At the very outset of the Tehillim, or the Book of Psalms, in Psalm 1, we are given a description of the truly blessed man. The very first word literally means ‘the happinesses of’ implying that such a person has abundance of happiness. Happiness is in short supply in this world of sorrow and pain. But every normal person seeks to attain it any way he can. GOD in His kindness, not only shows us where it cannot be found; but where it truly resides. It is GOD’s wish that every one of us should be truly happy; so He very kindly shows us the Way. Let us look then at what He says to us here.
Negatively, the truly blessed man does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He rejects ungodly guidelines and agendas. Nor does he stand in the path of sinners, that is to say, he avoids the haunts of sinners. By sinners, the Bible means all those who walk or live in opposition to GOD. A good example of what it means to walk in the ways of GOD is the servant of Abraham, whom his master sent on an errand. In Genesis 24, verse 27, he says:
Blessed be the LORD GOD of my master, Abraham. As for me, being on the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren. In other words, his obedience to GOD was rewarded, and so will our’s if we too, walk in GOD’s ways. But that means that we are not to stand in the path of sinners. Thirdly, the truly blessed man does not sit in the seat of the scornful. He is not to be found resorting to those who scorn GOD. Abraham had a nephew who was a righteous man, who nevertheless, looked for happiness in the wrong places. We read of him sitting in the gate of Sodom with the rulers of that ungodly city. The upshot of it all was that he lost his honour, his possessions and his wife, and ended an unhappy and destitute man. There is a threefold deterioration described in this first verse: the approach toward that which is evil; the abiding in its presence that breeds an easy familiarity with it; and finally, the acceptance of it. Warnings abound in the Word of GOD, such as Exodus, Chapter 34, verses 12 through 16:
Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going. For you shall worship no other god, for the LORDWhose Name is Jealous, is a jealous GOD.
So much for the negative; what the truly blessed man will shun because of the irreparable harm it will cause him. We now come to the positive, and again, the Word of GOD is very specific. The attitude and the action go together. In verse 2:
But his delight is in the Law of the LORD, and in His Law, he meditates day and night. The word for ‘Law’ is ‘Torah’, or ‘teaching’. It comprises the whole of the Tanakh; ‘Torah, Neviim, Khethuvim’ - ‘Law, prophets, and writings’. Today there are thirty-nine books in the Tanakh, and not one of them is superfluous. The truly blessed man recognizes this fact, and delights in all of them. Psalm 37, verses 30 and 31: The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. The Law of his GOD is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. Not only does he relish the Promises; he also seeks to honour and to follow the precepts in the Tanakh.
When Joshua was about to lead our people into the Land of Promise, GOD gave him explicit instructions on this very point. Joshua, Chapter 1, verse 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. You and I can only do so when our delight is real, because of our natural tendency to think much of what we love. The outcome is given to us in verse 3 of this Psalm:
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper. First of all, he is compared to a tree. Trees take time to grow; but are solid and abiding. He is planted, or more literally, transplanted, by the rivers of water. No longer is he sterile, but brings forth seasonable fruit to nourish others, as he himself is nourished by the life-giving waters of the Word of GOD.
A tree does not produce fruit for its own use; but for the benefit of others. So likewise, the truly blessed man is a blessing to others. We read of him, that he is like a tree whose leaf shall not wither. He never fails to be a help to others, and never wastes away. Psalm 92, verse 12:
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Whatever he does shall prosper, for the very reason that the source and the guide of all his actions is the Tanakh, the pure Word of GOD. He finds in his experience that,
All things work together for good to those who love GOD, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Such is the truly blessed man. The requirements are very simple. The tragedy is that so few try them. Hopefully, some of you have! Shalom.