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First in a series on four Psalms everone should memorize. May 3, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Psalms, Religion, Scripture Memorization, Sermons.
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OUR THOUGHTS GUIDED BY GOD’S WORD

Psalm 1:1-6

The psalms were and are used in a variety of ways. As they were collected, this psalm was put at the beginning to set the stage for the other psalms. Some psalms are filled with joy. Others end in despair. They are as varied as the human condition itself. This psalm, however, has great importance because it sets the stage for the reality of life on which all the other psalms must play.

There are only two possible guides in this life (verses 1-2).

The guide of the wicked is man’s ways (verse 1). The way of the scientist who depends on facts and the way of the mystic who depends on feelings and impressions are one and the same, apart from the Word of God they are the ways of sinful men. The ability of the statesman to lead or of the teacher to guide apart from the Word of God, leads to the same path, ungodliness. The wisdom of the religious leader and the worldly wisdom of the businessman are to be found on the same throne when separated from the truth of the Word of God. That throne is scorn for God and for His Word. Sometimes it is open and blatant. At other times it is subtle and even appears moral but if a man is not guided by God’s Word, he is guided by his own ways and those ways are in rebellion against God.

The guide of the righteous is God’s Word (verse 2).

This verse along with verse 3 echoes the direct command of God to Joshua, 8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). You see there is no initial salvation, there is no continuing salvation, and there is no completed salvation apart from the law of God and the truth of God. For that reason, if we are to live the way of blessedness, we must saturate ourselves with the Word of God by meditating on it constantly and delighting in it.

That is the reason why every year, I encourage you to participate with me in the church-wide Awana memory program. The verses that we learn are verses that will build you up in your Christian life. I preach from those verses so that you may see you value. In that way, I am spoon feeding you truth. When you memorize those verses yourself and meditate on them, it is then and only then that you get the full strength that you should receive from them.

I know that there are many reasons given not to memorize the Scriptures. Memorization is not easy for some. Others have trouble finding time to memorize. I suspect, however, that we have plenty of time to memorize the nourishment of God’s Word and then meditate on it if we practiced proper stewardship of our time. We do not lack time for God’s Word. We lack purpose. We lack determination. We lack a good method. We lack motivation. We lack conviction. We lack passion. We lack so many things but we do not lack time for God’s Word. Alexander Whyte said it this way, “We shroud our indolence under the pretext of difficulty. The truth is, it is lack of real love for our work.” Let us be honest with ourselves.

The Lord has used Scripture memory and the meditation of Scripture to stabilize my life. It is a tool useful for assurance. It is a tool useful in prayer. It is a tool useful to stabilize you spiritually. It is a tool and while not everyone is equally skilled at Scripture memory, everyone should use it. When I was a kid working on my uncle’s hog farm, we use to go mend fences about every two weeks. Hogs and Alabama weather can be pretty hard on rough lumber fences. One day my uncle was holding a board while I was nailing it in place. Suddenly, he started laughing and poking fun at me because of my lack of skill with the hammer. He said I had a washerwoman swing. I am not exactly sure what that meant but I knew it was not a compliment. But he never took the hammer away. A hammer is a useful tool whether you are skilled with it or not and it just makes since to use it when you have to boards that you need nailed to each other. In the same way, if you want to meditate on the Scriptures day and night, it just makes since to put it some place where you can keep handy, in your mind.

Now the purpose of memorization, of Bible study, of Bible reading, of sermons are all the same. Meditation, the application of God’s Word to the heart. All of these things without proper meditation and applications will result in spiritual rickets. A big head with no strength in the body to perform any act. That is why we must do it day and night.

“It is a command of God to pray without ceasing, 1 Thess. 5:17. The meaning is—not that we should be always praying—but that we should every day set some time apart for prayer. We read in the Old law it was called the continual sacrifice, Numb. 28:24, not that the people of Israel did nothing else but sacrifice—but because they had their stated hours, every morning and evening they offered, therefore it was called the continual sacrifice. Thus the godly man is said to meditate day and night, that is, he is often at this work, he is no stranger to meditation.” Thomas Watson

Now I have already spoken to the importance of meditation and one method, memorization, which allows us to effectively meditate on God’s Word. Let me give you some other ways to more effectively meditate on God’s Word.

Focus on one smaller section of God’s Word or God’s truth. We have offered you four different psalms to memorize and focus on during the summer months. Pick one or two and focus on them until they become strength to your bones.

Examine yourself. Ask yourself, is this the way I am or not? Is this truth shown in my life or not? If you know the answer and you need to make changes, then do so. If you are not sure then you need to meditate more on that truth and on that Scripture and do so until you understand whether your life corresponds to that Scripture.

Pray for insight and guidance and strength.

Although the road is varied, there are only two destinations (verses 3-6). Whether or not you delight to meditate in God’s Word, that is, to apply God’s Word to your heart, is the ultimate evidence that shows on which road you are traveling.

The righteous will prosper (verse 3c). It is important to understand what is meant by the prosperity of the righteous. Our ideas of prosperity tend to the earthly, the financial. Fortunately, this psalm defines for us in verses 4-6 what the prosperity of the righteous is.

The prosperity of the righteous is defined by its opposite, the damnation of the wicked (4-6). In the New Testament, the term eternal life is often used to describe spiritual prosperity. Now it is not that God cannot and does not prosper those who serve Him with earthly blessings. He sometimes does but that is not the promise that is given here. Even in the Old Testament, we find that the prosperity promised to Israel was primarily spiritual and only incidentally earthly. Remember the verse in Joshua 1:8 that we read that promised prosperity to Israel if they would meditate on and keep the law. Certainly, the context of Joshua reveals to us that the promised land was an important part of that prosperity but the book of Hebrews reminds us that even the conquest of the promised land was only incidental to the great spiritual prosperity that God had promised to Israel (Hebrews 4:6-10) otherwise that prosperity would have been completed under Joshua and there would have been no need for Jesus Christ, the covenant would have been fulfilled and accomplished.

The prosperity of the righteous accomplishes its intended purpose (verse 3). The righteous are compared to a tree planted by the rivers of water. It was purposely put in the place where it could grow. When God saves you, makes you righteous, you are put in a place of eternal nourishment and though it may be winter all around you, your lead will not wither, your faith will not fail.

The prosperity of the righteous is perpetual (verse 3). Although our leaf will never wither, that does not mean we have reached our full potential. There is, however, a season that we can look forward to and be assured that we will produce the fruit of righteousness. Now there are a lot of different types of fruit mentioned in the Bible. There is the fruit of the Spirit. There is the fruit of souls won to Christ. There is the fruit that is produced by true faith. The focus here, however, is fruit that will stand at the judgment.

The wicked will be judged (verses 4-6). Some of the early translations in other languages translate verse 4 like this, “not so the ungodly, not so.” What a contrast between the righteous and the wicked.

The prosperity of the wicked is temporary (verse 4).

Why do we as believers sometimes feel like chaff? Why do we feel driven by the wind? Why do we not feel strong and stable like a tree planted by the rivers of waters. The answer, of course, is to be found in verse 2. Our delight is not in the law of the LORD. We do not meditate day and night in God’s Word. Ps 111:2 says, “The works of the LORD are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them.”

Sometimes I desire spiritual growth in my life but am not willing to turn to the source that supplies growth. I find pleasure in the blessings of God but not the Word in God. How can I? This is no doubt the weakness of my life and of many of you as well. We desire not daily meditation on the LORD in our lives, but rather just His blessing. Lord, help us to see ourselves as we really are. Help us to be trees, rooted and grounded in your word.

The judgment of the wicked is complete (verse 5).

There are two pictures in this verse. The first is that when the wicked stand before the God in the judgment, they will not stand, that is, they will not endure before the judgment of God. They will not be able to justify themselves or give an excuse. They will not be able to push through a not guilty verdict but will proclaimed for the universe, guilty and condemned.

The second picture fills out the first. The ungodly will be cut off from the congregation of the righteous. We speak often of eternal punishment being separation from God but it is also separation from God’s people. From the very thing that is most precious and holy to God, the sinner will be cut off. During the time of Moses, there were certain offenses where is one was found to be guilty, the punishment was termed cut off from the congregation, that is, the people of Israel. This is the picture we have here. The wicked are found guilty before God and the punishment is being put out of the one body that is important to God, His people. Both New Testament and Old Testament make it clear that salvation is more than just individual, it is corporate. Punishment, however, is lonely and suffered alone. Salvation is a team sport. You join the team as an individual but from then on you are from God’s perspective integrated into Christ’s body, the congregation of the righteous. Damnation, on the other hand, is totally individual.

The destruction of the wicked is total (verse 6). This is more fully explained in Psalm 37:18-24, “The LORD knows the days of the upright, And their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish; And the enemies of the LORD, Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish. Into smoke they shall vanish away. The wicked borrows and does not repay, But the righteous shows mercy and gives. For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth, But those cursed by Him shall be cut off. The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.”

The Lord knows the way of the righteous but one cannot become righteous without knowing the truth and that is the reason why we need the Word of God. It is only in knowing and believing and obeying His Word that we can become righteous, that we can enter into the congregation of the righteous. His Word teaches that Jesus Christ is God, that He came into the world as a man for the purpose of dying for our sin that we might through faith in Him alone can have salvation. Every other way will perish. Every will faith will end in destruction. We can be like a tree or like chaff. It depends on whether you follow God’s way or man’s way. If you delight to meditate on God’s Word you will follow God’s way and you will be blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.

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