Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in his law doth he meditates day and night. 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.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. Psalm 1:1-6.
Today we would like to speak a bit on Psalm chapter one, and as we focus on Psalm chapter one, we would like to ask the question “Why are the righteous blessed?” But, before we can answer this question, we first need to understand what it means to be blessed according to the word of God.
I say this because growing up I would often hear people use the phrase in a greeting, or to say goodbye, and or to wish someone well that is facing hardship. And to be transparent, I will say, growing up in the Church, I often find it a bit confusing, and most often discouraging when people use the phrase to someone in need.
I often find it a bit confusing for a few reasons. One, I could not see how the person that was greeted with the phrase “May God bless you” benefited from the announcement. Worse off, I couldn’t see how the person going through hardship benefited from the greeting to be blessed.
For me it was a confusing mess that erected a wall of doubt in the bible and the life of Christianity, that is until I read the writings of James the brother of Jesus Christ. And upon listening to James, I then realize truly what he was communicating to the Church.
After listening to James, and the examples he gave regarding true faith at work, I quickly discovered we were incorrectly representing the meaning of what it means to be blessed or bless someone because to bless someone according to God’s word is to give someone something of value. It is to give your brother or sister something that will meet their needs.
James describes the word blessed with this question “James 2:15-17 “If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? The point James was making is that for faith to be effective, we must complement it with works. “Because faith, if it has no works, is dead, being alone.”
Now, in light of using the word “May God bless you” We need to understand the words by themselves do not benefit the person we seek to bless. Therefore, for us to truly bless someone, we are to complement our words with works for the person to truly receive a blessing. But for the sake of Psalm chapter one and to answer the question “Why are the righteous blessed” according to the theme of the message, the righteous are blessed because they received something of value from the Lord.
Discovering faith without works is dead, and words by themselves will produce no good results, we should now understand the words and promises of God are not standing alone. The spoken words of God are being complemented with actions or works, and because this is the reality, the righteous are blessed because of what they received from the Lord.
Considering Psalm one, the righteous are blessed because they received direction on how to escape God’s judgment. The picture painted for us in the Psalm is not dealing with God’s favor over the other because both men in the Psalm are equality loved by God. Both men were given the opportunity to respond to God’s warning, they both heard the message, but because of their difference in choices, one was considered blessed while the other was condemned in judgment.
The plan of God is not to destroy, his desire is to save the entire world from judgment, John wrote in light of this reality demonstrated by Jesus Christ who gave up his life on our behalf saying, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And because it was and is not the will of God that anyone should perish, he is making a public announcement concerning the coming judgment.
We know the righteous are blessed because they received something from the Lord, but we must also understand it was not a blessing gained through inaction. Rather, the righteous are considered blessed because of what they did when they heard the message of God. Upon hearing the word of God, the righteous believed God; the righteous took God at his word; in other words, the righteous took God seriously, and because they did, made arrangement to escape with their lives.
The message and blessing were the warnings that judgment was on its way, and to escape we must follow Jesus Christ who knows the way of escape. And having access to the Father, Jesus is aware of God’s plan of judgment, he is fully aware of the places to be judged and the locations that will be spared from judgment. Therefore, when he message was sent that God was about to judge the earth, Jesus provided details on how to escape by declaring, John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by me.” Because the only safe place to be is where the Father resides.
Unlike the righteous who took God at his word, the ungodly is considered ungodly because he scoffed at God’s word, he refused to believe, and because he refused to believe, he did nothing in preparation to save his life. Noah was righteous in his generation for two reasons, first, he believed God, and secondly mixing faith with works he did something in preparation to save his life. And because he acted in faith and confidence in God’s word he prospered in judgment.
Noah received word there was a coming judgment, “Genesis 6:7 “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repented me that I have made them.” And upon hearing God’s word, Noah obeyed God’s instruction.
“Genesis 6:13-14 “And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh has come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark, of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” Noah did what he was instructed to do and was able to both prosper and stand in the face of judgment.
Now considering prosperity and its meaning according to the word of God, prosperity is not to prosper by becoming rich as we count riches. In the light of the message and word of God, it is to be able to survive God’s outpouring judgment. Noah prospered because he obeyed God in making preparation according to God’s direction; and because he followed God’s direction, he was able to survive on the ark for the length of the storm.
While the righteous will flourish like a tree planted by rivers of waters, the ungodly will perish, but not because he was not given the opportunity to prepare for judgment. The ungodly is ungodly because he took a different direction rather than following God’s instructions, and having access to God’s word, he scoffed at it, and he continued in his way of unrighteousness and because he did, he was caught by surprise in judgment.
The ungodly was not able to stand in the face of judgment because he did not make proper preparation, he did not build his ark, nor did he prepare what was needed to survive the length of the flood. Therefore, when the fountains of the great deep broke open and the floodwaters began to come upon the earth, the ungodly was swept away in the flood. But Noah and his family survived the judgment.
Noah, the righteous was blessed because he believed God, and he prospered because he followed God’s direction on how to prepare for the coming flood. Following God’s direction, he built the ark the way God had instructed; he took the supplies and all the animals as directed and so prospered in the face of Judgment.
Noah was able to stand in judgment because he was justified by his faith, he was justified by his actions and attitude toward God’s word, and because he believed God. And as we draw closer to the hour in our generation, that is the return of Jesus Christ, we must remember the words of Jesus:
“Matthew 24:37-39 “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so, shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Are you prepared?