The Word and Good Company (Psalm 1)
By Pastor Mike
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do 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 leads to destruction.
After rededicating my life to Christ as a young man, I began to meet weekly with my father to talk about my (re)conversion and newfound faith. A significant reason for my journey away from Jesus in the first place had been a lack of Christian friends, and my father knew it. The first thing he did, the first time we got together, was to open up his Bible to Psalm 1 verses 1 and 2. He pointed out to me the progression away from God's ways that the "righteous person" avoids. He (or she) does not walk side by side with the wicked, they do not stop to stand on the sinful path, and they do not sit where people who mock God's ways would sit. There is a process here. One does not get sucked into wickedness all in one moment (though we are all born with a sinful nature). Walking along, we make a wrong turn. Having taken the wrong turn, we stop to take things in. Having stopped to soak up our ungodly surroundings, we settle in and make ourselves at home. And a key element here seems to be the company we keep: the wicked, sinners, and mockers. We become like those we spend time with. We become like those we look up to. In other words, our relationships matter.
In the same vein, the righteous person of Psalm 1 has a new delight. Verse 2 says she (or he) "delights" in God's law and thinks about it all the time. Here we don't want to think of "law" in negative terms, like legalism. The Law was God's Word to his people, Israel. The Law was God's gracious covenant. To meditate on and delight in God's law was to meditate on and delight in God himself, like one might read and reread a love letter or a note from a dear friend. Its not just the words, it's who wrote the words, and it's the relationship the words represent. In the same way for us today, as we turn away from ungodly influences, we are to fill that void with the words and truths of Scripture. As we get to know our Bibles, attend church, develop Christian friendships, and meditate upon the truth of the gospel, we find ourselves alive and refreshed "like a tree planted by streams of water" (verse 3).
None of this means, of course, that our conversion to Christ means we should abandon our unbelieving friends and family members. But it does mean we need to be thoughtful about who or what we allow to influence our thinking, and it reminds us of how important it is to develop new friendships among those who call upon the same Lord and Savior that we do.