1. This morningís message is an outgrowth of my personal devotional life. Itís what preachers call overflow, a message that has come about solely as a result of my personal walk with the Lord and not any attempt to go find a sermon in the Bible to preach to you. Please turn to Psalm 1.
2. For most of my Christian life I have read the Bible through each year, and I heartily commend it to each and every one of you. As well, you should study the Word of God. But perhaps more important than either of these two activities is that of meditating upon Godís Word.
3. How I wish that Iíd done more meditating on Godís Word over the years. But please do not confuse Biblical meditation with transcendental meditation or eastern meditation, which is much inferior. TM and the eastern approach to meditation begins with emptying yourself of all thought, which leaves what is essentially an intellectual and mental vacuum that can be filled by who knows what.
4. Biblical meditation, on the other hand, begins with Godís Word in your mind and in your thoughts, and from there you proceed to ruminate and chew on and suck out all the juice and nutrients God has for you in the verse, to feed your heart and soul with.
5. Psalm 119.11 is a verse that is oftentimes quoted by youngsters, and itís a good verse to memorize: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." But as I told the kids in chapel Thursday, memorizing Godís Word is not the same as hiding it in your heart. Memorizing Scripture verses is hiding them in your head. But meditating on them is a wonderful way of hiding Godís Word in your heart.
6. And itís as a result of my meditations on this portion of Scripture that it has come to be the message I bring to you today from Godís Word. Now, it may not bless your soul very much, but it surely has blessed my soul.
7. Letís stand and read this first of the Psalms in Book of Psalms the together. Psalm 1.1-6: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish."
8. Do you realize that justice to this entire psalm cannot be done in the time we have available to us? Therefore, I want to merely hit the high points, perhaps give you food for personal thought and meditation, and challenge you. Since the Psalms are actually some of Godís profoundest truths communicated to us in the form of poems, Iíve titled this message "Poetic Contrast."
9. Please notice that this psalm is divided into two parts, with the first part focusing on the righteous man and the second part focusing on the wicked man, basically contrasting the two distinct types of individuals. So, letís flow with structure of the psalm.
1A. First, THE RIGHTEOUS MAN (1-3)
He is labeled "Blessed" by David, for he is favored by God. This word "blessed" is plural, for he receives from God blessings without number.
I went to a preacherís meeting Monday night in Cathedral City, to a Church planted by one of my old classmates. As he stood in front of his preacher friends, recounting the many movings and miracles of God that took place in founding that new Church he erupted with this testimony: "You know, fellows, I just feel like Iím one of Godís favorites." And you know, if you are one of Godís children you certainly are one of His favorites. Every single Christian should know and understand that he or she is one of Godís favorites. You see, God wants your soul to be full of joy, and here are factors related to that kind of joy.
Letís take note of some things David tells us about the righteous man, this one who is one of Godís favorites.
1B. First, There Is His Conduct (1)
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."
There are three aspects of the righteous manís life touched on in this first verse, each of which important enough to spend an entire sermon dealing with. But notice that the righteous manís conduct is significant because of what he does not do.
1C. As to this manís walk, he does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. The word for ungodly here is the Hebrew word for unjust. So, the righteous man does not listen to the advice of that person who is without God in the world, that person who withholds from God the honor that is due Him.
2C. As to this manís stand, he does not stand in the way of sinners. Notice the progression of sin, with each of these three worsening in intensity, farther down in its expression of depravity. You start out with a bad walk and you come to the place where you take the wrong stand, the stand that misses the mark, the stand that is itself a transgression. The unsaved first counsel people do wrong so that they might justify their own evil deeds, but then they make it a way of life that they stand in. The righteous man, the blessed one, doesnít subject himself to that.
3C. As to this manís seat, he does not sit in the seat of the scornful. See how the unconverted slide? They may think they have slowed down and do not commit the rambunctious sins they committed in their younger days. But theyíve only gotten worse as they advance in age and wicked experience, moving from one who casually sins to being one who transgresses routinely, to finally taking the seat, that is the position of instruction. They postulate and pontificate their wicked philosophy and justify. They take on the role of senior statesmen of sin, advising and counseling those younger. The righteous man stays away from such people entirely, and enjoys life so much more. Ah, what you can tell by watching the way a person actually behaves, how he actually conducts himself. Amen?
2B. Next, There Is His Concern (2)
1C. His concern is declared: "But his delight is in the law of the LORD." The righteous man cares what God thinks, is concerned about Godís will for his life, seeks to please God. And the law of the LORD is his delight because in it is revealed the character and nature of his God, the demands and the standards of his God.
2C. And how is his concern displayed? Not by what he says, but by what he does: "and in his law doth he meditate day and night." He is eager to transfer the information thatís in his head, by a process of meditation and consideration and application and implementation, into rich nutrients for his heart and soul.
3C. Ever see a guy who truly loves peaches eat a perfectly ripe peach? Oh, what delight and enjoyment there is as he bites into the succulent fruit, as he slurps the juice into his mouth, as he slowly and deliciously chews that bite of the peach, letting the taste linger on his tongue and palate, before swallowing. Thatís what we have here. And that guy, I promise you, is one who does not miss a service in which Godís Word is preached, so he might know where on the branches the ripest fruit can be found.
3B. After His Conduct And His Concern Comes His Cultivation (3)
"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Pardon me for moving quickly.
1C. First, there is his planting. Like a tree planted by the rivers of water. He doesnít grow up wild. And the rivers of water speak of irrigation, not a naturally flowing stream. So, everything about him is the result of the unseen hand of Another.
2C. Next, there is his productivity. He brings forth fruit in his season. That is, he possesses the capacity to reproduce.
3C. Third, there is his protection. His leaf not withering means he is not exposed to the harsh winds of winter, the cold and dry time of spiritual barrenness. My friends, this guy is living in a veritable spiritual oasis of benefits and bounty.
4C. And whatever he does shall prosper. Not the material prosperity that is promised by the name it and claim it crowd, but the eternal dividends that accrue to the child of God who enjoys the blessings of God and who experiences that eternal life that comes only in Jesus Christ.
2A. Then There Are THE WICKED MEN (4-6)
The righteous man is described in singular terms, in verses 1-3. But beginning in verse 4 the ungodly are described using plurals nouns and pronouns. Most people do not get converted. For every righteous man there are many who are ungodly. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat," Matthew 7.13.
1B. Their Pronouncement (4)
"The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away."
1C. In the first phrase of this verse itís declared: "The ungodly are not so." In what way are the ungodly not so? In every way the ungodly are to be contrasted with the righteous.
2C. Notice how the wicked man is illustrated: "but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away." There is, to God, substance to the righteous, but no substance to the ungodly. The righteous is durable, with Godís protection, but without Godís protection there is no durability for the ungodly.
3C. With the harsh wind of Godís righteous judgment the ungodly, like the chaff, are driven away.
2B. Their Prospects (5)
"Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous."
1C. Their prospects for judgment are grim. There is coming a judgment day, Revelation 20.11-13. And to not stand in the judgment means you will not bear up under the judgment, you will not pass the judgment, you will be found guilty in the judgment.
2C. As for eternity, the final verdict is rendered in Revelation 20.15: "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
3B. Their Punishment (6)
1C. Consider the LORDís knowledge: "For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous." The Lord knows who are His. There will never be a mistake concerning who is His and who are not His, except the mistake that is made by those who are lost.
2C. Matthew 7.21-23: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
2C. The LORDís decree concludes this psalm: "but the way of the ungodly shall perish." God has decided that there are two ways, His way and the way of the ungodly. And they are divergent paths, leading away from each other. One road leads to heaven, and the other leads to destruction.
1. How great is this contrast drawn between the righteous and the wicked. How different are their lifestyles. How different are their loves. How different are their destinies.
2. The one is obviously and declared to be blessed. The other is just as obviously, though unstated, shown to be cursed.
3. Were I you I would memorize this psalm. Were I you I would meditate on this psalm. I would mull it over in my mind, chew on it the way cattle chew their cud, suck all the juice and nutrients out of it, and make full use of it in the living of your life.
4. In this psalm you see how the child of God is made to soar above the ungodly as an eagle soars high in the sky, and not by his own doing. He stands tall as a flourishing tree, while the unsaved are blown about below like dried leaves and husks separated from the grain with the blasting wind of Godís judgment.
5. Surely, to be righteous is to be preferred to being ungodly. Their deeds are different, their devotions are different, their destinies are different.
6. Now, before this morningís sermon, brother Isenberger comes to lead us as we sing.
1. In the time we have remaining this morning I want to speak to you who are not converted. I want to escort you on a consideration of your life.
2. Understand, please, before we progress, that most Christians are not really converted people and are not truly described by the first three verses of this psalm weíve been looking at. So, please do not evaluate according to pretense or presumption. Instead, please, consider Godís Word and the actual behavior of people.
3. And what people to consider this morning? Your behavior. Let us consider what God says in His Word, in this psalm penned by the inspired writer David, about your life.
1A. First, THERE IS THE PROGRESS OF YOUR SIN (1)
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."
Oh, the bounty that God rains down on His Own. How blessed we are who have come to Christ for forgiveness, for cleansing, for life, for adoption into Godís family. But notice how such a blessed one as this is in contrast to you. You are described using three words, according to the three levels through which you will descend over the course of your life, for however long God chooses to let you live.
1B. You Start Out As Ungodly
1C. And this word may perfectly describe you right now, especially if you are rather young. As mentioned before, this word "ungodly" refers to someone who is unjust. And it is as an unjust person you are born into this world; godless, ungodly, without God in the world.
2C. You are a person who does no good in your life. And how could you do good? You are lost and undone and estranged from God by the nature you were born with? About the only thing you have going for you is the fact that Christ died for the ungodly such as you, Romans 5.8.
3C. So, though you are lost, though you are headed for Hell, though you cannot in any way please God, though you are condemned because youíve not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God, you are a candidate for conversion because Jesus Christ died to save the ungodly.
2B. From Ungodly You Progress To Sinner
1C. Now you are the kind of person who not only does not do good, but you also do actual evil. You are now physically mature enough to engage in deeds youíd not even thought of before. And you are old enough to have the mobility and the opportunities denied to those here who are younger.
2C. So, it will be only a matter of time before you begin to actively step over the lines of prohibition drawn by God, before you will begin to add to that wickedness of your evil heart the outward transgressions that make you unmistakably a sinner.
3C. Now, you will think that as you become more experienced with sin you will outgrow your youthful inhibitions and lay aside the outmoded restrictions and values of your parents. Thatís what you will tell yourself. But what will actually be happening is that you are searing your conscience and hardening your heart and callusing your mind by the deeds that you are contemplating, or the deeds you will actually do.
4C. And then, if you are like most people, and most people are like most people, then you will stop committing certain sins. That will convince you that youíve settled down a bit, that you are better than you once where, that you are more mellow, that youíve even become somewhat spiritual.
3B. But Thatís Not What Has Happened At All. Youíve Just Become Scornful.
1C. David makes reference to the seat of the scornful. In his culture one would take a seat among all the others who sat and take upon himself the mantle of authority, presuming to speak as one who knows what he is talking about.
2C. Picture in your mind one who first walked through the gates of the city, who then stood at the gate of the city, and who now sits at the gate of the city. Thereís a progression in all this, as evil and wickedness becomes more and more thoroughly entrenched in the mind, and in the heart, and in the soul of the unrighteous man . . . making any possibility of conversion less and less likely over the passing of time.
3C. You are now, as a scorner, one who presumes to know much. From a word that means to mock and to deride, as a scorner you have a superior attitude toward the things of God, toward eternity. Where you might have been one who attended Church and even considered the claims of Christ in the past, you are now come to the point in your life that youíve decided that this stuff doesnít work.
4C. You may not outwardly do the things you used to do, but inwardly your heart is much more wicked and hardened than it has ever been. And it is as a scorner that youíll go to the grave.
2A. AFTER THE PROGRESS OF YOUR SIN COMES THE PRODUCT OF YOUR LIFE
Let us look quickly at the consequence of your time among men. What will you have done when all is finished? What mark will you have left? Verse 4 tells us: "The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away."
This is the sum of your life, my lost friend. Can you bear to live on this earth for however many years you will be here and leave no important marks behind?
1B. According To Godís Word, Yours Will Be A Life Of No Fruit.
Perhaps you will bear or sire children. But so what? What good have you done them to bring them into the world so they can die and go to Hell like you?
2B. According To Godís Word, Yours Will Be A Life Amounting Only To Chaff.
And what is chaff? Itís the husks and the hulls that are left over when that which is nutritional is removed, when that which is substantial is winnowed out.
3B. According To Godís Word You Are Ready For Judgment.
1C. Thatís what the wind speaks of here. You see, for a while the wheat and the tares grow together. For a while the chaff and the corn are stored together in the barn. But there comes a time when the two are separated.
2C. You are greatly blessed, right now, by being able to live amongst those of us who are Godís children. While we are all together you are safe and protected. But when the winnowing time comes, when the time of separation comes, you will be cast into the fire.
3C. Tossed up into the wind of Godís judgment, the grain, the righteous, will fall straight down into the basket and be escorted to heaven, while the chaff, while you, are blown by the wind into the fire.
4C. Thus, when itís all over, the product of your life will be utterly meaningless. In the grand scheme of things you will be a cipher, a zero, a speck of cosmic dust in Godís universe.
3A. BUT THATíS NOT ALL. THERE IS ALSO THE PUNISHMENT THAT AWAITS YOU (6)
David concludes this poetic contrast between the righteous and the wicked with these words: "the way of the ungodly shall perish."
Do you realize what this means, my friend?
1B. It Means That You Will Die
Everyone dies. But the amazing thing is how ill-prepared most people are to die. And you are not prepared to die. Not as prepared as you ought to be, as you can be.
2B. When You Die You Will Go To Hell
Hell is a terrible place. Itís a place of conscious, constant torment. Itís a place of regret and horror. Itís a place of punishment and preparation.
3B. I Say Preparation Because, After You Go To Hell You Will Be Judged
This is the Great White Throne judgment described in Revelation 20, where your sins are judged from Godís books, those records of each and every one of your sins, to determine the severity of the punishment of your eternal and undying soul.
4B. And Then You Will Be Cast Down Into The Lake Of Fire
Where the fire is not quenched and the worm dieth not.
1. Ah, what a contrast is drawn between the righteous and the wicked. What a difference there is between that one who is blessed and those multitudes who are cursed, between the saved one and you and your acquaintances who are unsaved.
2. How do you suppose the ungodly, the sinners, and the scorners pass through life without concerning themselves with eternity? I think itís because you donít think. The child of God, you see, meditates on these things all the time. But you think about playing, or making money, or some other silly or passing thing.
3. If you would hide Godís Word in your heart, if you would meditate on these things, if you would get alone and ponder and contemplate the progress of your sins, the product of your life, and the eventual punishment that awaits you, you might very well get converted.
4. How can you stand being nothing, leaving nothing, and heading toward a certain eternity in the lake of fire? Only by not thinking. Because if you thought about it at all you would likely flee the wrath to come and pursue Jesus Christ until you were safely in His arms.
5. Perhaps the Spirit of God has dealt with you about such matters already. Perhaps you are ready now to flee the wrath to come by casting yourself on the Savior. Perhaps you need only a word of encouragement to embrace the Savior. If thatís the case, let me encourage you now.