If you study Psalm 1, the first word that you read is the word “blessed.” The Hebrew word translated as “blessed” appears 44 times in the Old Testament. Most of the time, this word is used to describe God blessing man. That is what we have in this verse. This Psalm begins by telling us that God will bless a certain kind of person.
If you read through to the end of the Psalm 1, the last word that you will read is the word “perish.’ This is a psalm that begins by describing someone blessed by God, and it ends by describing someone who perishes. It begins with happiness and ends with condemnation.
You can be someone who is blessed and happy, or you can be someone who is lost in condemnation, and it all depends on the influence that you allow in your life. Your decisions are your decisions. There is no way you can make choices for anyone else. You make the decisions in your life, and no one else has that power but you.
Yet, the decisions you make will largely be effected by the influence that you allow in your life. Who are your friends? What kind of people do you allow in your life? What kind of advice do you seek? All of these will influence the kind of decisions you make and the happiness or condemnation that will come into your life as a result of those decisions. That’s what Psalm 1 is telling us.
Psalm 1 begins by describing the two places where you find positive influence to make the right decisions and the stable and peaceable life that follows. The one who is blessed is the one who has good people in his life, and invites the teachings of the Bible into his life.
The happiness that you enjoy in life will be largely impacted by the kind of people who choose to have in your life, and the people you allow to influence your decisions.
The word “counsel” specifically applies to the advice you receive when you are troubled. It is the idea of going to someone and seeking advice when you need help handling a difficult situation.
The word “ungodly” is a Hebrew word that describes someone who does not care about God. If you turn to Psalm 10.4, this same Hebrew word is translated as “wicked” and we are told that this person “does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.”
Psalm 1 begins by saying that you are blessed when you do not seek advice from the ungodly, someone who is not interested in God. Instead, you make sure to listen to the right people.
Consider an example from the life of Rehoboam. Rehoboam was David’s grandson. David died, and his son Solomon had taken the throne. Solomon now has died, and his son Rehoboam has taken the throne. Rehoboam wants the loyalty of the people and wants advice on how to win their hearts. In 1 Kings 12.6, he first of all listens to the older men. In 1 Kings 12.8, he listens to his friends. He then makes decisions based on the advice of his friends rather than the advice of the older wiser men. As a result, the kingdom was divided. He listened to the wrong people.
You are going to face situations where a decision needs to be made. Chances are, you are already leaning toward one particular course of action. Chances are you are going to be able to find someone who will tell you exactly what you want to hear. There are those who offer bad advice, and that if you listen to it, you will make decisions that can destroy your happiness. Bad decisions will lead to bad consequences. You have no one else to blame but yourself, because you made those choices based on the bad advice you chose who listen to.
The person who is blessed with a happy life is the one who listens to the right people.
The word “stand” is not a word that means to stand as opposed to sitting or lying down. It is a word that carries the idea of lingering. You are just hanging out.
Specifically, who are you hanging out with? Verse 1 refers to those who stand in the path of sinners. The apostle John describes a sinner as someone who does not keep the commandments of God (1 John 3.4). The idea is that you are hanging out with people who chose not to live their lives by the commandments of God. You go to the bar, but you don’t plan on getting drunk. You are just going to hang out there.
Do you want to make good decisions? Make sure you keep the right company. If you were to turn to the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians, we are warned that "Evil company corrupts good habits" (1 Cor. 15.33).
Consider an example from the life of Peter. In Luke 22, you read about Jesus being arrested. Peter follows at a distance. As he follows Jesus, he finds himself in a public place. It is there that we read about Peter in the courtyard. "Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest's house. But Peter followed at a distance. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them” (Luke 22.54,55).
If you keep reading the verses that follow, you would find that this is the context where Peter denies knowing Jesus three times and emphasized it by cursing. In verse 55, it says that they kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard. It was not over in the corner. It was not over in the shadows. It was right in the middle of the courtyard.
Then it says that they sat down together. Right in the middle of the courtyard, they sat down together. The people who were in the courtyard were hostile toward Jesus. Then it says that Peter sat among them. Peter was not keeping good company, and it led him to denying Jesus three times.
Do you get around the people you work with at start cursing? Do you go out and spend time with people who drink, and feel compelled to drink with them? Are you hanging out with people who do not care about the laws of God? Are you keeping company with people who are not interested in what is pleasing to God? Then guess what you are going to be encouraged to do? Guess what kind of language you are going to be encouraged to use? Guess what kind of beverages you are going to be encouraged to drink? If you want to make good decisions that result is a good life, you need to make sure that you hang out with the right crowd.
The word that is translated as “sits” describes someone who is more than just lingering. The original word carries the idea of someone who is in a relationship. We are told that the person who is blessed is the one who does not get into a relationship with someone who is scornful. A scornful person is one who mocks God. Do you want to make good decisions? Make sure you have the right kind of friends.
What kind of friends do you have? What kinds of things do they like to do? What kind of language do they use? What your friends do is what you will likely do. Show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are.
Consider an example from the life of Jesus. In Mark 3.14, it says that Jesus "appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach."
In this passage, you will read about Jesus choosing twelve individuals to be His disciples, and He did so for two reasons.
We know that these twelve men were chosen to be sent out to preach. That’s what the word “apostle” means. It means, the sent out ones. But first and foremost, He chose men who would be with Him. He chose men who would be His friends. These were men who had flaws. They made mistakes, but these were good men, and they helped Jesus in His three year ministry.
Parents, your children are going to have friends, and these friends are not always going to be good friends. You have the right and the responsibility to decide which friends your child can and cannot have. If you don’t give them direction, then who will? Help them to keep the right kind of friends. Set a good example by making sure that you have the right kind of friends.
Not only do you need to have good people in your life that will be a positive influence and help you make good decisions, but you need to make sure to invite the teachings of the Bible into your life.
The law of the Lord is something that you desire. When you read it, it brings you joy.
How do you feel about the Bible? You will come to a point where decisions need to be made? Where do you go for the answers? Where do you go for advice? There is to be a passion for the Bible. Listen to what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2.2: "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” The idea is that you need to be as desirous for the word of God as a baby is desirous for his mother’s milk. There is to be an intense craving, a thirst, for the Bible.
Paul expresses this same sentiment to a young preacher named Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2.15, he wrote, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The word translated as “diligent” is a word that literally means “speed.” It is the idea of urgency. There is to be an urgency in wanting God’s approval. How do you get God’s approval? You do so by understanding correctly the word of truth.
When you are faced with a decision, you constantly think about the word of God, and how it can help. So there is to be a passion for the Bible.
When you make decisions in your life, your happiness will depend on those decisions. What will influence you to make the right decisions? The one who is blessed is the one who is influenced by the right kind of people and is influenced by the Bible.
What happens when you make good decisions because of the positive influence that is in your life? These decisions result in a bright future.
When a person is making the right decisions, he has a life that is productive. He is blessed by God. He is happy. He is productive in all the areas of life that matter, and it is all because he is making good decisions.
Not only is he productive, but he is prosperous. He is a success because he is making good decisions. This is not talking about someone who will make a lot of money, or someone who will go far in business. This is talking about success as it is viewed in the eyes of God. It is spiritual success, marital success, and moral success. At the end, they can look back on their lives and know that they lived the life God wanted them to live.
The Psalm comes to a close by referring to those who do not make good decisions.
The people who do not make good decisions result in them becoming ungodly. They have listened to all the wrong advice. They have gotten themselves involved with the wrong crowd. They have chosen the wrong kind of friends. They have not been interested in listening to God with a passion for His word. As a result, they have made choices that destroyed their happiness. Watch how the future of this kind of person is described.
The ungodly are beaten down like the chaff. They are aimless in their direction of life.
It also says that they will not stand in judgment. The word “stand” is not the same word that you read in verse 1. In verse 4, the Hebrew word for stand is the idea of standing tall with confidence. If you have lived a life that is pleasing to God, you will stand before God on the Day of Judgment, and you will stand with confidence. Those who have made bad decisions will not. If you have made bad decisions in your life, and have not been the kind of person God wants you to be, then when the Day of Judgment comes, you will cower before God knowing your eternal end.
It also says that they will not stand in the congregation of the righteous. If you have made bad decisions because of the influence you have allowed into your life, then you will not have a place among God’s people.
The Lord knows. You will not pull the wool over His eyes. He knows right now where you stand. This is a passage that mentions the righteous and the ungodly. You are one of those two. You are one of those two because of the decisions you have made. If you find that you are one of the ungodly, you can make a decision that will change all of that by choosing to live the way God wants you to live. The decision is yours to make.