As a seminary student (5 years and counting), preparing for gospel ministry, I have had the great privilege of exhorting/preaching (whatever you’d like to call it) quite a bit. There are times when I’m able to preach in the same place, and there are other times when I’m simply all over the map. Well, Psalm 1 is a text I have used in just about every congregation I’ve been in. It is a wonderful Psalm, one which is rich in doctrine and application. I’m interested in what other people say about this text, so I was good to see that James’ dealt with this text this past Wednesday.
Sometimes we get the question about life verses, “What’s your life verse?” and I’m not so sure I have one of those. But if I were to put my finger on something, Psalm 1 would be at the top of the list. Psalm 1 is a text I always include with, Love Dad, in the notes I write to my family in the mornings. Since this is fresh on my mind, I preached on this text last week, and I just listened to James address this text, I figured I would share some thoughts.
At GPTS we are taught in homiletics, that the sermon should have one main point, and the entire sermon should feed into the main proposition. Normally when I preach on Psalm 1 I split it into two sermons: the 1st addresses the blessed man, the 2nd the wicked man. My main proposition for Psalm 1:1-3 is “The happy man is one despises the ways of the wicked, but loves the ways of the Lord.” This is a two point sermon: (1) The Christian Delights in the Word of God, (2) The Christian Displays the Fruits of Righteousness. Now, I’m certainly not going to write out my sermon, and I’m not going to repeat what James has stated but I do hope these few words will encourage you.
If I were to ask you to list the top eight things that would cause you to be happy, what would they be?………………does your list include a greater sorrow over your sins, a willingness to suffer for the kingdom, a hunger after righteousness. I suspect that most of you were not thinking along those lines. This is why we need to constantly be reminded that our definition of what makes a man or woman happy, needs to come from above. If we want to know what truly makes one happy, we need to begin thinking God’s thoughts after Him: how He defines happiness (e.g. Ps. 1; Mat. 5:3-12).
James mentioned, in so many words, that it is not sufficient to abstain from the ways of the world. This is something we should be doing, but it is not sufficient, and so the Psalmist does not stop with what the blessed man does not do. On one hand, the blessed man is not taken in by the world, the flesh and the devil; on the other hand, the blessed man’s delight is the law of the Lord. He meditates in it – reads it, sings it, hears it, has it transform his thinking, pressing it upon the mind and heart. One puritan writer (Thomas Watson) states it this way “as the hammer drives the nail to the head, so meditation drives a truth to the heart.”
So, let me ask you, what is the first thing you think about when you wake in the morning? Are your first thoughts, “I wonder what Email I have today,” “I wonder what the latest posts are on FB.” Is turning the computer on, the first thing you do in the morning? Do you spend more time listening to the thoughts of the wicked, then you do in meditating upon God’s word? The reading, hearing, the meditatation in the word is one of the ways (perhaps the main way) God’s uses to sanctify us (Jn. 17:17).
Secondly, the happy man is described as a tree. A tree that is uprooted (born again) and planted by streams of water; it is a stable tree (Eph. 4:14-16), and tree that is receiving its nourishment. But not only is it flourishing itself, the tree is producing its fruit; it is doing what it is designed to do. The Psalmist moves from the illustration, back to the happy man. The happy man is the one who is nourished, but on the other hand, he is producing fruit. He is a blessing to others. He loves the body of Christ, he cares for the body of Christ, he bears the burdens of the body of Christ, he weeps with the body of Christ, and he rejoices with the body of Christ.
In a few words, what we see here in the first three verse of Psalm 1, is that the inner life (delights in the law) and the outer life (bearing fruit) of this man, coincide with one another. Is this a picture of your life? The only other option is found in verses 3-6.