Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Characteristics of the Blessed (Part 1)

Psalm 1 talks about characteristics of those who are blessed (or happy, depending on the version you read). The first verse tells us who these people are: the ones who do not follow the advice of the wicked; those who do not take the path that sinners tread; the ones who do not sit in the seat of scoffers. As we all seek to be both blessed and happy, I found myself asking the following questions:

1. Whose advice are you following? James 1:5 tells us that anyone who lacks wisdom should ask God for it. John 1:1 tells us that God is in His Word. Finally, James 1:22-25 tells us that we should not only hear the word, but also do it, and in doing so be blessed in our doing.

2. Which path are you following? In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus says to enter through the narrow gate, because the wide gate and easy road lead to destruction. But on the other hand, the narrow gate and hard road lead to life, and few find it. In addition, Jeremiah 6:16 advises us to stand at the crossroads, to look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies. Jeremiah then tells us to walk in it and in doing so find rest. The good path is not a new one! But it is not an obvious one either.

3. Where are you sitting? In times past, at any meal or event seats were assigned and they were usually designated by social position. All throughout Proverbs, the scoffers have been contrasted with the wise - they are fools. Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 tell us that only a fool says in his heart that there is no God. Proverbs 1:7 says that fools despise wisdom and instruction. Being seated in the company of such fools implies that you too, are foolish. Furthermore, Proverbs 13:20 says to walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Thus it is a blessing not to be seated in the midst of folly.

Then in Psalm 1:2 we see that the delight of the blessed is in the law of the Lord, on which they meditate day and night.  Psalm 19:7 says that the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. Ironically (or perhaps not), the longest chapter of the Bible, Psalm 119, talks a whole lot about meditating on the law of the Lord as part of living a Godly life. Psalm 119:10-11 says, "I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." This is the attitude of someone who meditates on the Word day and night.

And why? Because the Word of God is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). Because we should arm ourselves with the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:17). Because scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). Because the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Because those who hear the word of God and believe that He has eternal life pass from death to life (John 5:24).

Be blessed and shine happily!

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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! -Prov 15:23