Psalm 1:1-6
The Power of Pleasure Thinking

 Favorite Psalms part 1
    
Meditation is the natural activity that comes from delight. The first time you fell in love with someone you meditated on that person - day and night. People who love football have their thoughts consumed with football. People who delight in travel and vacations spend their free thoughts thinking about their next trip. In your free time, when your mind can go wherever it wants, where does it go? That’s what your heart delights in. Delight causes meditation, and meditation also causes more delight.

This psalm promises a blessed life to those who delight in God’s Word. The sermon describes the meaning of “blessed life,” and contrasts it with the life that is like worthless, weightless chaff. Then it reveals how to have that blessed life through delighting in Scripture.  
  
Introduction to the Psalms
 
There is a reason why the book of Psalms has always been so loved and treasured by the people of God through the last 30 centuries. It is such an easy book to relate to. No other book draws a clearer connection between God and the issues of daily life. In the Psalms you don’t get neatly stacked categories of theology. What you get is love and hatred, fear and trust, joy and sorrow, hope and despair—all breaking in upon one another and overlapping and competing for our attention in the chaos of life. That is how we experience life and so we can relate to the Psalms. In the Psalms we learn how to cry out to God in the midst of all that and how to relate emotionally to God. In the rest of the Bible God speaks to man; in the Psalms man speaks to God. But it is just as inspired as the rest of the Bible, which means it is God speaking through man. So this book shows us what it looks like when the Spirit of God responds to the Word of God through the feelings and thoughts and words of the people of God.
 
What other piece of literature ever written is as immediately relevant and as easily seen as relevant than the Psalms? When you open the book of Psalms, you are looking at words that have had countless tears of both joy and sorrow dripped down on them in prayer closets of millions of saints in every part of the world for over 3000 years. One of those prayer closets was the one Jesus used. The first psalm I ever memorized as a kid was Psalm 23. I wonder how old Jesus was the first time His parents taught Him the Twenty-third psalm.
 
Do you realize what holy ground we are on when we look at these words? When you open up this book you are looking at the same words, marveling over the same thoughts, that kings and prophets and apostles and Jesus Himself read, prayed over, wept over, memorized, drew strength from, and treasured. One of those saints was Jeremiah. Our text today is Psalm 1, and if you read Jeremiah 17 you will see right away that Jeremiah read and thought deeply about the words of Psalm 1.[1]
 
Psalm 1:1-8 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
 
Introduction: What Would it Take?
 
Do you think anyone looks at your life and thinks, Man, I wish my life were going like that? They see the way things are going for you and they think, That’s what I was hoping for in my life. Are things going that well in your life? Is your life an enviable one? Probably somewhat in certain areas, maybe not so much in others? Let me ask you this - what would it take to make it better - so your life would be more enviable? What would you have to change or add or stop doing or obtain or accomplish or accumulate - what would it take for you to have a more desirable life? God’s answer to that question is in Psalm 1. There is something you could do, you could do it today, and by the end of this sermon you’ll know what it is.
 
Two Kinds of People: The Righteous and the Wicked
 
But first - a little background on Psalm 1. Whoever arranged the psalm in the book of Psalms decided that this book would begin with a wisdom psalm. It sounds like something out of the book of Proverbs.[2] And as we enter into this doorway to the book, we are immediately divided into two groups: the righteous and the wicked. Those are the only two characters in the book of Psalms, and the first psalm lets you know which character you are - which of those two groups you are in.
 
No Other Group
 
You are in one of them. There is no other category. And that is always a little unsettling because the righteous appear so good in this book, and the wicked appear to be so bad, that most of us don’t really feel we fit in either category. We always want to imagine ourselves somewhere in the middle. But Scripture never gives us that option. You are either a wicked, vile reprobate enemy of God, or you follow His Word and worship the Lord with pure hands and a clean heart. God will not allow us any comfortable middle ground of complacent, half-baked, half-hearted commitment to Him. So when you see the blessings of the righteous in this psalm (and others), if you are a genuine believer, those blessings will have two effects:
 
1) They will give you great joy when you realize they are yours
 
2) They will motivate you to make sure you really do fit the description of righteous.
 
And they will alarm you where you see your life not fitting that description very well.
 
God never gives us any comfortable middle ground, because if there are only two categories, and if you think you are in the middle that means there is just as much chance you are in one category as in the other. So these Psalms should encourage you and motivate you at the same time.
 
Two Outcomes: Blessing or Doom
 
OK, so what are those characteristics? How do you know which group you are in? I’ll get to that. But first let’s skip ahead and take a peek at the two outcomes of these categories. And there are only two possible outcomes to life: blessing or perishing. Let’s start with blessing.
 
Blessing
 
The first word in Psalm 1 is blessed. It is hard to translate the exact idea of this word into English because our culture is so contaminated with superstition and godlessness. The closest words we have in English to this word would be fortunate or lucky. When we were little kids we used to use the phrase “lucky duck.” Someone gets something really great and you say, “You’re such a lucky duck.” What we meant by that phrase was, “You have a benefit that is of great worth, and that places you in an enviable position, and that calls for celebration on your part.” When we get a little older we might use the word “fortunate” instead of “lucky,” but those two words mean exactly the same thing.
 
The problem with both those words is that luck and fortune are pagan ideas. They are the naturalistic, atheistic substitutes for the concept of blessing. They eliminate God from the picture. We use those terms all the time (“Unfortunately I was caught in traffic - just my luck”). The word “blessed” means you have a benefit that is desirable, it is of great worth- so much so that it places you in an enviable position, and it calls for celebration on your part, and, most importantly, it is an expression of God’s favor. To be lucky means to have reason to celebrate. To be blessed means you have reason to celebrate because God has given you some expression of His favor. And there just is not any common English word that communicates that. Our culture has pushed God so far out of our vocabulary that the English language is losing its ability to clearly portray certain aspects of reality.
 
What Kind of Life is Worth Chasing?
 
And whenever the Bible gives a description of blessedness, theologians call that a “beatitude.” If a sentence starts with “Blessed is the one who...” – that is called a beatitude. And the Bible is loaded with them. Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with a whole list of them. And you find them all over in the Bible, including here. The very first line in the book of Psalms is a beatitude. Why? Because one of the most important pieces of information God wants you to know is who is blessed. Who are the enviable ones who have it made, and who are the pitiable ones who are in bad shape in life? God wants us to know that, because it is an area where there is a lot of confusion. There are some people who are in terrible straits. They are described in this psalm as being like the chaff that the wind blows away. They are nothing, nobodies, their lives are pointless and worthless. And yet, instead of being pitied, they are envied by millions. Some of them perform on stages in front of millions, some are professional quarterbacks, singers, actors, models. People look at them and say, “Those are the fortunate ones. Those are the ones who have reason to celebrate. Those people have it made. That is the kind of life I want to chase after. I want to become a famous singer or pro athlete or popular author. Fame, riches, success, power - that is blessedness.” We are naturally so confused on who is blessed and who isn’t, and so in His great mercy God gives us the beatitudes of Scripture to save us from wasting our lives by desiring and chasing after the wrong things.
 
If you want to know who the people are who really have it made - what kind of life is really worth chasing after, this psalm will tell you. The word blessed in verse 1 is actually plural (“Blesseds is the man”). That is the Hebrew way of putting an exclamation point on the sentence. So a more accurate translation would be something like, “Oh, the blessedness of the man…!” That should motivate us. Anytime you see a door in Scripture with the word “Blessed” over it, you can be sure that behind that door you will find a description of a godly man. But don’t look at it only as a description of a godly man. The word “blessed” is used for a reason. God does not just say, “Here’s a description of godliness.” He says, “Here’s the reward of godliness.” And God expects that promise of reward to motivate us. So what is the promise here?
 
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
 
Let’s look at that piece by piece.
 
Life and Vitality
 
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water
 
The word for streams here refers to irrigation canals. In that part of the world most of the streams were full of water during the rains, but completely dry other times. But the irrigation canals would run all the time. And this tree did not just happen to grow there - it was intentionally planted in an ideal environment. To put this imagery into our world it is like saying “Your life will be like a tree planted in an arboretum or botanical garden.” Always vital and thriving because you have all that you need. Your roots go down deep to tap into that same living water Jesus promised the woman at the well. And when the droughts come, you will continue to flourish and thrive while people around you dry up. Would you like that? How about this:
 
Fruitfulness
 
3 ...which yields its fruit in season
 
Not only are you steadfast and solid, and not only is your life thriving and flourishing, but your life will also produce good things. Most people’s lives are dysfunctional. They may be making a living and paying their bills and their kids are getting good grades at school, but they are not producing spiritually. God created them for a specific purpose and that purpose is not being realized. And so even though they are making a lot of money and they are real busy and everything looks great on the outside, the truth is they are like a broken down car sitting out in the back yard with weeds growing up through it. To everyone looking on they look like their life is up and running, but spiritually speaking, they are sitting up on jacks. But the man who has God’s blessing on his life has a deep sense of fulfillment, because he knows, “I’m accomplishing what I was put on this earth to accomplish.”
 
Durability
 
3 ...and whose leaf does not wither.
 
That is durability. If you are one of these people, when the harsh winds and the extended droughts come, and all the other trees are drying up and withering away, you are still healthy and green. You have a joy and a happiness that is deep and continues in any circumstances. Any trial can come crashing into your life, no matter how devastating and painful, and you don’t wilt under it.
 
A healthy tree is the picture of strength and long-term steadfastness. Is that a virtue anyone here could use? Can you imagine your New Year’s resolutions lasting all year? How would you like to be able to always follow through on commitments? How would you like to be able to face some really hard relationship upheaval, and be able to maintain a steady course of humble, godly responses - no matter how much people provoke you, no matter how confusing things get, no matter the temptations - you have that stable, rooted, unshakable, unflappable course? Maybe you are married to an unbeliever, or you have a serious physical illness that isn’t going away any time soon, or wayward children or an estranged relationship. Short little bursts of resolve won’t cut it. If you are the type whose commitment and resolve fades in and out, you will never be able to endure for the long haul. But if you could take a pill that would give you this virtue of steadfastness – or they could do some procedure on your heart and make you like an oak in your perseverance and strength, how much would you pay for it? What an incredibly valuable thing! If you have that, you have cause to celebrate. People would have reason to wish they were you. That is blessedness for sure. But there is more.
 
Success
 
3 ...Whatever he does prospers.
 
Here he drops the tree analogy and just states the point directly. The life of the blessed man or woman prospers – it is full of success everywhere you look. Is that an absolute promise - nothing ever fails? No. This benefit is not anymore absolute than the requirement is absolute. It is proverbial. So it is not absolute but it is true. There are exceptions, but the prosperity and flourishing success is still the rule. If you have this blessedness, God will crown your endeavors with blessing and tokens of His favor will abound all around you. Your life will be shot through with prosperity and efforts that succeed.
 
And it won’t be fortune or good luck - it will be blessedness. Things won’t just go well for you - they will go well because of God’s favor.
 
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked will perish.
 
Literally it says the LORD knows the way of the righteous. This is talking about that kind of knowledge that implies relational favor in intimate interest - like we saw in our study of Psalm 139. That is why the NIV correctly translates it “watches over.”
 
Psalm 37:18 The days of the blameless are known to the LORD, and their inheritance will endure forever.
 
This is blessedness with a capital B! Who doesn’t want stability, steadfastness, durability, vitality, fruitfulness, prosperity and success? If you have money or fame or power but you do not have these things, your life is horrible. But if you have these things, you have it made no matter what your financial situation is like. If you have these blessings on your life you have the ticket to happiness. And the purpose of this psalm is to teach you how you can have a life like that.
 
Remember the question I posed at the beginning? I asked, what would you have to do to make your life more enviable - the kind of life people would see and say, “I was hoping my life would turn out like that”? How can you make your life better - more blessed? I don’t know what answers came into your mind when I first asked that. Maybe you thought a better job would do it, better health, more education, fame, talent, some lucky breaks, power, getting married, getting unmarried. None of those are the answer. You can have all those things and have a miserable, pitiable life. The way to have a really good life is to have all these blessings - to be like a fruitful tree. But before I tell you how to get that blessedness, let me show you what your life will be like if you don’t get it.
 
Doom
 
The Opposite of Blessing
 
4 Not so the wicked! They are like the chaff that the wind blows away.
 
Instead of being like a flourishing, thriving, lush, fruitful tree, they are like chaff. They are not blessed, and their lives are not enviable. And most people are in that category.[3] As you move through the world you will find 1 in 1000 who get the blessing of Psalm 1.
 
Most people have chaff-likeness to look forward to in their future. You might expect the contrast would be with a scrawny dried up tree. But it is even starker than that. He picks the most worthless part of plant life imaginable: chaff - the husk of a piece of grain. Farmers would take their harvested wheat and throw it up into the air. They would not do it when it was windy, obviously, or all the wheat would blow away. They would do it when there was a gentle breeze. That way the wheat would just fall down to the floor but the chaff, which is so light and without substance, would be carried away even by a slight breeze.
 
That is a description of a worthless life. A fruitless tree might be useful for shade. A dead tree could be useful for firewood. Dirt is useful for growing crops. Even a broken piece of pottery can be useful for someone like Job to scrape his sores. But there is absolutely no value to chaff. That is what these people are like. They might make money, get promotions, have success in the eyes of the world, but the reality is their life is as worthless as chaff. In contrast to the steadfastness of the righteous mighty rooted trees that can withstand any storm, they can’t even withstand an afternoon breeze. And that will be very bad news for them on Judgment Day.
 
Punishment
 
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
They will be punished on Judgment Day for every last one of their sins with the wrath of God in the lake of fire. None of their excuses will hold, none of their arguments or defenses will decrease their punishment in the slightest. They will see the righteous receiving reward, and they will want to be part of that group, but it will be too late.
 
So the book of Psalms starts out saying, “There are only two categories of people: the ones that have blessedness and the ones who do not.” You are definitely in one group or the other. And the purpose of this psalm is to describe to you how to make sure you are in the blessed group and not the other group. And if you want to know what the difference is, I can give it to you in a single word: delight. What delights your heart? There are two dominate affections in life: love for the world and love God’s Word. The main issue in life - the biggest factor that determines what kind of person you are - righteous or wicked, is not what you do as much as what you love. And not just what you love, but also what you don’t love. And that is where he starts with the righteous - they do not love the world.
 
Two Loves: The Word or the World
 
What He Does Not Delight In
 
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
 
Unmixed Delight
 
In verse 2 we will see what he does delight in but it is worth noting that the negative comes first. He does not want to just give the positive without the negative, because we need to understand that both are crucial. If all we had were the positive - if it just said, “This is what the blessed man delights in” - we might be content to go through life with mixed delight. We might think, “as long as I delight in good, it is OK for me to also delight in a little bit of the world.” But that is not the case. It is not enough to delight in the good; we must also not delight in this world, because if you do delight in this world, you are not blessed.
 
“What does it look like to delight in this world?”
 
Three categories. It starts with their counsel.
 
1. Does Not Delight In Human Wisdom
 
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.
 
That word counsel refers to their purposes, plans and ideas - the world’s way of thinking and looking at things.[4] When we think of the enticements of evil we tend to think of things like illicit sex or alcohol or dishonest gain, etc. But the very first worldly enticement God mentions here is the enticement and allure of human wisdom. Christians flock to secular counselors by the millions. They pay thousands of dollars to visit secular psychologists and psychiatrists, they tune in to Oprah or Dr. Phil, they read secular self-help books or magazine articles. There are Christians who are still feeding off of Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner, or whatever “expert” happens to be on the news report. They look to psychology books for solutions to spiritual problems. Going to those kinds of people for advice on spiritual matters is just as evil as going to pornography for sexual fulfillment or going to drugs for emotional fulfillment. It is a symptom of delighting in evil.
 
And you wouldn’t think it would be all that alluring, but for many Christians it really is. Why? Because of the kind of counsel the world gives. They say the things that our flesh - the sinful part of us, wants to hear. They say things like this: You deserve to be angry. Or You have to set up boundaries to protect yourself. Or The solution to your problems is within you. God provides help and assistance when you need it, but the core of the solution to your problem is within your own power. And it will come from human ideas and solutions. They entice us with the message of self-love, self-esteem, self-fulfillment, self-actualization, self-sufficiency, independence - and that just feeds our pride and our natural inclination to imagine we are not desperately dependent upon God for everything. One of the most flagrant blatant ways the Church has committed adultery with the world has been in the area of human wisdom. But the blessed person does not delight in their counsel, nor does he delight in their way of living.
 
2. Does Not Delight In The Worldly Lifestyle
 
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked… or stand in the way of sinners
 
The word way refers to the manner of living. But the point is not just that you avoid taking that wrong path. The point is that you do not stand in the path of the people who are sinners. Sinners are people who love their sin and refuse to repent of it. If you want all that blessedness I described earlier, and you want to avoid the horrible alternative, then you must not delight in the company of sinners. Do we show kindness to them? Yes. Do we want to reach them for Christ? Of course. But we do not enjoy their company or seek them out as companions. When we do interact with them we pull them toward the righteous path – we do not stand around with them over on their sinful path.
 
Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.
 
1 Corinthians 15:33 Bad company corrupts good character.
 
Jeremiah 15:17 I never sat in the company of revelers, never made merry with them; I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. ... 19 Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.
 
That is why Lot was such a righteous man - because he couldn’t stand the wickedness of the world.
 
2 Peter 2:7 he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)
 
He is called righteous three times in two verses just because he hated worldliness.
 
3. Does Not Join In With Mockers
 
So what kind of a person is it who gets all this amazing blessedness? The kind who does not delight in human wisdom and who does not delight in the company of sinners, and then one more:
 
1 ... or sit in the seat of mockers.
 
When a person tries to hold on to a belief system that is irrational and that is contradicted by overwhelming evidence, the nagging reality of the truth and the objections of conscience can be hard to ignore. And sometimes the only way to hold it at bay is to turn to mockery. If you cannot fight it with sound reason, if you just turn to scoffing and ridiculing it, that can make you feel a little better about yourself. That prevents them from having to think.
 
And the thing about mockers - they always keep a seat open next to them. They are the easiest group in the world to join. They give you two choices: Option #1 is you can join them and you will be immediately unconditionally welcomed into their circle. Join their mocking and you are instantly accepted by them. The other option is to refuse to take a seat among them, in which case you become the object of their mockery.
 
The word translated seat, or group in this context probably has the sense of “assembly.”  Mockers tend to be flockers - they group together. Mockers tend to gravitate together because your conscience does not bother you as much when everyone around you is doing the same thing. Plus, the more mockers they can add to the group the more authoritative they feel in their judgments. Making fun of God is stupid. But if you get around a big enough group of other people doing the same thing, they can all affirm each other as being smart, and  their mockery starts to feel more rational and justified.
 
And that is enticing. Why? Because if you don’t join them, you become the object of their ridicule. But if you do join them, you are accepted and held up as being really smart. We want to be accepted by the world. We want them to respect our intelligence and not think of us as being primitive or superstitious. We want them to respect our music and not think of us as weird. We want them to respect our lifestyle and not think of us as puritanical or prudish. We want them to respect our scholarship and not think of us as biased toward religious belief. We want them to like us, and so we are enticed to have a seat in their assembly.
 
It even comes to the point where I have heard preachers mock godly things right from the pulpit – just to show the world that he’s cool. And this is really a problem in the academic world. The mockers are the ones who get hired as professors in universities, and their articles are published in respected journals, and they get the phone call to be interviewed on TV as experts. Spurgeon says “The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein.” That celebrity who seems to be sitting way up high in untouchable glory, mocking the Christian way - very soon that throne of his will tip slightly and he will slide right off into the fires of God’s wrath. Thomas Adams says “That which a man spits against heaven shall fall back on his own face.”[5] That is kind of a comical picture – if you imagine a guy standing there looking straight up and trying to spit at God. But it is a perfect image of what happens to those who mock God. Eventually their mockery comes right back down on their own head.
 
So blessed is the man who is not enticed by all that. He is not enticed by the world’s wisdom, ways or attitudes - he has absolutely no interest in them - whether it be standing, walking or sitting.[6] You see, worldliness is not just a way of behaving. It is a way of thinking and feeling, and it is absolutely incompatible with love for God.
 
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
 
James 4:4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
 
You cannot love God and love the world anymore than you can be devoted to your husband while giving your heart and body to another man.
 
What He Does Delight In
 
So all that is what the blessed person does not delight in. So what does he delight in?
 
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
 
Instead of being attracted to this world’s thoughts and ideas and perspectives and ways of thinking, the blessed person is attracted to the Word of God. The word translated law, in this context means instruction. It includes God’s commandments, His promises, warnings, rebukes, encouragements, exhortations, comforts, examples, illustrations, biographies - all the various ways God instructs us in the Bible. The most fundamental characteristic of the righteous is they love the truth of the Word of God. They love it so much, look what they do:
 
Delight And Meditation
 
The Activity of Delight: Meditation
 
2 ...and on his law he meditates day and night.
 
The way you can tell if your heart really takes delight in the Word of God is if you meditate on it day and night. Meditation is the natural activity that comes from delight. When your affections are set to delight in something, the action that comes from that is meditation. The first time you fell in love with someone you meditated on that person - day and night. People who love football have their thoughts consumed with football. People who delight in travel and vacations spend their free thoughts thinking about their next trip. If you find yourself spending your free time thinking mostly about the last movie or TV show you watched, or the novel you’re reading, or the secular music you’re listening to, or your unbelieving friends, or some academic study - that is what you delight in.
 
And the reason I say “free time” is because that is what really indicates where your heart is. Your job or schooling might require a lot of thought - that’s fine. I am talking about where your mind goes when it can go wherever it wants. That is what you delight in; that is what you love.
 
Psalm 119:47 for I delight in your commands because I love them.
 
Meditation is a function of delight, and delight is a component of love.
 
The Hebrew word for “meditate” literally means “to mumble.” The idea is that you are pouring over a passage and you are so lost in that passage that you begin mumbling out loud to yourself. And throughout the day you are mumbling that passage to yourself as you examine it from every possible angle. God wants us to think deeply about His thoughts. If you want help on how to meditate on God’s Word, I preached a sermon on that back in 2005 titled Meditation 101, and it is on the website as part 2 of the Favorite Psalms series. But for now, I just want to leave you with one last point.
 
The Result of Meditation: More Delight
 
For some of you, it might be alarming to hear that the thing that indicates whether you are righteous or wicked is what you delight in - what you love and what you desire. That principle is new to a lot of people. We hear a whole lot about what we are to do and say and think, but very little about what we are to feel and crave and desire. The Bible is jammed full of commands about what we are to feel and desire, but they get neglected in sermons and books and conferences because it almost feels wrong to tell people how they are required to feel. The naturalistic, evolutionary belief system of our culture says that feelings and desires are not things you have any say in - they just happen to you. But that is not true. There are some very definite things you can do that will make your emotions and your desires go one way or the other. And the most basic one is right here: meditation. Delight causes meditation, but meditation also causes more delight. It is an upward cycle. The more you think about the things you love thinking about, the more you love thinking about them.
 
Enjoyment through Thought
 
And the reason that works is because of the nature of meditation. Meditation is essentially enjoyment through thought. There are various ways to enjoy something. You can enjoy something soft by touching it. You can enjoy a good meal by tasting it - or by smelling it - or to some degree even by looking at it. Meditation is when you enjoy something by thinking about it. That is why meditation is found in contexts alongside rejoicing and delighting.
 
Psalm 119:14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. 16 I delight in your decrees
 
Rejoice...meditate...delight.
 
Psalm 119:23 your servant will meditate on your decrees. 24 Your statutes are my delight
 
It is when you think deeply and long and hard about a passage of Scripture that it starts seeping into the pours of your heart so that it activates your will and purifies your desires so that you find yourself finally able to obey in ways you were not able to before. That is why it is the key to obedience.
 
Joshua 1:8  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
 
You meditate so that you can obey. Just knowing the truth is never enough. You cannot change the color of the fabric of your life by knowing about dye. You have to sit and soak in that dye for a while before any real change takes place. That is why he says day and night.
 
Meditation gazes upon the desirable aspects of something until it moves the heart. Meditation on Scripture is kind of like allowing your pupils to dilate so you can see clearly when it’s dark. You put other distractions aside, and it is like moving away from the lights of the city so you can see more stars. As you gaze into the heavens and the distracting light of earth is removed, your pupils open up more and more, and where you saw ten stars before now you see 1000. And then you use a “telescope” (a commentary, concordance, sermon, etc.) you can see that you aren’t looking at 1000 stars but 1000 galaxies.
 
But if your meditation is on the world’s delights and treasures, that is where your desires will go. So if your heart is being pulled toward some sinful or worldly thing, and the love you should have for the Word of God and the people of God and the way of God is getting weaker and weaker, it is probably because the gaze of your heart is set on this world’s treasures and delights instead of God’s treasures and delights. So to correct that you may have to turn off the TV and open your Bible. You may have to say no to some worldly friends and instead of going out with them, join a 1:25 group. You may have to switch the radio from secular music to worship music. You may have to spend more time in prayer than watching movies. You may have to trade parties for ministry. And you will for sure have to do those things with a receptive, expectant, eager heart. You do those things as a reluctant, burdensome duty and you will just learn to dislike them all the more. But if you do them with eyes wide open, search and seeking and scanning for what is beautiful and good and satisfying about those things, God will show you, and over time your desires and appetites will start to change. And then your life will go from chaff to blessedness.
 
So as we pass through the turnstile of Psalm 1 to enter the book of Psalms, we are immediately divided into two groups - the blessed ones, and the ones who are headed for punishment and wrath. And the way to tell which group you are in is by what you take delight in - the world and their wisdom or God and His wisdom. The good news is it is your choice. Whatever you meditate on - whatever you enjoy through thinking about it – that is the direction your desires will grow. Meditate on the Word so you begin to delight in the Word, and you will be like a tree planted by streams of living water.
 
Do you want to have a worthless, empty, pointless life? Do you want a life that calls for pity? Run after the world’s wisdom. It will turn your life to chaff. But if you want to have the steadfastness and endurance of an oak tree, and you want your life to flourish and thrive and prosper and succeed and bear fruit and fulfill its purpose and to receive God’s blessing and favor - how do you get all that? And what determines whether you are in the category called “the righteous” or the category called “the wicked”? It is all determined by what you delight in - the world or the Word. If you want your life to be more blessed, love the Bible. Stop loving the world, and crave the pure, spiritual milk from God’s Word like a baby craves mother’s milk, and you will be blessed.
 
Benediction: Matthew 7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
 
James 1:25 Questions
 
The sermon began by asking what would have to happen in order for your life to become more enviable. Did this study change your perspective on the answer to that question?
 
What aspect of your life is the most questionable when it comes to being firmly in the “righteous” category?
 
Describe your level of delight in God’s Word and in the world (weaknesses and strengths).
 
Share with the group any decisions you might have made regarding meditation (on Scripture and on the world).
 
 

[1] It was Jeremiah’s common practice to take earlier writings from Scripture and expand on them. That is what he does with Psalm 1.
 
Jer 17:5-8 This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. 7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
[2] It has a kind of proverbial, wisdom-literature feel to it. The psalms were written by various authors at different times, but someone at some point put them all together in a single book with a very definite order and structure and arrangement. We don’t know who that was, but when you look at which one was placed first, you have to wonder if it was Solomon. You can imagine Solomon taking the collection of so many of the works of his father and compiling them and writing an introduction to them that sounds like something out of the book of Proverbs.
     Whoever wrote it, it serves as the perfect introduction to the book of Psalms. In fact in the earliest manuscripts of Acts 13, Psalm 2 is referred to as the first Psalm. So it may be that Psalm 1 was originally not numbered but served as a preface to the book. Another possibility is that psalms 1 and 2 were originally one psalm, but that does not seem as likely given the different themes and style and the completeness of each individually. And there is some good evidence that that was the case (see The NIV Application Commentary). Whatever the tool He used, God saw to it that this psalm would be the first thing you read when you open the book. There are some wisdom principles God wants us to know before we step through the gateway into the book of Psalms. Psalm One is the doorway that lets us enter in to the wonderful, beautiful, life-changing world of the book of Psalms.
[3] Notice that the word man in verse 1 is singular. The words wicked, sinners and mockers are all plural. The psalm paints a picture of the godly man being vastly outnumbered by the wicked.
[4] It is very often translated “plans.” When someone just has purposes in his own heart those are plans. But when he shares his purposes with you, it becomes counsel.
[5] Treasury p.5
[6] A common tool in Hebrew thought was to express a superlative idea with a three-fold repetition. And I think that is what he is doing here. He makes his point by showing it to us from three angles so we really get the fullness of the depth of the idea. I don’t think the point is to show a progression from walking to sitting . Those who see a progression would probably see it just as much if it were reversed - “sit, stand, walk.”