So I’m going to invite you to Psalm 1. We don’t want anybody freaking out this morning, okay? But we do want to get excited about our new series that we’re in in the book of Psalms. We’re titling this, The Greatest Hits. If you know anything about the book of Psalms it’s because Israel saw this book as their greatest hits. The book of Psalms was their worship book. There are a lot things that I just want to share about the significance of Psalms in the weeks ahead as we go through the series. We’re going to spend this month going through this book of Psalms.
Psalms, the desire of Psalms is to provoke your heart in worship. I love the book of Psalms, especially when you encounter struggles in lives, because the writing in Psalms is very real in a person’s experience as it relates to God. Sometimes when you think about pursuing the Lord and you look at other people and you think, “Man, they seem to have it all together.” They don’t, really, but you might look at them that way. And you look at yourself and you’re like, “I’m not that person! What book do I go to?” Well, Psalms is a great book that just makes you feel reasonable and rational as far as figuring out this life as a human being.
God used this book for Israel in their worship. Different Psalms relate to different aspects to what Israel was going through and seasons of life or certain religious gatherings or celebrations of festivals. Or even coronations of kings, these Psalms were important for them in how they worshiped.
The book of Psalms is poetry and it’s written really to be sung. In a way, it’s a prayerful song before the Lord. They had 150 of them. Just as Israel incorporated it in their worship, so these Psalms, these words reflected throughout the Psalms, should be incorporated in our worship even before we sang a song this morning, Tyler read from a section of Psalms to encourage our heart and to see where it was relevant that we ask God to allow us to be a generation to seek his face.
When you look at the book of Psalms, as far as literary genres understood, it’s divided into sections. There’s five sections in the book of Psalms. The first one’s chapters 1 to 141, and the second section starts chapter 42, they end in amens or hallelujahs. That’s how you know you get to the end of those sections. The first section’s over 40 chapters, the next one’s only 30 chapters. It’s broken into five sections, some scholars believe it’s because it reflects the first five books of the Bible that Moses had written.
But the interesting thing about Psalms, I told you it’s poetry, but we think about poetry, it’s all about rhymes, right? But when the Hebrews wrote poetry, it was all about lines. And so what they did was rather than rhyme, they wrote lines that paralleled. And so when you read the book of Psalms you’ll see this, you’ll either see that the author will write one line and the second line will either enhance the first line or it will be antithetical to the first line. It’ll be the opposition to it. When you read through the Psalms, it’s easy to see how they lay out when you keep in mind that it’s not written in rhymes, though we think of poetry that way. But rather it’s written in lines.
And the book of Psalms, as far the New Testament goes, you see many of the authors in the New Testament appreciating what is the book of Psalms. One of the cool things I think about is, you know, March, we’re going to look Psalms, and then April, we’re going to talk about the significance of the resurrection of Jesus. I mean, that’s our Easter month, right? But the Psalms, as it relates to the Passover, were very significant in the lives of Israel. They knew, as they got to the Passover, that when they would walk into Jerusalem and get ready for the Passover celebration, that they would often be singing Psalm 113 to 118. It was the hallel, the Psalms of praise before God and what God represented to them.
The New Testament authors, because of this, quote significantly from the book of Psalms. But in all of it, the book of Psalms is a worship book. The Psalms to me are a beautiful section of scripture. They are personal in their response to God. They show us what a genuine, authentic relationship with God should look like in the middle of the mess of what life can be. They demonstrate a God who cares and that teaches us to expose ourselves in the midst of who we are to that God who cares.
Some people tend to, when they come to church, they approach church with this religious mentality where, before they walk in the door, they feel like they’ve got to get themselves together and then come in. But the book of Psalms really demonstrates for us that that’s just not the case. The only reason we have it together at all is because of God. And it’s the Lord who brings the beauty out of the mess.
And so the calling to us is to learn to just be transparent with this God who works that change in us. And you’ll see over the next few weeks that when we go through these first four chapters of the book of Psalms, chapter 2, we’re going to discuss what it means to find victory in the Lord. Chapter 3, handling feelings of being overwhelmed. Chapter 4, we’re going to talk about finding rest in adversity.
But chapter 1, where we’ll start today, is a wisdom section of the book of Psalms. It’s called a wisdom Psalm. And this Psalm really lays the foundation to what makes all the other Psalms relevant to our lives. It presents to us how to experience a thriving life that blesses others and this Psalm, or many of the Psalms, I should say, are written by King David. David wrote about half the Psalms. What’s interesting about these Psalms in Israel’s history is that these Psalms take hundreds of years to be written. Moses wrote one of the Psalms, David writes one of the Psalms, almost a 500 year gap between the two. And David wasn’t the last author for the Psalms.
But this first Psalm, I think, is intentional in being represented at the beginning of this book because it lays the wisdom for our lives to be given over to the Lord so that the Lord can communicate his truth in us and transform the heart of people. Your heart and mind. It’s why we should be here this morning, right? God, to know you, to give this life for you, God, allow you to have your way in me.
If you’re familiar with Psalm 1 at all, many people, if they memorize chapters of the Psalm or verses from the Psalms, chapter 1, verses 2 and 3 are probably some of the more popular ones in the book of Psalms. There are several good ones, but people that tend to memorize anything from this Psalm, these few verses they memorize.
It says, and talking about us, “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water and whatever he does, he prospers.”
You read these words out of the Psalm and some people conclude that Psalm 1 is about God’s word, and it is. But I would say that the motivation behind Psalm 1 isn’t primarily focused about God’s word or focused upon God’s word, what it is is recognizing God’s word as the tool towards what God is driving for in your life. I think it’s important to be Bible centric, right? The only reason that you have to determine, when we walk out of here today, if what I said was crazy or what I’ve said is true, is to look at God’s word and see what God’s word says. But what I don’t want to get to is just simply Bible worship in the sense that we just end there. But to understand that as receive this text, it’s not about just knowing this text, but letting God’s word transform our lives through the text.
Psalm 1, beautiful words about God’s word, but the intentions behind it aren’t simply just to end there, but to see the bigger picture. A thriving life that blesses others in Christ. So let me just read these first few verses. I’m going to read the first three verses of this Psalm and discuss this with us to see the significance of what the author is talking about and why this is wisdom literature.
But it says this, “How blessed is the man,” or woman, “who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. And whatever he does, he prospers.”
First three verses, I think it’s easy for us to recognize that the author is contrasting two people. One who walks with the Lord, and one who walks with the world. And the point is that God creates you to thrive and be blessed in him. This is what God’s desire is. You see, as it starts to unfold it, it contrasts in verse 1 this person living a worldly life, verse 2 inviting us to live a godly life, and verse 3 it describes what that godly life looks like and the way that it blesses lives around them.
Psalm 1 for us really is a place of discussing ministry, to evaluate ministry. It’s recognizing that the things that we do for others really is ministry. I think this is important because everyone in this room has a ministry, godly or not. We all have a ministry because we all administer something. And ministry isn’t just a word that we use on Sunday morning or what you do when you come to church, right? You minister every day. Some minister toxic waste. And some minister amazing grace. We’re in Psalms, so I got to rhyme.
You will minister something in your life. And you will minister something to someone. What you administer is based on what you admire. You will honor the lords of your life, where your heart belongs provides the basis for what you will produce. Jesus said it like this, “Where your heart is, there your treasure will be.” Your ministry or what you administer is your ministry, I should say. And what you administer is based on what you admire. You will minister in this world, it’s just a matter of what your heart belongs to that will determine what you administer.
Which is why in this Psalm, in the first three verses, the author is really only laying two options for us. The identity of verse 1, the person that walks, stands, or sits in the way of sinners. Or, verse 2, the person that finds his way in the Lord. Where you find nourishment will determine the type of fruit you produce and administer in this world. Psalm 1 being a wisdom Psalm, before walking through any of the other texts found in the 150 chapters of this book, the author just wants our heart to pause in these moments and reflect in our own lives, what rests within us? Where does our heart belong?
And so, in verse 1, he describes the life of the individual that needs to take account in the direction he’s going as to where that life is leading him. Because what he admires, he will administer. How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. It’s sort of this picture in life that, you know, every advertisement in this world that you experience is intended to entice you. Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life. As you’re going about your day, it sort of calls to you while you’re walking along, “Hey, walk over here! You need this!” The temptations. When that temptation breeds into our own heart by something that we’re enticing, it lures us in and before long we find ourselves walking with it.
And that’s the picture of this Psalm. First you start walking with it because you’re in the middle of the business of your day, going about yourself. And then all of a sudden, no longer are you walking, but the conversation gets a little more intense, so guys, we can’t do two things at once here, so you got to stop. Now you’re standing. Identifying with it, this is your club. And then finally, it says in the last half of this verse, that you sit here. This is where you plant your flag. This has become your identity.
And I like how this Psalm, it’s not real personal in the sense that it’s not written in the first person, saying, “You do this and you do this and you do this.” But rather, it’s written in the third person. It helps us not to be so defensive as we reflect on our life. No one likes to be spoken to like, “This is you, guys! Do you know what you do?” But rather, “Hey, there’s this person and where his heart goes becomes important. Blessed is that man or woman who doesn’t allow themselves to be identified this way. But they see the beauty of the soul created in the Lord.”
And rather than plant their flag here, this is who they become in verse 2. It says to us in verse 2, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in the law he meditates both day and night.” This word for delight means desire. It’s literally what I was saying to you the beginning, it’s admire. This delight and this admire, this desiring. What you admire you will administer and that is your ministry, right?
And so his delight, his admiration belongs to the Lord. He delights in this both day and night, he allows this to become a part of his life, his identity. This is where he plants his flag. I’d like to say this morning, there’s probably a thousand things you could have done, like get an extra hour of sleep. But instead, you choose to delight.
The Psalmist goes on from here and doesn’t just describe it as delighting, but he says we meditate both day and night. And this idea of meditating, it’s a little bit odd. It reminds me of Bible college days, but it means to mutter and to read with an undertone. I always used to feel weird when I walked around, if you’re a part of what I’m about to describe, this is your verse that alleviates you, but oftentimes when I walk around I talk to myself. To the point where my wife will always say, “Who are you talking to?” “I am meditating in the Lord,” right? So you just repeat these things out loud.
But the beauty of understanding scripture in the Bible, it tells us to study and to know and to show yourself approved, but the Bible doesn’t want you just to have the intellectual knowledge of just getting the trivia right. It wants you to become what the text speaks of. So not just know it, but for it to be you, a part of who you are. And the way that the Psalmist describes that this happens and as it relates to us in wisdom is that you go through God’s word, it’s not just about saying, “Hey, I get to cross off my Bible reading plan for the week because I read through the entire book of John on schedule. All right!” And you get the check box, but it’s to stop at the end of that book and say, now what did you learn? What did you take from it? How did God speak to your heart?
God’s word is intended to be in you to transform you. I love when the Bible talks about knowing his word, because I think it’s most favorite word to describe it is meditate, to mutter, to speak that truth into your own life as you walk around through your own day. Really, you preach your sermon. Let it saturate in your soul. Because what you find in verse 1 is that there are individuals that call you to walk with them in the world. It describes them as wicked and then it says, “Stand in the way of the sinners.” So not only is the wickedness calling you, but if the heart leans into it, soon you find yourself sitting with it. And then all of a sudden, in that last part of the verse, you’re sitting with scoffers, where you start mocking people that don’t belong to you because you found your identity in them.
But rather, meditate on God’s word. These first two verses really don’t give us a third option in life, but one of the things I find these two verses to us is it really helps us understand what the advice of just follow your heart isn’t always that great. I know in our culture today, we like to say that as a popular phrase, “Just follow your heart, whatever makes you happy.” And I certainly think that God does care about your happiness and where you delight. In fact, he’s talking about delight in these passages. And God created you as an emotional being, it’s a part of who you are. But when you look at verses like this, it reminds us of why following your heart isn’t such a great statement to make because it doesn’t necessitate that what’s leading the heart is good.
And truthfully, be honest to say the heart was never designed to lead. Your heart was designed to be led. And the reason your heart’s designed to be led is because you’re a worship being. What you admire you will administer. And before you tell anyone that they need to follow your heart, what you need to find is what’s leading that heart. Because what’s leading that heart may not be good. But if we can delight in what is good and allow that to lead our heart, then following that heart’s desire becomes a beautiful thing. But just to start with the heart can lead to despair.
And so these verses are just laying out that position before us so that it awakens within our soul the significance of being intentional about the steps we take forward. Don’t let life happen to you, happen to it. God called you to be a light. And the way that light makes a difference is for it to saturate itself in the goodness of who this God is. That as that heart is led by the Lord, it would magnify his glory in this world and bless the lives of people around us.
In fact, that’s where he goes in verse 3. Listen to what he says, he says, “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season. And its leaf does not wither. Whatever he does, he prospers.” Now when we plant a tree today, we have no idea necessarily what its future holds. We can kind of determine from the soil around it and certain elements of which we’ve exposed the tree to. Maybe the type of tree in which you planted in the area that you live in. But it doesn’t always determine that that tree is going to turn out exactly, we don’t always know what rests in the soil. There may be something that just robs that tree. Our hope is that it flourishes.
But here in this section of scripture, when it talks about our relationship to the Lord, this tree described in this section is beautiful, it’s healthy, it’s never out of season. To those of you sick of winter, I think we just had third winter yesterday, right? This should be a very inspiring verse. Sometimes I just get tired of looking out my backyard and seeing a tree with no leaves. I long for the spring, to see the life. There’s just something in your soul that’s just like, “Ah.” I mean, I like winter, for –
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So the author leaves our hearts to determine in our own life, who are we? What do we love? Are we attached to the root and producing fruit or are we chaff? Verse 5 tells you, God’s desire for you is to stand before him. When you read these Psalms, this book of Psalms, you’ll see that the author always contrasts … the authors, I should say, of Psalms tends to contrast life between two people, wicked or the righteous. Two choices with our life, there is no place of indifference, but where it describes in verse 6 is that God knows. God knows the path of the righteous, God knows where your heart is. God knows.
And so as you think about these Psalms and the wisdom that should rest in our heart, we all have a ministry. Every one of us in this room, it’s not just on a Sunday morning, but every day you minister something. And what you minister is demonstrated by the way you care for souls, because that is the fruit that you bring forth in this life. Every one of us has a ministry, because we all administer something. The question is, what comes out? Fruit that never ends or chaff? The place where you root yourself will determine the fruit that you provide in life. Jesus or scoffers, do you multiply or do you blow away?
If we were to split our room right now, and by asking the question, you don’t have to raise your hand to this, but how many of us think that we’re righteous? How many of us would label ourselves wicked? Usually, if you come to church, the tendency in our own heart is like, you know, I came to church, so today, if I get to identify with a group, right? I’m going with the righteous group, ’cause I did my check box thing for the day. I’m a part of that club today.
But sometimes I think we can fool ourselves into thinking that we’re a fruit tree. I think sometimes we can walk into a room and we’re like, “Okay, where is the fruit?” And we grab a stick and we stick a stick in the fruit and we’re like, “Okay, see, I’m a fruit tree.” And that’s what religion does. They come to you with the assignment. Here’s your assignment. Do your deed, so you can hold this before God. Take your stick, now jam your apple in the end of it and tell God, “Look! I’m a fruit tree, God! Aren’t you happy with me?”
But then there are the real trees that naturally produce fruit. Not because their focus is the fruit, but their focus is the root. So when you look at what you minister in life, the point of looking at what you minister in life isn’t to guilt you over doing better at ministering things in life. The point is for you to see the goodness of Jesus. You don’t have to stress about the fruit. What God calls your heart to do is belong to him.
Your heart is intended to be led. Jesus cares about that heart and no one will lead it better than Christ. See, when you read a Psalm like this, it can be very polarizing in just saying there is bad people and there is good people. But the truth is, guys, oftentimes, we’re both in the same day. We can be both in the same minute. My heart wars against the goodness of who that God is. And I can come before God into my mistakes and try appeal to him with the stick of an apple. Or I can just come to the goodness of who he is and allow myself to be saturated in the goodness of his root. And allow his fruit to be born through me.
All of it rests in where I lean my heart. Whether I die to self or live for self, whether I give it to God or not. See, when you come to a passage like this, the beauty in this passage is to recognize the importance of God’s word, right? You meditate on it day and night. You mutter it, you preach that sermon to yourself, you don’t let its truths go away. You hide it in your heart. You don’t just know it, but you allow it to become who you are. Every day, even today, when you lose an hour of sleep, you have that opportunity. Why? To become a Bible worshiper? No. This is a tool. It’s a beautiful tool, it’s God’s special revelation to us. But the result of this tool should see a life flourishing and thriving in Jesus. To allow your heart to be led where it’s created to belong, because you are a worship being and God made you for your worship to belong to him. Where is your fruit?
God, plant me in your word, that I may flourish every day. As we come to a Psalm like this, it’s good for the soul to rest there. Because when we come to a place like this, we could walk in guilt, but I want you to know when you walk out today, that’s not where God wants your heart. He wants it renewed in his grace. Forgiven and freed in him.
The beauty is, you see the rest of scripture unfold, is that the Psalmist is continuing to point people to God’s word because the promise of the Messiah was about to come. In fact, we’re going to see in Psalm 2, it is all about the Messiah. He wanted their hearts to look for this God that would deliver grace to them. And now when you see the totality of scripture, you see the goodness of this God who has come for you. So you don’t have to pretend to be a stick, but you can be a tree. Not worried about trying to look good all the time. But rather focused on the root.
And the Bible makes it so simple for us, that Jesus came, Jesus died for you because he knows every day your heart is going to wrestle and struggle and sin, but Jesus desires for you to be free in him. And then contrasting these two ideas, is for all of us that wrestle between these worlds that we live in, the kingdom of heaven or the things of this world and to say to God, “God, I belong to you. God, renew me in you. God, you are so good. And God, I need a new heart. And God, in the newness of my heart that’s been freed in you, Lord, every day, Lord, allow my heart to speak these truths into my life that I can just be rooted in the goodness of who you are. And that through a life that thrives in you, that never withers, that never fades, that leaves never fall, others will be blessed too, because you called me to glorify you in this world.”
This message has been brought to you by Alpine Bible Church in Lehi, Utah. If you’d like more information, please visit us online at alpinebible.com.