J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Psalm 1 Sermon Notes and Study Guide

Big Idea:  God’s word gives fruit, prosperity, and rest.

Psalm 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; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

  • What is a pathway of blessing before God in this passage?
  • What does that person do regularly?

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.

  • How does God bless the person who loves the Bible?
  • How does the Bible define prosperity?

4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

  • What happens to those who do not study and apply the truth of the scriptures?
  • What comfort is there in God knowing you?

I don’t know anyone who loves music as much as I do.  When I’m in the car, I’m listening to music.  When I’m running I’m listening to music.  When I’m writing sermons, I’m listening to music.  Songs, melodies, and rhythms are constantly in my ear.

In fact, I like music so much, I have to discipline myself sometimes to turn it off. I need to make sure that I’m not crowding out time of prayer, thinking, or just waiting on God.  And to be honest, it is not always easy for me to sit in silence.

Fortunately, and by God’s grace, one of the ordained means by which we praise Him and He is glorified is by our singing.  When we put the words of scripture to song, or when we take the truths of scripture and write music to them, God receives those efforts with glory.  No matter what the words are, our singing, our praising of God in song, must be related to the scriptures.  They must be scripturally true and be representative of what God has told us to or representative of who God is.

So as we begin our study of the Psalms, let’s keep a few things in mind.  These are God-ordained songs that give Him glory.  And they are the word of God which is intended to teach us and transform us.

Intrinsically, every person who claims faith in Jesus Christ should be able to state that they know that there is immense benefit in studying the bible and that we know that God has command it, yet we just do not find the time for it.  So, as we study the Book of Psalms, let’s take the words to heart.  The Psalms were both individual expressions of worship and they were songs that were used to lead the people in worship.  Some of the topics are the bible, others are the people of God, some speak of the character of God, tons of things.  As we spend the next few weeks looking them, let’s pursue God within them, and pursue whatever it is they recommend for us to grow closer to God.  This week, that 4recomeantion is the bible.  So towards that end, let’s pursue this week’s Big Idea:  God’s word gives fruit, prosperity, and rest.  Appropriately so, we are going to look at Psalm 1 this week, so let me read the entire song to you.

Psalm 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; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.  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.  4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Now before we jump into this word for word, let me set the table for this particular Psalm.  Remember, each one is part of a larger group but each still tells its own story.  The first Psalm really sets a few principles before us that we need to understand.  Each Psalm speaks specifically about a certain characteristic and character of God Himself.  And the Psalm have tendency, despite the scriptures saying that no one is righteous, they speak what life is like for the righteous and what life is like for the unrighteous or wicked.  Some Psalms are pleading to God to act on behalf of the righteous and others plea that God would pour out judgment on the unrighteous.

Psalm 1 is very much like that.  Now, we do not know exactly who wrote this Psalm.  Many people attribute it to King Solomon, the incredibly wise son of King David, but nobody knows for sure.  And as your study Bible may tell you, the Psalm sort of serves a pattern for the rest of the Psalm.  So with that in mind, let’s look at this one verse by verse.

Psalm 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; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

The Psalm begins with letting us know specifically that there are blessings from God and there are warnings and disciplines from God.  Let’s start with what God promises to bless.  The Psalmist says that you will be blessed by God if you delight in God’s law and if you mediate on God’s law day and night.

God promises very specific blessings when we study the scriptures.  In fact, those promises are so specific, it is amazing how much we neglect them.I mean, a cursory glance shows us how much God values our study of the Bible.

Let me give you an example.  Here are some of the Bible promises about the bible.

·    2 Timothy 2: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
·    Psalm 119: How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word.
·    Psalm 119: My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
·    Deuteronomy 6: And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

And a plethora of other verses.  God commands us to study the Bible and promises to bless us as we study and put God’s promises into place.  And our generation has access to the Bible in an unprecedented manner.  We have Bibles stacked on our shelves and can find any version we want online.

Yet, we might be the most illiterate group of Christians that have walked the earth.  We know most of what we know because folks have told it to us and not because we have personally studied it ourselves.  Maybe it is because when we hear that God is going to bless us for studying the scriptures we don’t know what that means.

So, let’s take a look at what specific blessings are promised from studying the scriptures.  Really, I wish there were some other motivation, like I don’t know a love of Jesus, but we just need to know, why should we study the Bible day and night like this passage says.  And then, we’ll hear what it says and have to wrestle with whether that is what we really want or not.

Listen to these promises:

·    Studying the Bible causes us to hunger more for God:  1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation
·    We grow in the fullness of God:  Paul prays that we would be Ephesians 3: know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God
·    Studying causes us to walk in the freedom that is ours in Jesus:  John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
·    Think about that:  Studying the Bible gives you a hunger for God, we enjoy God’s fullness, and we walk in freedom.

You might privately say, “Gordon, is that it?”  Fullness of God, really?  And I will say, ‘I’m not going sucker you in with a bunch of promises.”   You study the scriptures because you desire to know God and know His son Jesus more fully.  Do that, and be blessed as God calls blessed.
If I offer anything else, you will be disappointed.  You see when the scriptures say, “Blessed is the man who does not…” it is saying that God is going to bless one thing and judge or discipline the opposite.  So if God is going to bless the person who delights in the law of God then He is going to judge or discipline those that who do the opposite.
What is the opposite of delighting in the law of God or meditating on the law of God?  Specifically the Psalmist describes that in 3 ways.

·    Walking in the counsel of the wicked
·    Standing in the way of sinners
·    Sitting in the seat of scoffers

Psalm 1 does not care who you are, how long you have been a Christian, or how many good things you have done in your life.  If you are not regularly studying your Bible, if you are not meditating on it regularly, if you are not delighting in the words of God, then you are walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the pathway of sinners, and sitting in the seat of scoffers.

Mission #1:  Studying the Scriptures is a direct avenue to receiving God’s blessings.
Mission #2:  Not studying the Scriptures is a direct avenue to being deceived by others.

Now, again you might say, “Gordon, I’m not deceived and neither is my family.  My kids go to church, play upward basketball, homeschool, only have Christian friends, only listen to Christian music and basically my kids only interact with stuff that has Christian on it.”  I only listen to Christian music, I read Christian novels, and I watch Fox News.  How can you say I sit in the counsel of the wicked?

And the Psalms says, “Unless regular bible study is part of your regular life, it doesn’t matter whether everything in your house was purchased at Lifeway Bookstore, you are sitting under the counsel of the wicked.”  And you might ask, “Well how do I know if I’m sitting under the influence of wicked people?”  And Psalm 1 will tell you, “If you want that kind of discernment and wisdom then you have to study your Bible regularly.”

Regularly studying your bible and the words of God is described in this hopeful way for you in verse 3.

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.

You will be like a plant that is regularly fed by streams of water.  And because you get the nourishing water that you need, you, that tree, will produce the fruit when the time is right.  Your leaves won’t be scorched by sun.  Instead, that tree will be lush, beautiful, and bountiful.

What in the world does it mean for a person to be like a tree, well-nourished that does not fade and produces fruit.  Well, fortunately this one of those pictures in scripture that the scriptures explain pretty well for us. A tree planted by a stream of water is well nourished.  Making connection to scripture looks like this.

Jesus is found in the scriptures.  He said so Himself:  John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.  And what happens when we find Jesus in the scriptures?  John 4:13 Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  Clearly, studying the scriptures teaches you of Jesus and knowing Jesus refreshes your soul like a tree by the water.

What does it mean then to yield fruit in its season?  The scriptures always use the picture of bearing fruit as a picture of developing obedience in your heart.  Paul described it in this way when he prayed for the church of Colossae

Colossians 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

When you are filled with the knowledge of God’s will which is found in the scriptures you will bear fruit.  Fruit that is described as Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.  Seek the Lord in the scriptures, and they will enable you to bear the fruit of:  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.

And finally, what does it mean for your leaves not to whither?  This is the language of perseverance under trial.  A tree’s leaves whither when they are exposed to the sun and do not have enough water.  So the believer who maintains the refreshing work of the scriptures in their lives is going to be able to endure the sun’s heat and not wither.

The bible gives us this example from scripture.  Jesus was tempted by Satan in Matthew 4.  Satan tempted Him in 3 ways:

·    Jesus was hungry and Satan tempted Him to turn stones into bread.
·    Satan tempted Jesus to cast Himself off of a cliff and have the angels catch Him.
·    And Satan offered to give Jesus every kingdom in the world if Jesus would worship Satan.

Satan tempted Jesus’ physical needs, tempted His trust in God’s care, and tempted Him with power and prestige.  That is where we struggle with perseverance isn’t it?  We struggle to believe that God is going to care for us physically so we slave away at work instead working to honor God.  We struggle to believe that God will protect us so we live recklessly.  We struggle and desire power and prestige and money.

How do we persevere in such trials and be the tree that is not scorched?  We respond as Jesus did.  Jesus responded by quoting the scriptures tucked away in His heart.  In light of the temptation of turning the stones to bread, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8 and said “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  In light of the temptation to cast Himself off the cliff for the angels to bear Him up, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6 and said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”     And in light of the temptation to have all the kingdoms bow to Jesus in exchange for worshiping Satan Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6 again and said, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Psalm 1 calls this prospering.  In all that he does, he prospers.  Not money, not wealth, not prestige.  No.  Prosperity is a refreshed soul that obeys and withstands temptation.  Promising everyone that they are going to have Bentleys and straight teeth if they believe enough is such shortsighted picture of prosperity.  The health and wealth proponents completely miss out on what real prosperity is.  Defining God’s prosperity in the same way the world defines prosperity is foolish.\

Mission #3 Enjoy the Prosperity of God by hiding scriptures in your heart so that you might persevere and not whither during difficult and tempting times.

And as the scriptures so often do, they show us what happens when we walk away from the truths of scripture.  Listen to verse 4

4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

So, how does Psalm 1 describe people who do not live a life meditating on and enjoying the scriptures?  Psalm 1 calls them wicked.  Now you might say, “Gordon all that everyone was wicked.  Doesn’t Romans 3:10 say, “There are none that are righteous; no not one.”?  Doesn’t Romans 3:23 say, “For all have fallen short of the glory of God?”

You are exactly right.  However, when you place your faith in God, and now on this side of the cross, when you place your faith in Jesus, you want to know happens?  You are called righteous because you have Jesus’ righteousness.  Romans 3:22 tells us that God gives us the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  Through faith in Jesus, His children are called righteous and can do righteous things.  Those that do not have that faith are described in Psalm 1:4.  They are wicked.

And every blessing that you have as a child of God with faith in Jesus who studies the scripture, the opposite is true of every wicked person who does not have that faith and does not trust the scriptures.  Instead of persevering in the sun and being refreshed by the water with leaves that do not wither, those that do not trust God and do not trust the scriptures are like chaff, useless, dried up chaff that blows away when there is wind gust.  And ultimately, that lack of trust in God, that lack of trusting and bathing in the truths of scriptures, will keep the wicked from standing before God.

Psalm 1:5 says that when God ultimately brings judgment as Christ returns, those that do not trust God and do not have faith in Jesus and do not have hope in the scriptures will not be able to withstand God’s judgment.   They will wither.  They will suffer judgment as sinners and will not be able to stand among the congregation that God calls the righteous.

But those that God knows.  Those that have faith in Jesus who have been transformed to trust in and bathe in the words of God, those folks are described this way in verse 6.

6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

God knows the way of His righteous children.  This is not a knowing like knowing a fact.  This like knowing as in a husband knows his wife.  It is an intimate knowing.  God knows, is tightly bound to, is in an intimate relationship with His children who He has called righteous though none of us deserve that title.  The wicked, those that don’t know God, don’t have faith in Jesus, do not find wisdom in the scriptures, they will perish in judgment.

Mission #4:  Let God’s intimate knowing of you motivate you to know Him better in His scriptures.

Gang, with any idea to inspire us or encourage us to study the scriptures more, it is so hard to find a way to do it without guilting one another.  Well, of course that happened.   Did you read your Bible today?  Well, you can tell me anything.  When was the last time you read your Bible.  And there are a host of self-righteous, sanctimonious approaches to the Bible.  Let me encourage us in this way.

·    John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
·    John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

When you open your Bible, or I guess this day, when you log on to your Bible, you are not just opening up some ancient document from a time long ago.  You are interacting with Christ Himself.  The very words of life, the water you need for refreshment is Jesus, and He is found in the scriptures.  The very obedience that God calls you to is enabled as you trust in Jesus and He is found in the scriptures.  And when you are tempted by everything this world offers, God will prosper you and protect you as you learn more about and take in Jesus who is found in the scriptures.

So with that, let’s remind ourselves us these 4 takeaway Missions:

·    Mission #1:  Studying the Scriptures is a direct avenue to receiving God’s blessings.
·    Mission #2:  Not studying the Scriptures is a direct avenue to being deceived by others.
·    Mission #3 Enjoy the Prosperity of God by hiding scriptures in your heart so that you might persevere and not whither during difficult and tempting times.
·    Mission #4:  Let God’s intimate knowing of you motivate you to know Him better in His scriptures.

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July 31, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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