Grace Community Church COVID Guidelines- UPDATED !


The Blessed Life - Psalm 1

June 26, 2021 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Summer in the Psalms

Topic: Blessed Passage: Psalm 1

Summer in the Psalms

Allen Snapp

Grace Community Church

June 27, 2021


The Blessed Life

Let’s turn together to Psalm 1 as we kick off a series called Summer in the Psalms.

Music has power. Have you ever had a song stir up deep emotions in you? A song can having us feeling good, a song can have us in tears. I’ve had songs transport me back to my high school days (and yes, in case our younger members are wondering, they had invented music by then). Songs can elicit memories. Who hasn’t had a song transport them back in time? Certain musical notes have the power to break glass, not by outside brute force, but by working within the glass. All glass has a natural resonance, a frequency at which it will vibrate easily. I think the same is true of our hearts.

A couple weeks ago as I was working I had music streaming on YouTube, and an instrumental came on that I had never heard before, but as I worked I slowly became aware that this song was resonating with my heart. It was just piano and violin and it was haunting and I found it was stirring a sad melancholy in my heart, but I didn’t know why. In that moment the song’s haunting melody was resonating on the same frequency as my heart.

I clicked over to YouTube to find out more and smiled when I saw the name of the song. It was a composition by Max Richter called Mercy. That seemed appropriate because mercy always resonates in my heart cause I always need it.

The Psalms are songs - songs about God, about mankind, about life. And because the psalms span the spectrum of human emotions from faith to doubt to joy to despair, from praising God to questioning God, they resonate in our hearts.

When the psalmist cries out, “Where are you God, have you forgotten me?” there will be times when our hearts resonate deeply with that. There will be days when psalms that sing of the faithfulness and righteousness of God reaching to the heavens, will pluck strings of joy and gratefulness in our hearts. And still other days when the frequency of our hearts are set to discouragement, and we will say with the psalmist, why so downcast o my soul? Put your hope in God!

The psalms are raw and honest covering the range of human experience and emotion and then connect all of that to God. The psalms are a blessed place to park our hearts.

Let’s begin this series with Psalm 1 because it’s the introduction to all the Psalms.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.Psalm 1:1-6

The first note of the first psalm strikes a note that should resonate with every single one of us. Blessed is

the manMan representing all people, but on an individual basis. There is no group plan for a blessed life. The meaning of the Hebrew word “blessed” has layers of meaning and all of them resonate with the deepest longings of our heart.

Blessed refers to having the favor of God on our lives and it means to be happy in the deepest, most meaningful way that a person can experience happiness in life.

That one word, blessed, embodies on the deepest level all that we want our lives to be.

One more important characteristic of “blessed” is that it doesn’t see life as a bunch of snapshots. It sees life with a panoramic view. It isn’t obsessed with the here and now. It sees life as a whole. Remember that, we’ll come back to it in a few minutes.

So how do we get our lives to blessed? Psalm 1 gives us a roadmap and it starts by telling us where not to go.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; vs 1

Notice that the focus of this verse isn’t so much what we do or don’t do. The psalmist could have written, dont be wicked, dont sin, dont be a scoffer but that’s not his focus. His focus is about what influences our lives. What shapes our lives.

The road to the unblessed life usually doesn’t begin with big, evil leaps. It starts out with small steps in the wrong direction. So be careful what influences you.

There is a downward progression in verse one. It starts with walking in the counsel of the ungodly. The word translated “wicked” actually means the ungodly and refers to unbelievers. Those who aren’t in covenant with God. It’s not just referring to wicked people, it’s referring to that nice person, that friend, that helpful sounding philosophy, that trendy ideology that seems harmless, even good, but leaves God out of the picture.

The next step is to stand with the sinner. Standing is a more settled position than walking, and sinner a little more intense description of someone who is ignorantly or intentionally disobeying God. From someone who leaves God out of the picture to someone who defies God to someone who openly mocks and ridicules God. That’s what a scoffer is. On the journey to an unblessed life, scoffing is the last stop. Scoffers are arrogant and cruel. They belittle those who don’t agree with them. They mock God. The religious leaders were scoffers as they mocked Jesus as he hung on the cross. Scoffers hate God and want you to hate Him too.

To sit in the seat of scoffers means to collude with them. This unblessed influence will gradually put us in collusion with arrogant scoffers if we head down that road. The psalmist says don’t head down that road. Be careful what you allow to influence you.

The blessed person is influenced by God’s word. Verse 2: but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Vs 2

The influence is an influence of delight. It doesn’t say, his knowledge comes from the law of the Lord, it says his delight comes from the law of the Lord (law means instruction). Knowing God’s word isn’t the goal, loving God’s word is the goal.

We can fill our heads with the Bible, and we can study theology and doctrine – and it’s good for us to do so – but God’s purpose for all of that is to stir our affections for God. Theology is only good if it leads to a deeper love and delight in God and who He is!

When we sit down to read the Bible, we should read it not just to connect with our heads, but also to connect with our hearts. We delight in the wisdom contained in this book. We delight in the insight into human nature contained in this book. We delight in the greatness of God and the smallness of man revealed in this book. We delight in God’s loving plan of salvation unfolded from Genesis to Revelation. Delight means that we ponder it with our minds, and love it with our hearts!

As we delight in God’s word, our lives flourish!

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

The psalmist uses the simile of a tree planted by streams of water to paint the picture of a blessed life: as our roots go deep into the water of God’s word, our lives flourish and bear fruit. The blessed life isn’t about what we get, it’s about who we are and what we give.

Notice it says our lives will yield fruit in its season. Life comes in seasons and some seasons will be more fruitful than others. Sometimes we may not see much fruit at all. We may be in a season of pruning. Instead of us growing and increasing and pushing out fruit, God says, I’m going to cut you back, I’m going to reduce you, to help keep you healthier and more fruitful when its season comes.

Another season that life brings are hard seasons. Seasons of drought. It occurred to me as I was thinking about this, that over the years I have often had believers say, “I’m going through a dry time.” Usually the implication is that something is wrong. Maybe there is, but maybe there isn’t. It might just be God allowing us to go through a season of drought. Either way, the answer is to put the roots down deep into God’s word. As the water of God’s word nourishes our souls, our leaf will not wither. They may get distressed a bit, but they won’t wither.

We recently had the roof on our home soft washed, where they use essentially a bleach wash to kill the lichen and mold on the shingles. A few days later, a tree on one of the corners of our home, right near where the gutter spilled out the bleach solution, was almost completely dried up and looked like it was dying. I’d estimate over 80% of its leaves were dry and shriveled up. I didn’t think the tree was going to make it but I set up the sprinkler and watered it heavily hoping it might survive.

It more than survived! It has thrived. I was amazed to see that now more than 80% of its leaves have completely rebounded! That’s our life when our roots go deep into God’s word – and that means we love God’s truth, obey God’s truth, treasure God’s truth! Hard times will come, droughts will come, but we will make it. More than make it, we will flourish! What we do will bear fruit – it will prosper.

Prosper doesn’t mean make a million bucks. It means a different kind of success than can be measured by bank accounts and job descriptions and material assets. Our lives will succeed – which is far more valuable than our bank accounts succeeding but our lives failing.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Vv. 4-6

Remember that blessed isn’t a snapshot of life, it’s the panorama view of life.

Snapshots can be deceptive. Someone’s life looks amazing - today. Someone else’s looks terrible - today.

One of the happiest things about blessed is that it understands that the clearest measurement of a person’s life comes at the end of that life. The Hebrew have a word for it: the achorit, the final ending. Panorama.

Those who reject God and His ways come to nothing. They are chaff – their lives empty husks blown away by the wind. On the way to this acharit they may become rich, famous, they might sell books or get their own TV show, they might become world-renowned influencers, they may build fortune 500 companies, they may build empires. And we look at the snapshot of all of that and say “wow!”

But when the panoramic view is seen, when the acharit is seen, we will say, “wow”.

This is everywhere but by way of illustration, I think of Jeffrey Epstein. Snapshots of most of his life looked incredibly successful. Rich, powerful, well-connected, influential. That’s about 60 years of snapshots.

But the panorama view reveals his life was disgraced, exposed as a wicked man who died a lonely (or not so lonely) death in prison. His memory is a blot, his name a name no one wants to be associated with. The Bible wraps all this in one word: to be ashamed.

His 66 years on this earth are over. Eternity is just beginning. He will not stand in judgment. His was not a blessed life…ever.

When our delight is in God’s word, we don’t have to be fooled until its too late. We can read the road map and choose the blessed road while there’s still time. What a treasure!

for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Vs. 6

Problem: Psalm 14 and 53 tell us there is no one righteous, none who do good. The Lord knows the way

of the righteous, but according to other psalms we are all on the way of the wicked and will perish.

The Lord knows the way of the righteous, and by His grace we do too. Jesus said “I am the Way…” He is our way of righteousness. As the psalmist delighted in the law of the Lord, he read about Abraham who “believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness”. (Gen 15:6)

The Bible tells us that the “just shall live by faith” (Habbakuk 2:4). And Paul says in Phil 3 that he has traded in his man-made righteousness of keeping the law for therighteousness that comes from God through faith in Christ.

As the old hymn says, I love to tell the story, ’Twill be my theme in glory To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love. I pray that the truths of Psalm 1 resonate in our hearts, that the frequency of this beautiful psalm resonates with the frequency our hearts are tuned to and stirs faith, love, hope, and joy in us. Let’s tune our hearts to God and His word. We will be blessed if we do.

More in Summer in the Psalms

July 31, 2021

Teach Us to Number Our Days (Ps 90)

July 25, 2021

Thirsting for God (Psalm 42)

July 18, 2021

The Paradigm of Praise (Psalm 145)