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.
This man is happy. Why? Simply because of what makes him the happiest…the “law of the Lord.” Those who rest in the will of God are among the happiest of all because they are not driven by the winds and waves of circumstance. In a culture, and “Christian” sub-culture, that so often sees blessings and curses as some karma-driven experience, it’s imperative for the true believer to rest in the sovereign, and good, hand of God.
Men grow weary of waiting, so they seek the counsel of men. What if Job had really listened to all of his friends? It’s not hard to sin or sit down with those who scoff God’s control. It’s easy. That’s why, in the end, the man of God is charged to remember again and again that his truest happiness will come with a constant delighting in the Word of God. He battles for this reminder by meditating (thinking about, memorizing, stirring up the emotions) on the Word day and night. That’s how precarious our delight is. We have to fight for this every minute of every day.
How’s your “wanter”?
My mom has regularly shared with my sisters and me, and now her grandchildren, that what needs changing in us is our “wanter.” It’s not a feeling, and yet it is. I’m tempted to just say it’s a decision, but in the end no one does what they don’t REALLY want to do. Even in the absence of passionate drive, to decide to do something is to see that desire win the moment. See, our daily discipline to be in the Word, meditating on it, is EXACTLY the kind of expression of delight and desire the Psalmist is referring to. The way we summons this kind of deep desire that drives our decision to be disciplined is by keeping the result in mind: the joy of being planted by the living waters.
There’s promise here.
If you were absolutely, positively guaranteed the deepest kind of contentment, happiness, and delight wouldn’t you want to know how to make that happen? Promises. God guarantees that the Word of God, meditated on regularly, will yield a prosperity of spirit that far exceeds circumstantial blessings. This is how those martyred for their faith can die terrible, horrible, deaths, yet be the happiest of all (Hebrews 11). This is how you can let goods and kindred go, giving away all that you have and be the happiest of all those who have it all. This is how you can have much, but hold on to it so loosely that you’re reminded of the pleasure of giving away more and more, finding much more delight in giving than acquiring.
But this isn’t just a moral.
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.
There is righteousness that God demands because His nature is perfectly, eternally, pure. No amount of meditation, or “missional” living, will cause God to delight in you for eternity. Your good works just can’t last and they don’t exist for good enough reasons. Those who are infinitely happy in an infinite God are made that way because the infinite God has made them infinitely righteous. This happens only as a result of Christ’s righteous nature and (finished) work being given to sinful men. This is the exchange that happens in the faith of a sinner in a loving Savior. Only those with whom God is pleased will be happy in God for eternity. He’s happy in those who have His son.
See, there is wickedness and horror and terror. Just a daily reading of your news feeds make that plain. Yet the greatest atrocities do not compare to the eternal judgment of those who end this life pursuing delight in something other than God.
So, do you delight in God’s laws? Do you rejoice that the Law itself shows you to be wanting and lacking in righteousness? Are you glad to know that the Word of God shows you to be a sinner because it reveals that there is a great Savior for your great sin? The Word shows us the promise that if we simply trust God to be our righteousness (in and through Christ) we will find our greatest delight, happiness, in Him regardless of our present circumstances.
Christian, verse 6a is a great word that God has not forgotten you. He knows you, your name, your address because you have His son dwelling in you through the Holy Spirit. Regardless of your circumstances, show the delight of His righteousness by delighting in His Word and helping others find their delight in His Word.
Seeker, verse 6b is a warning to awaken you. Are you working really, really hard to do good things, thinking that surely God will notice that you’re a pretty good person? Scripture (Romans 3) makes plain that even our good works are not “good enough” because the desire in our doing them is to try and earn His favor. Why, then, did Jesus die? Was it merely an example? Was it just to save you from some bad “stuff” you’ve done? What was completed when he said, “It is finished!”? Jesus died because sinners deserve death, and those who trust that Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection accomplished everything God rightly requires, but in your place, will be saved. Listen to the warning. What you’re doing just isn’t enough. Only Christ is enough. Admit that your sinner. Believe upon Christ as God in the flesh, who lived a life you could never live (sinless) and died a death you deserve (because of sin) and that His resurrection is true (He is all you need because He still lives).
This is how you will be planted by streams of living water, enabled to delight in His Word regardless of your circumstances. In this way, you are guaranteed to prosper, for you will never NOT have what you want the most…HIM.