# 45 Psalms of Wisdom (#3) Psalm 1 “Oh, the happiness, many times over…”
Before we move on from the wisdom of Psalm 1, let’s see if there is more that can help us to live well as followers of the King of Kings. The psalmist begins as Jesus did in the “Sermon on the Mount”:
“Blessed is the one…”
Blessed could be translated happy or even pleasing to God. Another definition is “the happy condition of those who revere the Lord and do his will.”
One rendering could be, “Oh, the happiness, many times over…”
So then the question is, what is the ‘secret’ to such blessedness or happiness? Well, according to the Psalmist, one relevant piece of information is that it involves when we don’t do certain things. And those things are:
“…not [to] walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.”
The NIV Study Bible suggests that the people described here are “those for whom evil is habitual, for whom wickedness is a way of life.”
So the Psalmist is saying that in order to experience this blessedness, this happiness from God, many times over, we need to live in a place of uncompromising purity in our life and relationships, i.e. choose our friends carefully!
Note the Psalmist’s use of poetry in describing this:
There is a progression here. At first one ‘walks’ or just checks things out casually concerning what these people believe and what they get up to.
Charles Swindoll suggests that these verses could be paraphrased as:
“Oh the happiness, many times over, of the one who does not even casually go through the motions or imitate the plan of life of those who live in ungodliness…” (see references # 32)
This then progresses (or maybe degenerates) to ‘stand’ -finding oneself more and more comfortable with this particular company of people and their precise way of life.
And finally ‘sit’ – permanently settling down into the way of thinking and way of life of those the Psalmist describes as those who continuously make light of that which is sacred – even to the point of blaspheming God, by their words or lifestyle or both.
“If we begin to walk in the counsel of the wicked,” says the Psalmist, “it is too easy to slip slowly into the habitation of the scornful…we shall be happy many times over if we maintain a pure walk, free from even the slightest flirtation with evil.”
These words reminded me of my first job. At the age of 18 I left school and began my training as a cartographic draftsman working in an office in the city. At that time I was not a follower of Jesus and had no idea that I ever would be one.
Amongst the staff there was a culture of having a drink at the local hotel after work on a Friday night. Now, to be honest, I had never really liked alcohol. It was most probably more a reaction to an abuse of alcohol with disastrous consequences amongst certain members of my family than anything else. But, not to go on a Friday after work and not to drink was not only to be unsociable with my workmates, whose approval I desperately desired, but it was also to stand against the norm, which I had no plan, or courage of my convictions to do. So I went. My drinking was purely ‘token’ and it remained something I didn’t have much heart for.
At the same time when this was happening there was another young draftsman, Colin (not his real name) about a year older than me who had been resisting, what appeared even to me as unnecessary pressure, to come and drink with the ‘boys’. His initial resistance was due to a conviction related to his Christian upbringing. So, for a very long time he refused. I didn’t understand him, but I admired him! The longer he refused though the more it became a bit of sport for the others to see if they could wear him down and get him to become like them.
After a year in the job I became a follower of Jesus and found a new freedom in Him. I no longer had to just go along with the crowd, pretend I liked alcohol and I no longer needed their approval. So, my times with them in the hotel slowly decreased and finally stopped. But Colin, in the meantime had sadly given in to their constant pressure to conform. Tragically, after some years he had actually developed a drinking problem. He had walked, stood and then he eventually sat down!
In the context of the day, for the average Jewish believer, a major temptation that came with walking-standing-sitting in the company of evil companions, in the way the Psalmist is describing, would have been idolatry and all its accompanying vices and therefore disobedience to the laws of God.
For us in the 21st Century, walking-standing-sitting in evil company in order to learn from them their evil ways could also lead us into idolatry and addictions of many forms. But, when you think about it, these days, with what is available to us through the many forms of media we have, e.g. TV, DVD, internet, smart phones, social media, etc. we don’t even have to be in the actual presence of a single person to walk-stand-sit with evil people, taking on board all the vices of our society. In so many ways the wisdom offered here in this Psalm is very applicable to us today. I know this from personal experience!
Proverbs has some good advice:
“The righteous choose their friends [and their programs and downloads] carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray…[so] Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.” (Proverbs 12:26, 4:23)
And in the words of Paul:
“For the free gift of eternal salvation is now being offered to everyone; and along with this gift comes the realization that God wants us to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures and to live good, God-fearing lives day after day, looking forward to that wonderful time we’ve been expecting, when his glory shall be seen—the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. He died under God’s judgment against our sins so that he could rescue us from constant falling into sin and make us his very own people, with cleansed hearts and real enthusiasm for doing kind things for others.” (Titus 2:11-14 Living Bible)
And, in the context of this subject, we shall look later at what it means to do “kind things for others”, particularly to those the psalmist says not to walk, stand and sit with.