I’ve been digging into the Psalms for the first time in my life and I’m continually blessed and impressed by this book of the bible. I used to assume that this book was all just flowery poetics, but as I actually read it for myself I’m finding a wealth of wisdom and knowledge mixed in with the beautiful words of the Psalms. I’m going to spend several weeks in the book of Psalms as I do a study of chapters 1 through 24.
One thing I love is when the bible uses a word that just jumps out at me. That was the case in this next verse.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
The word scoffers just leaped off the page at me when I was reading this. Scoffing is defined as when we “speak to someone or about something in a scornfully derisive or mocking way”.” Have you been on the internet lately? It’s the realm of scoffers. Facebook and Twitter are the great scoffer kingdoms. We live in the great age of scoffers. Everyone is cooler than everyone else and everyone has a clever way of tearing down anything and everything. This is something I was definitely guilty of in life. I used to be quick to make fun of things. Even though I was almost always just joking around, it still doesn’t change the fact that I was a master scoffer. The more I think about this verse, the more convicted I become by it. Since reading it, I’ve had to deeply examine my speaking and actively start guarding myself from falling back into the old habit I used to have of being a scoffer. My new general rule is that if my comment about someone or something isn’t going to build them/it up or convey some needed information, it’s probably not a comment I need to be making. As a result of this, I feel like I’m probably not as funny as I used to be, but I’m definitely more Godly. And if that’s a choice I’m needing to make in life, I’ll choose God every time.
I love verses like this because it’s an example of how deep the instruction in the bible can go sometimes. Don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked. Check, that makes sense. Don’t live the way that sinners live. Yeah, that seems smart. But don’t sit in the seat of scoffers? That one’s a little more subtle, a little more nuanced. This is one of those verses that forces us to really think about our behavior, our speech, and the way we’re presenting ourselves to those around us. Our behavior is part or our testimony. Our unsaved friends and family members watch us closely, and you better believe that they’re going to notice anything they can interpret as a “crack” in our Christian armor. I think it’s important to remember that we have a responsibility to be the best representatives of Christ we possibly can be. None of us are perfect, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be as close to perfect as possible.
Psalm 1 continues, saying what happens to someone who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night.
Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does he prospers.
The qualifications for that verse aren’t easy, but man, I want to that verse to define my life. Sometimes I get tripped up over the idea of wanting the rewards of God. The thing is, I know it’s not wrong to want the promised rewards of the Lord, but I just never want to fall into being someone who’s only motivated by rewards. I love God because of who He is, and because of what He’s done for me and for everyone else. I try to live a holy and Godly life because I want to keep His word, I want to follow the example set by Jesus, and I want to inspire others to do the same. But I don’t think it’s wrong to say that yes, I absolutely also want the rewards. I want to prosper in all that I do. I want to be like that mighty tree.
This psalm speaks about kings and rulers who are plotting against God and His Anointed (Jesus). It has a very clear take on what God thinks of those who are plotting against Him.
Psalm 2:4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Derision is defined as “contemptuous ridicule or mockery”, so yeah, it’s fair to say that God didn’t think much of those plotting against Him. He laughed at them. Imagine for a moment. Really dig into your imagination here with me. Imagine God, sitting on His throne in heaven. Imagine Him looking down at the earth, seeing these kings and rulers trying to find ways to come against God. He sees their plans and their schemes, and then He throws His head back and laughs. His response to nations lining up against Him is to laugh! I can’t imagine a more reassuring scenario than that. God’s victory is assured. It’s not probable, it’s definite.
There’s a lot going on in the world right now. We’re all aware of Christians who are facing problems as they try to hold true to their beliefs. There are a lot of areas in society right now where it feels like religious freedoms are being threatened. There are those out there who celebrate this, who are at this very moment plotting and planning ways to continue to come against those who follow Christ. I’m not at all downplaying the seriousness of all of that, but it does pull me back to this second Psalm, and that picture of God just throwing His head back and laughing at those who would plot against Him. We may very well have some serious struggles ahead of us as believers in Christ, but the end result is the assured victory of God. A confident God who laughs at the plans of those who would come against Him.
There’s a cool moment as Psalm 2 wraps up where it gives a bit of instruction to the kings and rulers of the earth.
Psalm 2:10-12 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
I used to want to avoid certain moments in the bible. So much of it is beautiful and loving and full of hope, but there are moments where God’s word takes a more severe approach. I’m learning to embrace these types of moments. If God is showing a moment of severity, there’s always a good reason for it. This warning above is one of those verses. I wish those in our own government would read this verse and then live and govern by it. “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.” God is a being of immense patience, and He’s spent a lot of time giving people opportunities to accept Him. But there will come a final day. A day when those who are set against Him have to face down with Him. And the bible assures us of how that goes, and I’ll let you in on a little secret. It doesn’t go well for God’s enemies.
Before closing out, I do want to remind you of the final sentence in verse 12. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” The “him” the verse is referring to is the Son, or Jesus. I love that among this Psalm, which stands as a very stern warning to those leaders who plot against God, we get a great reminder of what happens to those who take refuge in the Lord. It’s not just safety that he provides, but it says that those people will be blessed.
CLOSING AND PRAYER
I had a beautiful interaction with someone last night that was completely God inspired. Seemingly random things like that remind me of how active God is in our lives. He’s alive, and He’s real, and if we can get ourselves in a place where we’re obedient to Him and where we’re searching for His guidance and instruction, there’s no end to the amazing and wonderful things He can do in our lives.
So for a closing prayer today, let’s get real quiet. Sometimes our prayers are just a one sided conversation where we list off a bunch of things to God, say amen, and then get on with our day. So let’s just get quiet before God, and ask Him to move in our lives. Ask Him for guidance, ask Him for Godly opportunities, and then just get quiet. I know for me, I can be great at talking to God, but when it comes to stopping long enough to listen to Him I sometimes fail mightily. So speak to us today, Lord. Give us your gentle guidance, a nudge towards the path you want us on. Give us the wisdom to see your hand at work in our lives, and give us the boldness to step up and do what’s needed when you present us with Godly opportunities. I pray this in agreement with anyone else who prays this prayer, in the precious name of Jesus, amen.
I love you guys. God is drawing His people to Him these days. If you’re feeling that tug on your life, don’t resist it. Get into a good church, get into a regular reading schedule of the bible, and get into a prayer routine. Get God set as the priority in your life, and then stand back and marvel at how everything else falls into place.