When You Need a Song
Text: Psalm 1
Proposition: Understanding the way that the Psalms have been put together helps us see the way that God intends that we use them to speak to Him.
Introduction: Songs have a way of speaking to others and to God the thoughts that go deep. Lullabies, love songs, Anthems, even birthday songs that unite people. Songs are powerful. But greater than these are the songs that we use to speak to God, songs that express our faith, our theology and our love for God. Sometimes we need a song to say what other words can’t seem to reach. Perhaps that’s why God has chosen the largest portion of the Bible to be a song book, the Book of Psalms. In about 300 AD, Athanasius an early leader of the church once declared “The Psalms have a unique place in the Bible because most of the Scripture speaks to us, while the Psalms speak for us.”
The Book of Psalms was written over a vast period of time, some written about 1400 BC, others around 1000 BC and still others around 500BC. The various authors of these songs were Moses, David, Solomon, Asaph, the Sons of Korah, Ezra and others who remain unknown to us. There are also many Psalms that aren’t in the Book of Psalms, like Miriams song of deliverance after they crossed the Red Sea, Hannahs song as she thanked God for her son, Mary’s song as an expectant mother when she meets Elizabeth. There are many times when we will need a song, especially when as parents we begin to learn the weight of carrying lives younger than our own. Have a look at Psalm 1 with me.
I. “The Way of the One Who Is Straight With God.”
That’s what the word ‘Blessed’ means. It’s the word ‘esher’ which translates as being happy but the root word that it originates from is ‘ashar’. It means to be right or straight with God. To be blessed is to be happy because of being straight with God. If there’s anything that we long for in our husbands, wives and children it is that they would be straight with God. However as this Psalm begins the blessed child is described more by what he doesn’t do than by what he does. It says, “…who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” Guzik in his commentary says that the idea of ‘walk, stand, sit’ has the connotation of ‘thinking, behaving, belonging’. As parents you will spend countless hours on shaping the way your children think and behave. It seems some children are made of a character that is like clay, easy to shape and form. Then God gives you a child that seems to be more like loose dirt, the harder you compress it the more it just seems to fall apart. But greater than these two challenges of shaping their thinking and behaving is a more hidden one, it is like a magnet in their soul. It is about who and where they belong. Perhaps that might also describe the struggle of husbands and wives. Belonging is a description of how we fit together. But as you consider the weight of belonging in a marriage, belonging in a family, belonging on the playground or at the dance recital or hockey game, we know that the fit will almost always be either loose or cramped. Ultimately that is a whisper to us all that belonging has a higher relationship designed in us. We belong to God, it’s He who has made us and known us before we were ever conceived. Today, this day, 350,000 children will be born, 4 every second. Do you remember the way the book of Jeremiah starts, verse 4 says, ““Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” We belong to God in ways that are deeper than we know. When God declares that He is a Jealous God it’s a statement that He doesn’t want to have that which belongs to Him taken away, He doesn’t want to lose the ones He has made and loves like a Father. And it’s reciprocal, when we love Him and desire to be His it fills the void in our souls. That’s why to be blessed means to be straight with God.
The opposite is a loss of being blessed. If we think and behave in a way that fits more with the ungodly it will lead more and more into the way that the ungodly accomplish life. Eventually you will sit in the seat of the scoffer. He scoffs because in his eyes he is the one who is right, there is a way that seems right to him…but the end of it is the way of death.
Instead, the boy or girl, wife or husband, mother or father who is straight with God delights in the Word of God. They don’t just respect it or obey it, they don’t just know it or speak about it…they delight in it. When’s the last time that the Word of God delighted you, when you found yourself in awe of its wisdom, amazed by its design, intrigued by its plan, enthralled with its author. The person who is straight with God is blessed because of their delight in what God has to say. In a sense they can’t stop thinking about it, pondering it, turning it over and over like a precious jewel that reflects beauty at every angle. You think about it, you find yourself doing what it says, you begin to dwell on it and in a sense you meditate on it day and night. Maybe as parents you do that through the songs you sing to your children when they fall asleep, songs like ‘When He Cometh’.
Then comes this simile, a poetic comparison that says the person who is straight with God is like a tree that’s been planted by a flowing river. Notice that it’s been planted, it didn’t just happen to be there, it didn’t get there on its own steam, it was planted there, rooted there. As parents your hand is upon the soul of your child even as God’s hand rests upon the soul of the parent. It’s He who puts us where we can grow, He is the One who plants us by that river and He is the One who enjoys the beauty of what He plants. He puts us by rivers of water, by abundance, by what we need for life and sure enough life comes through us and even out of us. There is fruit, green growing leaves, strength and a real sense of being blessed. I hope that is how you feel here today, that you have a deep sense of being blessed as you seek to live a life that is straight with God.
II. The Way of the One Who Is ‘Not So’, Against God and His Design.
Again we see parallelism, the contrasting parallelism of the godly against the ungodly. The ungodly are the opposite, they aren’t well planted, they don’t see abundance, they don’t grow or mature in Christ, they don’t delight in God nor His word. They do progressively slip in sin, walking, standing and eventually sitting or finding a place of belonging in it. They are not and don’t want to be ‘straight with God.’ That’s what this Hebrew song does, it amplifies meaning through comparison and in this case it shines a light on what sin looks like. The simile here is that the ungodly are like ‘chaff’. The comparison is that like chaff they are blown around by the wind, separated from the wheat kernel by the smallest gust. The contrast in image is to that of a tree well planted withstanding storms but the chaff is lifted away by a light breeze. Chaff has no ability to grow or bring forth life or bear fruit. Its only capability is to blown about by every wind that comes along. The chaff lacks substance, that substance was the grain of wheat that it used to be attached to. The substance in all cases is the person of Jesus Christ, His righteousness is our substance. Every child begins with a tender heart that has faith in abundance. It’s a heart that is receptive to God, open to the truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done in taking our place and paying the price of our sin. That’s the substance from which we gain life by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. It’s how we bear fruit at His timing, at His season. The way of the one who is hostile to God and His design leaves behind the substance of faith in Christ and consequently experiences a growing sin problem. The ungodly won’t stand in the day of judgment, they won’t be able to withstand God’s justice, His holiness, His wrath against sin even though He loves them dearly. Sin separates.
So it really comes down to two ways, there’s only two ways that any person in any culture in any country can ever go. There is the way of the righteous, it’s the way of life that God designed for all people to know Him and to come to Him because they belong to Him. There is only one way. It’s why Jesus once said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me.” There is the way of the righteous and contrasted to that is the way of the ungodly. That way itself will perish and those who take that way will perish. John 3:16 said it clearly, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whomsoever should believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” There are only two ways, the broad way upon which many walk and yet are lost and which leads to destruction…the narrow way which leads to life and few there are who find it.
There are times in your life when you need a song, a love song, a song of hope, a song that’s true. Psalm 1 is an instruction to us all in how to be blessed and how to resist the sin that destroys. It begins by being straight with God about sin, seek Him and ask for His Son Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord… be blessed.