One Great Delight, One Great Activity, One Great Result
There are two great activities in life that lead to a subsequent great state of being that may be described in two concurrent ways. These two great activities may be viewed in some sense as concurrent themselves if one is disposed to see them as two sides of the same coin, one being a negative expression and the other being a positive expression of the same reality.
Negatively, the man "who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful" engages in a great activity. I use the word great because the dynamic and the result have ultimate, that is, eternal consequences. In that sense the activity is great. This man engages in the activity of not walking in the counsel of the ungodly, but in the counsel of the godly. He takes godly advice. He does not stand in the path of sinners but he does walk the path of righteousness with the righteous. Righteousness is his activity and the righteous are his company. He does not scorn but he gives honor where honor is due. He speaks the truth in love.
In this worldly, postmodern culture in which we live, the words of the Psalmist could not be more accurate. From phony philosophers, to pseudo scientists, to political pundits, to the mendacious media, the world runs after ungodly counsel. But the apostle asks these singularly penetrating questions, "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. 1:20)?"
The social gurus of our time walk the path of the sinner. As Paul says, "Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; the way of peace they have not known (Rom. 3:15-17)" The spiritual and social ills in the headlines every day attest to that sad reality: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, Terry Schiavo, and war. We can only come to the same conclusion the apostle does: "There is no fear of God before their eyes (v. 18)."
When Sen. Charles Schumer says that Judge Samuel Alito will roll back the gains of Rosa Parks, he sits in the seat of the scornful in regard to another human being. When he asks whether or not the U.S. Constitution grants abortion rights, he sits in the seat of the scornful in regard to God. An attack on the life of another is an attack on God (Gen. 9:6). Such is the way of the world.
But the man who has been rescued from this present darkness has embraced the message of the cross. It "is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18) and the wisdom of God (v. 24)." He walks after God's counsel. This man is trained to "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14)." He does not walk the path of sinners. This man adheres to God's commands: "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king (1 Pet. 2:17)." He does not occupy the seat of the scornful.
This man experiences a great contrast as he engages positively in a great activity. He "walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night (Ps. 1:1-2)." Do not miss that three letter conjunction: "but." This is the "but" of greatness; of ultimate things; of eternity; and of great satisfaction. His delight is in the law of the Lord and in it he meditates day and night.
Think of the concept of delight. It can be described as enjoyment, pleasure, happiness, joy, glee, gladness, or enchantment. The follower of God engages in this great activity, which in itself has two great prongs. He takes pleasure in God's word. But, that dynamic is not enough. To take pleasure in God's word without really knowing it would be to observe it from afar. It would be akin to being a secret admirer. There is some pleasure and benefit derived from such an activity but the full force of the experience is lacking. The secret admirer must marry the object of his affection if he is to experience the full pleasure of her being. So too must the believer meditate upon God's word if he is to experience the full pleasure of that which it reveals. To meditate upon God's word is to experience the full joy that it brings. To do such is to enjoy God. And that activity is why we exist.
How meditating upon the Scriptures is a lost practice and indeed a lost art? To take the diamond, hold it to the light, and gaze upon its many facets is to get some sense of the fullness of its beauty as it sparkles like no other gem. To take the diamond of God's word, hold it to the light of the Holy Spirit, and gaze upon its many facets is to get some sense of the fullness of its beauty as it sparkles like no other word; for it is living and active and sharper than a double edged sword (Heb. 4:12). Meditate upon the word. Turn it over in your mind. Think about it. Muse on it. Drink it as if it were a glass of wine (slowly and contemplatively); don't swill it as if it were a mug of beer.
And how often or how long should one meditate upon the word? "In His law he meditates day and night." We wake up with the word. We thrive on it during the day. We go to sleep with it on our hearts. We dream of it during the night. We will saturate ourselves with the word of God if we want the great state of being about which we spoke at the outset of our little meditation.
This great state of being is the result of these two great activities and can be described with two concurrent dynamics. First, "Blessed is the man." Second, "stable is the man." Of course, the underlying reality is that the grace of God has come upon this man so that these two great activities are manifest in his life. These are not activities the natural man can conjure up or engage in himself. They are supernaturally produced by the grace and Spirit of God. Thus, this two-fold state of being is the result of God’s grace as well. This man is blessed by God and stabilized by God and it shows.
"Blessed is the man." What does this mean? Blessing is always the result of God's grace. God's grace is always unmerited favor. When God lavishes his unmerited favor on an undeserving sinner, that sinner is said to be blessed. But that blessing or state of blessedness issues forth in a practical reality. "Blessed is the man."
"Blessed is the man." Here we have an expression of pure joy. We may render it thusly, "O, how happy is the man!" It is not merely "happy is the man," but "O, how extremely happy is the man!" He is delightfully happy by virtue of the state of grace in which he finds himself which causes his life to be completely different than what it was and indeed what it would have been.
Moreover, "Stable is the man." In a world where people don't know where they've come from or where they're going, stability is a wonderful commodity. At the same time, it is another ultimate commodity. This man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly but delights Himself in the counsel of the Lord is a stable individual. "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."
He is like a tree. He is planted and the roots go down deep. We had an ice storm recently and a very tall tree in our yard toppled over under its weight. The root system was very shallow and was pulled from the ground even as the tree toppled. But this man with the roots planted deep cannot topple over. When the winds blow and the ice clings, this man will not fall.
Moreover, he is planted by rivers of water. He is continually filled and satisfied. Our Lord Jesus said, "'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39)."
Not only will this man be continually filled and satisfied by the Spirit of Christ, but he will be fruitful. This tree "brings forth its fruit in its season." He will bear the fruit of righteousness, the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of souls, and indeed the fruit that remains.
This man will be spiritually healthy and spiritually prosperous all the days of his life. His "leaf also shall not wither." He has a home in heaven with an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that cannot fade away. It is reserved in heaven by God (1 Pet. 1:4). "And whatever he does shall prosper." "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58)."
Would you hear the Lord say of you, "Blessed is the man?" Would you be a man "who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful?" Do you want stability? Do you want to "be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season?" Do you want to be a person "whose leaf also shall not wither?" Do you want "whatever [you do to] prosper?
If you do, then, pare it all down and have one great delight: the law of the Lord. Have one great activity: meditate upon it day and night. Then you will have one great result: Christ.
Sign up free for "Christian News and Views," a weekly e-mail newsletter highlighting relevant news stories affecting Christians. An editorial by Dr. Dean is included as well as a link to his comments on selected stories. The e-newsletter goes out each Friday and is sponsored by "Calling for Truth," a daily, live, call-in radio program co-hosted by Dr. Dean and Kevin Boling. Simply e-mail us at [email protected] to receive your first issue this Friday.
To listen live to "Calling for Truth" each day from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm eastern time, go to www.christiantalk660.com and click on the "Listen Online" button.