I once heard Billy Graham say in one of his crusade sermons (you can watch many of these on YouTube) that he had a habit of reading five psalms a day as part of his devotional life. I have personally been reading through the psalms at night since the summer and then reading in the New Testament (Mark, then 1 Peter, and then Ephesians – the Bible books for the blog) in the mornings. Reading from an Old Testament and a New Testament book each day can give you good structure and balance for a Bible reading plan. If you only read the Bible once a day, I would suggest reading through the Psalms, Proverbs, or one of the gospels on the days that you aren’t reading Ephesians.
Psalm 1 is a short, powerful message from God showing us how to walk in His ways all of our days. It poetically paints an image of the spiritually-blessed Christian pressing on along the path to heaven. The blessed man or woman avoids the evil counsel of the world, the company of those doing wrong, and especially those who openly mock and hate God. Instead, the godly Christian fills his or her mind with the truths and promises of Scripture by daily meditating on the Bible (“day and night” in verse 2, which means morning and evening). This person develops an authentic, deep relationship with God, so that he or she becomes like a firmly planted tree that bears spiritual fruit (like love, joy, peace, etc.) even in the middle of the painful trials of life (verse 3). “The Lord knows the way” of the humble Christian who walks with Him, which means that He watches over and protects him or her for all of this life and eternity.
By contrast, Psalm 1 warns us to beware of the broad road that leads to death. The way of death is marked by listening to the wisdom of the world and allowing the lies of Satan to shape our thoughts, then joining in with others in sinful words and actions, and finally settling into a position of cold-hearted unbelief and rejection of the Lord and His Word. This gradual descent into darkness starts small and can be unnoticed in the teenage years but it ultimately leads to an adult who abandons the Lord and His church in college and may never come back. These lost sinners become like the bad part of the wheat, the “chaff,” which after it has been threshed or separated from the good part is simply blown away by this world of sin and is finally burned in the fires of hell (verses 4-5; also see Matthew 3:12). This is a sobering message that God wants to use to drive us away from the path of death and onto the road to life.
The Text (Psalm 1)
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
3 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.
4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Questions to Think About
1. Are there any areas of life where ungodly, sinful ideas could be finding their way into your mind and heart? This could be through non-Christian friends, to which the counsel of God is to be careful who you hang out with. Consider carefully the warning Paul gives us in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good morals.” Are you spending most of your time with people who love Jesus or with people who don’t? The thoughts and attitudes of your friends will affect your thoughts and attitudes. Choose carefully – choose the friends of life!
2. The other area where sin can easily enter our hearts is through the videos and shows that we allow ourselves to watch and listen to. So many children, teenagers, and adults are sadly being led like dumb sheep along the road to death by the massive amounts of ungodly television, movies, music, and social media content that they consume each day and week. Blatant cursing (or “”cussing” to you Southerners), extreme acts of violence, and constant displays and references to sexual immorality are being portrayed so casually on the rectangular screens we never let go of that even professing Christians are no longer sensitive to any kind of sin at all. The heart-hardening effect of the modern sinful screen diet is so strong that by seventh grade and up, it has become almost impossible for students to get saved (note that I said “almost,” I do believe that with God all things are possible; the conversion odds today just get much longer after age 12). Of the 70-plus salvation experiences that we have seen in the middle school in the past nine months, almost all of them have happened when the students were in the sixth grade, and that was only after lots of prayer and constant strong preaching and teaching in homeroom devotions, the lunchroom, and special chapel services. If you are a slave to digital sin right now, I beg you to make a strong break from your device and call out to Jesus for deliverance! Start spending a lot of time in God’s Word and doing healthy, non-digital activities with Christian family and friends, and get help from Christian adults with starting a new life free of the evil influences that have been slowly destroying your relationship with God. It is matter of life and death. “For as he [a man or woman] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).