In our relativistic world it’s easy to forget that God sees things in “black and white.” He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16), and His holiness can have no part of sin (Hab. 1:13). God is a God of absolutes. With Him, there is such a thing as absolute truth (John 8:32), and all people will one day give account to Him for how they have spent their lives in light of that truth (Acts 17:30; 2 Cor. 5:10; John 12:48-49).
We all need to be reminded of the need to draw near to God and to live by, “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Living out God’s truth will cause a difference to be seen in us (Matt. 5:13-16). Consider the contrast of two individuals in Psalm 1 — the Righteous and the Ungodly man.
The Righteous Man:
Is known by his walk — “He walks not after the counsel of the ungodly.” The lifestyle of the righteous man is not open to reproach. He has a good name among his family, in the church and in the world (Prov. 22:1). He does not act according to ungodly influences, nor does he allow his decisions to be influenced merely by what is popular.
Is known by his stand — “He does not stand in the way of sinners.” Standing for God often means the righteous man will have to stand alone (Jeremiah 15:17). God’s servant is a person full of integrity and truth (Ps. 26:1). He makes God’s will known to the nations, and helps others to see the value of standing in God’s path (Rom. 10:15).
Is known by where he sits — “He does not sit in the seat of the scornful.” The righteous man is not a “Monday morning quarterback,” criticizing and second-guessing every action or inaction of God’s people. He does not view the Godly life as a spectator sport; rather, he is a possibility seeker. He is optimistic about the Lord’s work (Phil. 4:13), and he knows the value of fervent labor and involvement in the kingdom (1 Cor. 15:58).
Is known by his delight — “His delight is in the law of the Lord.” The servant of God realizes that he depends on God’s word for everything — for life, for guidance, for counsel and wisdom. As a result, he earnestly seeks the word of God as eagerly as he seeks physical food (Job. 23:12; Psalm 119:103; Psalm 63:1-3).
Is known by his thoughts — “In His law he meditates day and night.” A righteous life is not the result of unholy thoughts. The righteous man knows that what he puts into his heart will eventually be put into practice in his life (Prov. 4:23). As a result, he is careful to meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Phil. 4:8).
The Unrighteous Man:
Is known by his instability — “He is like the chaff which the wind drives away.” The ungodly man is ruled by the passions and circumstances of life. His primary objective is self-satisfaction and he will use any means necessary to achieve that objective. He follows good-looking philosophies and smooth-sounding ideas to his own destruction (Prov. 14:12). The unrighteous are as unstable as the seas, and as easily influenced as the chaff of wheat, driven by the wind.
Which of these characteristics describe you? Does the world see a difference because you belong to Christ? Does your family? Does the church? May we all be true seekers of righteousness so that we may stand in these days of uncertainty.
Psalm 1 is a rich passage contrasting a man who serves God and a man who serves himself. In this world of confusion and moral relativism, many seem to be doing what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). God’s servants, on the other hand, are bound by God’s word to do His will (1 Cor. 10:31). Consider the contrast in Psalm 1 concerning the separate fates of righteous and ungodly men:
The Blessings of the Righteous Man:
He shall be stable — “He shall be like a tree.” The psalmist declares that the righteous man who is marked by his service to God will enjoy stability in his life. When the storms of doubt and fear rage in this person’s life, the knowledge of God will give him sure footing (Psalm 122). His life will be blessed with a calm assurance, a peace passing understanding (Phil. 4:7).
He shall be nourished — “Planted by rivers of water.” A righteous man does not rest in the Lord’s service, but continues to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and loving service to others. God’s word provides the necessary nourishment for the spiritually famished (Job 23:12). Jesus said that whoever hungers and thirsts for righteousness will be filled (Matt. 5:6). His word nourishes the righteous (1 Tim. 4:6).
He shall be fruitful — “And shall bring forth fruit in its season.” In order to bear spiritual fruit, one must be attached to the True Vine (Jn. 15:1-8). Fruit can often be imitated, but genuine fruitfulness is evident in the lives and attitudes of those who truly love God (Jn. 14:15; Gal. 5:22-23).
He shall not grow weary — “His leaf shall not wither.” The righteous man lives a life of joyful exuberance in service to God (Eph. 3:20-21). Even in the valley of death’s shadow, the righteous man is confident in God’s abiding presence (Ps. 23:1-4). His is the abundant life offered only by Jesus (Jn. 10:10). He is an heir of the great salvation (Heb. 2:1-4).
He shall be successful — “Whatever he does shall prosper.” In a world that worships success, the righteous man is prospered by God. God uses the life of the righteous man to accomplish His divine will (Rom. 8:28), and in the process God blesses His servant as well (Eph. 1:3-14). Genuine prosperity is a blessing to be coveted.
The Fate of the Unrighteous Man:
He shall be judged — “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment.” God’s judgments are always right (Gen. 18:25), and His wrath will ultimately be poured out on the ungodly (2 Thess. 1:7-10). No amount of rationalization will spare the ungodly from the justice of Almighty God.
He shall be alone — “Nor shall he be in the congregation of the righteous.” In the service of God there is fellowship (1 Jn. 1:7), but the ungodly man knows true loneliness. Worldly minded people have little understanding of how deep and fulfilling Christian relationships can be. The ungodly man robs himself of the many blessings of fellowship.
He shall perish — “The way of the ungodly shall perish.” No amount of money, no degree of fame, no level of education can stave off death (Heb. 9:27). There is little occasion for joy at the funeral of the ungodly, but the righteous continues to be blessed even in the life to come (John 11:25). — JB