NFC I: Ted Christman on “An Exposition of Psalm 1″

Tim Brister —  June 24, 2008 — 2 Comments

About Ted Christman:

Ted Christman is the founding pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky where he has joyfully labored since 1973. Ted received his BA at Bob Jones University, his MDiv at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and has pursued postgraduate studies at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Forbid Them Not: Rethinking the Baptism and Church Membership of Young People, the Daily Bible Reading Schedule, and the chapter entitled “Loving Your Flock” in Dear Timothy. He is board member and pastoral-mentor at the Midwest Center for Theological Studies. He and his wife, Dianne, have two grown children, Rebekah and Jonathan, both of whom are involved in kingdom service.

Ted Christman to the live-blogger: “This guys preaches Psalm 1 better than anyone else I have ever heard . . .”.

Text: Psalm 1

The theme of this familiar psalm is the present and future blessedness, and the present and future misery of the wicked.  It is about both.  The structure is very simple: it divides into two parts, exactly in half.  Verse 1-3 is about the blessed man, and 4-6 is a description of the miserable man.

Preliminary Observations

1.  This psalm divides all of humanity into two categories–all of humanity.  We are familiar with this division in the Scriptures–children of God and children of the devil, saved and lost, light and darkness, etc.  This division is as ancient as the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman.  We must hold to these two categories in our preaching.  Our people must be very conscious as to what category they belong to.

2.  The word “blessed” carries the meaning of a deep-seated joy, delight, satisfaction, and contentment in God.  It carries a “holy happiness.”

3.  The expression that we find in verse 2, “the law of the Lord,” ought to be understood as broadly and not narrowly.  The psalmist is not just referring to the Ten Commandments; the Torah is to be understood as the instruction of the Lord.  A legitimate expression is “the Word of God.”

Some Particulars

The Righteous

Literally, the word “blessed” can be translated “Oh the blessed of the man who . . .”.   He begins negatively.

1.  Negatively: What a godly, happy man does not do and does not go.  The fact of the matter is that there are places that godly people do not go and things godly people do not do and people godly people should not socialize with.

a.  “does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly” – does not live out his life according to the teaching of the one who is wicked; this reminds me of the fact that epistemology always gives birth to ethics.  The ungodly begin with the wrong place.  God has authoritatively given us the knowledge through His Word.

b.  “does not stand in the way of sinners” – does not desire the company of sinners; this does not mean that he does not want to reach out to sinners to reach them with the gospel; rather he does not prefer the company of sinners.

c.  “does not sit in the seat of scoffers” – does not identify himself with the enemies of God’s Word, cause, and people.

There is a linear digression in this verse–going downhill, and it is not so much as slowing down as much as going down.

2.  Positively

a.  “he delights in the law of the Lord” – he doesn’t go first to godly people; his first companion is the Word of God, the revelation of God–that’s what he delights in; to delight in the Word of God is to delight in the God of the Word.

b.  “he meditates in it” – giving close concentration of mind and thought until we are affected by what we have seen and experience and savor what we have seen in our hearts; it is staying with the Word of God and seeing it internalized, savored, resolved, and applied.  We are to do this “day and night”.  We like this man ought to be obsessed with the Word of God–preoccupied with the Word of God, thinking about it as often as we can.

3.  Analogously – like a tree planted by the water that prospers

4.  Covenantally - the explanation in verse 6 (“for the Lord knows the way of the righteous”): a knowledge of intimate concern and love that began from all eternity

5.  Morally - verse 6 (“the way of the righteous“)

The Wicked

1.  Morally - the “wicked”

2.  Contrastively - shows difference over and against the godly and righteous

3.  Analogously - “like the chaff that the wind drives away”

4.  Eschatologically - “he will not withstand the judgment” (his end)

Application to Delighting in the Law of the Lord

1.  Delighting in the Word of God is essential.  What is it essential for?  For our salvation.  According to the psalmist, this and this alone is the one who is blessed, who has the favor of God.  If we do not delight in the Word of God at all, we have no reason to believe that we are saved.  It is essential for our happiness, for our fruitfulness, for our perseverance, and for our prosperity (all in verse 3).  Who would not want to be the man in Psalm 1:3?  Can you say this is a description of me?

Merely not doing verse 1 does not guarantee the blessings of verse 3. It is not what we do not do that makes us prosper; it is delighting in the Word of God, meditating on it day and night.  It is what we do that accounts for our prosperity.  We can still do avoid doing the things in verse 1 and perish; but you cannot do what is verse three and not be blessed.   This subjective affection (delighting) which manifests itself objectively in meditation is absolutely essential for our ministerial prosperity.

2. Delighting in God’s Word is dynamic.  This affection can and must increase in our lives.  There are degrees of delight, are there not?  Do you delight in the Word of God now than ever before?  We should prayerfully cultivate this delight in God’s Word.  We must not say, “I wish I had a greater degree of delight, but you know, I am just not there yet, and maybe someday God will be pleased to grant me delight.”  You and I would never allow an unbeliever to argue that way.  No, we need to see God’s Word as an acceptable, wonderful, God-prescribed drug that is by its very nature, is addictive–so addictive that the more of it you get, the more you need it.  This prescription has unlimited refills and won’t cost you anything.  We must grow in this grace, and God has made it addictive on purpose.  We need to eat the scroll and enjoy the honey, like Bunyan who, when pricked would bleed “Bibline.”  We need to the reality of the song we sing, “Give me one pure and holy passion, give me one magnificent ambition, give me one glorious ambition for me life–to know and follow hard after you.”  What if God answered that prayer in holy visitation?  He would hand you His Word and say, “Delight in this, meditate on this.”  We will be granted this holy passion, magnificent obsession, and glorious ambition, and make you like a tree planted by streams of living water and prosper in all that he does.

May God grant us that great blessing.

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  • Dave Pantana

    Hey old friend, we needed you here this weekend. Phil and john came down to Georgia we took a flip video camera and recorded an old Phi Beta song. Take a look on my “profile” page to view it. How are you anyway. We sang at my sister Regina’s daughters wedding in Greenville and saw a lot of old BJU people including Mrs. Jones III. Regina’s son married Frank Garlock’s grandaughter. We’re all doing good, Dee still loves me (I think) just celibrated 39 wedding annv. and have 5 grandkids. Fill me in on your family. Dave