Psalm 1

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 31, 2003


Every year the Gallup News Service conducts a poll of the Most Admired people in America.

In 1996 the list was topped by President Clinton, followed by Pope John Paul II, Colin Powell, and the Rev. Billy Graham.

In 2002 the list of most admired men was topped by President Bush, former President Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell, Pope John Paul II, and former President Bill Clinton

The 2002 most admired women list was headed by Senator Hillary Clinton, then Laura Bush, and Oprah Winfrey.  Interestingly, when only women were polled, Oprah came out on top.  When Americans 18-30 years old were polled, the top gal was … Jennifer Lopez.

The record for being on the top ten Most Admired list has been on the list more than forty times since 1948, almost twice as much as the next person, is held by …Billy Graham.

Who do you admire?

Psalm 1 – The person to admire

:1 Blessed is the man

Blessed‘esher – happiness, blessedness

There are two verbs in Hebrew meaning “to bless.” One is bārak and the other ‘esher.  There are some important differences between the two words.

Bārak is sometimes used in relation to God where God “blesses” someone, whereas ‘esher is never used in relation between God and man.  Esher is solely used towards man and seems to carry the idea of “envious desire”, as in “I wish I had what you have”. God doesn’t “bless” man with the word ‘esher because God doesn’t wish He could be like us (it’s us who wish we were more like Him).

What we’re going to look at is not as much the idea of “God’s blessing” on a person, but the idea of being a person that others wish they could be like.  The one to admire.


Who do you want to be like?

We live in a world where certain types of people are held up as heroes and the ones we want to be like.
There is something kind of thrilling to have a man like Arnold Schwarzenegger run for governor.  I’m not trying to make a political statement here, but think about what’s so exciting.  I don’t think most people are attracted to Mr. Schwarzenegger because of his views or his experience in leadership.  People are attracted because he’s a cool guy.
There’s a disturbing new movie out called “Thirteen” that follows a young girl who wants to be popular and accepted.  It follows her rapid descent into stealing, ditching school, wearing raunchy clothes, drinking, taking drugs, promiscuous sex and self-mutilation. She admires the wrong people.
I can’t help but think of the story that hit this week about the MTV music video award show.  Apparently the show started with two ex-Mickey Mouse club members, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, performing a song that was done at the first MTV award show in 1984 by Madonna.  They apparently dressed up like Madonna, sang her song, and even did the same dance steps that Madonna did.  It sounded to me that perhaps they “admired” Madonna a little.  And then Madonna showed up and gave each girl a full on kiss.  I don’t mean to sound judgmental, but I’m not sure Madonna is someone to admire.  And I guess neither are these two gals either. From Mickey Mouse to Madonna.  Very sad.

Madonna herself has admitted, “I’ve found that fame and fortune are not what they are cracked up to be.” (Madonna, April, 2003)

The Psalmist is going to give us some character traits of a person we ought to want to be like.  First there are things this person doesn’t do.  Then there are the things he does do.

:1 that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly

counsel‘etsah – counsel, advice, purpose

:2 nor standeth in the way of sinners

sinnerschatta’ – sinners; from chata’ – to sin, miss the way, go wrong, incur guilt

:3 nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

scornfulluwts – to mock, talk arrogantly; speak words which show no respect for the object, and make fun of the object

There seems to be a progression here.

It starts off by “walking” along with ungodly people, paying attention to the kinds of advice or counsel that a wicked person might give.

From there you start to slow down from walking with God and spend more time standing in the place of a person who is missing what God has for them.

Then finally you get comfortable enough to sit down and stay.  You join the ranks of the people who want to thumb their noses to the things of God.


Admire the person who doesn’t follow the world

Who is the truly “blessed” person?  Who is the one we ought to be wishing we were like?
It’s the person who is strong enough to say “no” to what the rest of the crowd is doing.
God, give us men!  A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo!  Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.

-- J. Gilbert Holland, God, Give Us Men!

Even though we get caught up in the moment and want to go the direction that the crowd goes, I think that deep inside the person we’re envious of is the person who takes a stand and goes the right direction, even if it’s not what others do.

Now we’re given two things that a blessed person does:

:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD

delightchephets – delight, pleasure.  This is a word that carries the idea of emotions. To experience emotional delight.

A blessed person is one who finds great pleasure in God’s Word.


Delight in God’s Word

Take a minute to think about the kinds of things you take “delight” in.  If you had a few minutes, an hour, or a day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do?  Honestly.  Things like Jamocha Almond Fudge at Baskin Robbins.  Those are the things that you “delight” in.  My parents were with one of my sons last night and they took him to a park, where he seemed kind of bored.  Then they took him to Baskin Robbins.  He wasn’t bored.
My goal isn’t to make you think about taking away the things you “delight” in.  My goal is to get us thinking about what it would take to “delight” in God’s Word.
One of the reasons we struggle with delighting in God’s Word is because we don’t recognize the treasure in God’s Word:
(Psa 19:7-8 NLT)  The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. {8} The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight to life.
Another reason we struggle with delighting in God’s Word is because we’ve forgotten just what it is.  Love letters from a distant land.

A childhood accident caused poet Elizabeth Barrett to lead a life of semi-invalidism before she married Robert Browning in 1846. There’s more to the story.  In her youth, Elizabeth had been watched over by her tyrannical father.  When she and Robert were married, their wedding was held in secret because of her father’s disapproval. After the wedding the Brownings sailed for Italy, where they lived for the rest of their lives.  But even though her parents had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship.  Almost weekly she wrote them letters.  Not once did they reply.  After 10 years, she received a large box in the mail.  Inside, Elizabeth found all of her letters; not one had been opened!  Today those letters are among the most beautiful in classical English literature.  Had her parents only read a few of them, their relationship with Elizabeth might have been restored.

In a very real sense, God's Word is his love letter to us.  Nothing has the power to free us from destructive behavior and revitalize our relationship with Him like His Word.
Perhaps love letters from a distant land don’t seem so thrilling any more.  Perhaps we’ve moved away from that place of “first love” with the Lord. 
Jesus said to the church in Ephesus:

(Rev 2:4-5 KJV)  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. {5} Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

If you’ve been away from the Lord, it’s time to come back.

:2  and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

If we delight in God’s Word, then we need to learn to meditate on it.

When we talk about meditating on God’s Word, be careful that you don’t think I’m talking about some sort of eastern meditation as we focus on our belly button, cross our legs, and say “ohmmmmmmm”.   Not exactly.  By the way …

*** Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused his dentist’s Novocain during root canal work?  He wanted to transcend dental medication.

meditatehagah – to moan, growl, utter, muse, mutter, meditate.  The word apparently carries the picture of a person walking around muttering ideas to himself.


Chew on God’s Word.

Another way to look at it might be to think of a cow chewing on its cud.
Cows are ruminants, members of the suborder Ruminantia. Ruminants have more than one chamber in their stomach.  Most ruminants have a four chambered stomach, the first chamber being called the “rumen”. Cows eat fast and store large quantities of grass or foliage in the rumen, where it softens. In medium sized cattle, the rumen by itself can hold between 25 to 75 gallons.  Protozoans and bacteria break down the food while it’s in the rumen.  Some of the nutritional material is absorbed by the stomach, but some of it (called “cud”) is regurgitated, where the cow chews on it some more, breaking down the stuff until it is more easy to digest.  Then the material goes on to the other chambers of the stomach.
We have a word in the English language, “ruminate”.  The definition is:  to a chew again what has been chewed slightly and swallowed; to chew repeatedly for an extended period; to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly.
I think we ought to consider putting some of God’s Word into our system every day and “chewing” on it during the day.
H.P. Barker writes, “As I looked out into the garden one day, I saw three things. First, I saw a butterfly.  The butterfly was beautiful, and it would alight on a flower and then it would flutter to another flower and then to another, and only for a second or two it would sit and it would move on.  It would touch as many lovely blossoms as it could, but derived absolutely no benefit from it.  Then I watched a little longer out my window and there came a botanist. And the botanist had a big notebook under his arm and a great big magnifying glass.  The botanist would lean over a certain flower and he would look for a long time and then he would write notes in his notebook.  He was there for hours writing notes, closed them, stuck them under his arm, tucked his magnifying glass in his pocket and walked away.  The third thing I noticed was a bee, just a little bee.  But the bee would light on a flower and it would sink down deep into the flower and it would extract all the nectar and pollen that it could carry.  It went in empty every time and came out full.”

Are you a butterfly, botanist, or a bee?

Sometimes we’re going too fast and making too much noise to really understand what God is saying.
From Mrs. Lettie Cowman’s book, Springs in the Valley (pp. 196-197):

In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek. Coolies had been engaged from a tribe to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far.  The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey.  But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move.  For some strange reason they just sat and rested. On inquiry as to the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.

Then Mrs. Cowman concludes with this penetrating exhortation:

This whirling rushing life which so many of us live does for us what that first march did for those jungle tribesmen. The difference: they knew what they needed to restore life’s balance; too often we do not.

Slow down and meditate on God’s Word.
When you read God’s Word each day – make sure you find something to “meditate” on.  Find some principle, some verse, some promise, something to chew on as you go through your day.
Make God’s Word the foundation of how you start each day.

:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Here’s what happens to this person we want to “envy”.

What is fruit?

It’s a result, a byproduct.  It’s what a tree produces.

It also may be the kinds of things that the Spirit of God wants to produce in your life.
(Gal 5:22-23 NASB)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
For a Christian, it may be the fruit of leading another person to the Lord.  Jesus said,
(John 15:8 NASB)  "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
It simply may be the results of a work that God has been leading you to do.

Joshua was the man that God used to bring the nation of Israel into the Promised Land.  He led a very “fruitful” life.  And there was a secret to his “fruitfulness”.  Before entering the Promised Land, God gave these instructions:

(Josh 1:6-9 KJV)  Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. {7} Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. {8} This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. {9} Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Soak yourself in God’s Word.

Note:  Fruit it seasonal.  Fruit doesn’t grow on trees all year long.  But when it’s fruit season, a good tree produces good fruit.

We too will have times when we are “out of season”.  We aren’t going to bear bucket loads of fruit every day.

But there will be times when fruit is “in season”, and that’s when the payoff comes for the person who has invested his time into God’s Word.

For example, when someone hurts your feelings, it’s the “season” to forgive.  Can you?

The Psalm goes on to give us the contrast of the person we don’t want to admire, the person who cannot stand before God.

:4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

chaff – it’s the skin that covers a seed, like that red skin that covers the peanuts you get at the ball park.

In the ancient farming days, after the wheat was harvested, the grain was taken to the top of a hill where the wind blew.  The grain was then crushed to loosen the chaff from the wheat and when it was all tossed in the air, the chaff was blown away with the wind while the edible grain fell to the ground.

The ungodly will be “blown away” by life.

:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

Because they did not do the things written about in God’s Word.

Doing the things written in the Word begins with believing in Jesus.

(John 6:28-29 KJV)  Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? {29} Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

:6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

He knows the way of the righteous, but to the unrighteous He will say, “I never knew you”.

Jesus said,

(Mat 7:21-27 KJV)  {21} Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. {22} Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? {23} And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

It’s not good enough to be religious.  It’s not good enough to do religious things.  You need to be one that God “knows”.

{24} Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

It’s not just knowing God’s Word, it’s doing God’s Word.  And that starts with believing in Jesus.

A person to admire:

Doesn’t follow the world.

Chews on God’s Word.

Obeys God’s Word.