SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 13 November 2022
Sermon Text: Psalm 1:1-6
I. Blessed is the man
II. Blessed is like a tree planted by streams of water
III. The wicked are not so
V. Conclusion: Therefore
Billions of people live on earth. And do you know what everyone equally possesses and uses at the same rate? It’s time. Time is the only thing each one has the exactly same amount and spends at the exactly same rate. No one spends it in advance, nor can anyone make it go slower. Everyone moves unidirectionally along the current of time and that is going forward. You cannot move backward or turn sideway; you only follow the direction time flows.
Although all people move forward, not everyone walks the same way, but each one’s own way. One seeks this while another seeks that. Just as numerous people live on earth, so also are the ways of people.
But no one knows where his way would lead him to and how or when it would end. People pretend that they have some ideas but that’s what they only wish, crossing fingers behind their back. It’s like running blindfolded. So, everyone is anxious and fearful of what would come in the way.
In this sense, man’s way is like a ‘dot-to-dot’ drawing. You begin from the starting point and move forward to the next numbered dot and so on. As you move your pen, you have no idea at all of what the entire picture might be. Following the numbers, you still don’t get it. But once you reach the final dot and connecting all those mysterious dot points, you have a full and complete picture. Any dot-to-dot drawing has numbers to follow, but in the way of people, there’s no such guiding dots. So, everyone is anxious and some are fearful.
But what if there are clear dots for you to look at and follow? What if you have a complete picture of your way? No more would you be anxious; no need is there for you to be fearful of what may come, because you have a complete map of the path you’re going.
In fact, such is what this book we call ‘The Psalms’ is for. It presents to us a complete picture of our way, that is, in the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, this is the purpose and message of what we call ‘wisdom literature’ in the OT which includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. In all these books, the first psalm which we’ve read a minute ago presents us the picture of our way in the most concise form yet richly and colourfully.
Let me tell you that that is not all. What this psalm ultimately points us to is the Lord Jesus who is the Blessed of God; and this psalm shows us that our Lord is inviting us to join Him and share His blessings. Having this in mind, let us follow the Holy Spirit as He opens our eyes and shows us this way of the righteous – like you and me and all who come to Jesus and worship the Father through the Son.
I. “BLESSED IS THE MAN”
This psalm is about God’s blessed ones and their way. And the blessed are all who come to God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and worship Him as their Creator God and Father. It means you and me alongside all true believers of Jesus Christ. So, this psalm is about us.
Now, this psalm – as a complete picture of the way we walk – describes firstly what you and I do not do. You and I have no interest in walking in or following the counsel or advice or plan of the wicked. The wicked means the unbelievers who reject Jesus and refuse to worship God. And when you hear the plan of the wicked, your mind and heart have no delight in it at all, and your soul detests it. There’s no room in your heart for any scheme of God-haters. Therefore, you and I do not stand in the way of sinners, nor do we sit in the seat of scoffers. In a word, you and I and all true worshippers of God who trust in Jesus have nothing to do with the plans and works of the wicked.
Having said, I want you to hear the psalm’s sober warning against anyone who might have the slightest interest in hearing the plan of the wicked and join their businesses. Once he does, he would soon be taken by the wicked to ‘stand’ in their way, then, to ‘sit’ in their seat with sinners and scoffers.
But the blessed of God are not interested in the way of the wicked, but delight in knowing God’s word and understanding His will for His beloved. As the psalmist confesses in Ps. 119, God’s words are to the hearts of the blessed sweeter than honey! So we meditate on God’s word day and night because it’s what we eat and drink and receive nourishment.
Preparing this message over the last week, I almost constantly hummed one of the hymns we have in the Rejoice hymn book. It’s #428, ‘Blessed is the man,’ based on Ps. 1. We sang it last Sunday as you remember. Day and night, this hymn was on my lips as the words were on my heart. In fact, this is what this psalm means when it says in v. 2, “he meditates day and night.” Literally, it means to hum God’s words, telling to oneself.
I believe all of you do the same, don’t you? Your heart picks up a certain Bible verse or chapter – in case it’s a story – and keeps humming it for days or weeks. This is what God’s blessed do and are interested. Your heart and mine are on God and our ears are attentive to His voice through the words of the Scriptures. Such are you and me, the blessed of God!
But the wicked are not so, nor are sinners and scoffers. These categories of the opponents of God are interchangeably used in Psalms to describe God-haters, but there are slight differences in meaning. While ‘the wicked’ is simply those who have been judged as guilty in a court of law, the Hebrew word rendered to ‘sinners’ here means those who live lives dominated and shaped by their sinful inclination. Then, ‘scoffers’ are those who intentionally object to God’s teaching and belittle it, promoting evil in the lives of many others.
And the blessed – that is, you and I – do have no interest in their counsel, thus, do not stand nor sit with them!
II. “BLESSED IS LIKE A TREE PLANTED BY STREAMS OF WATER”
As you and I delight in God’s word, instead, and meditate on God’s sweet message day and night, we’re like trees planted by streams of water, as v. 3 portrays. Hearing it, some of you might wonder with slight disappointment and say, ‘Why a tree by streams of water and not a precious jewel in king’s palace or a beautiful flower in God’s garden?’ But, hold on, friends, and hear what this picture draws! It is the most beautiful and glorious picture of you and me who are God’s blessed!
First of all, you who delight in God’s word and meditate on it day and night, confessing in your heart and soul that His word is sweeter than honey to your heart is a living tree, not a lifeless stone, and this tree lives forever unlike a flower that lasts for just a few days.
It is believed that total 33 trees in the world are older than a thousand years and about half of them are believed to be older than 2,000 years. Moreover, seven of them are considered as older than 3,000 years. They seem to live forever, compared to human lifespan. Consider some other trees that are tall and huge in size. They amaze us. But this tree v. 3 pictures is with no possibility of dying; it lives eternity and that’s a portrait of you and me and all who trust in Jesus and, through Him, worship the Father!
That’s not all. This tree is ‘planted’ by the Gardner. It’s not a wild tree; it does not live in an environment that requires survival of the fittest or strongest, but under a close and constant care of the best Gardner. And according to His plan, it is carefully planted at a spot that is carefully chosen and prepared! This is what you and I hear from the Scriptures like Eph. 2:3 and following that tell us this: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.” Read the whole chapter of Eph. 1 yourself at home, and every word you read will enrich your heart and soul. You are ‘planted.’
And the spot God chose for you is by ‘streams of water.’ Please don’t picture these as small water streams that flow around and between pebbles in a narrow valley. It means much bigger in size and volume of water that flows and, because of this, some English translations render it to ‘rivers’ or ‘channels’ or ‘canals.’ There’s no possibility of drying up, nor danger of flash flood which often cuts the banks and uproots nearby trees. No, these streams of water are constant and safe water ways as the source of rich nourishment to every planted tree.
So, neither its leaf withers nor its branches miss seasonal fruit. I believe you get the picture of what kind of tree this is. Green and healthy as it stands beside still waters, it bears fruit when the right season comes. My dear friends, this is a picture commentary of what the NT teaches in Gal. 5, telling us that the fruit we bear in the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control.” And, about the season of bearing these fruit, Rom. 5 tells us this: “[our] suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” According to God’s time, by the nourishment God provides, we bear seasonal fruit that tastes sweet and has a rich flavour. This tree is you and I along with all saints! And know that this psalm tells us that you and I ARE like this tree. From the moment you confess your faith in Jesus and bow to the Father in worship, you’ve become like this tree planted by the streams of water. This is not a picture of you in a distant future – no! You have already become like one and you’ve rooted by the streams of water and many of you have borne various and much fruit of the Spirit while adding richer flavour to them and bearing more fruit in the coming days and years.
This does not mean, however, your life would be trouble-free. No. The point this picture of planted tree by still waters draws is the nature and purpose of all things that do come to us. Whatever comes, whether joy or trouble, whether success or persecution, whether fame or poverty or illness or even death, the single purpose of all these is to nurture you and me to bear much fruit of the Spirit in season.
Ultimately, all things in this picture of the tree point out the Tree through whom life comes, that is, Jesus Christ! He is the Tree from whom all trees have received life. It is His life that is given to every tree planted by the streams of water. And consider His way. He was born at the lowest place; He lived among sinners yet without sin; being sinless, He was hung on the tree as the One cursed for the sins of sinners, yet, on the third day rose again from the dead to be the firstfruit of all who receive life through faith in Him.
Receiving His life, as He stands beside this still water, we stand by the same water; as He bears fruit, we bear the same fruit in season; as He never dies, we too live forever with Him!
III. “THE WICKED ARE NOT SO”
What we’ve heard so far is not the complete picture of the ways of people this psalm portrays. The rest of the picture is about the wicked and their way.
V. 4 describes it briefly and says, “The wicked are not so.” Let me point out to you how dreadful this sounds! All we’ve heard so far have nothing to do with the wicked. The scoffers and opponents of God have a completely different share. And that is, as the second half of v. 4 says, lifelessness and meaninglessness like “chaff that the wind drives away.” Neither life nor any worth is there with chaff, and such is a picture of the wicked and their way. No one cares to which way or when the wind takes them away. The vanity of this portrait of the wicked is a terror even to us who are the blessed through faith in Jesus, thus, nothing to worry about being blown away. Then, how much more would it be to the ears and heart of anyone who rejects the gospel call and the Lord’s gracious invitation to life?
This is why Isaiah of the OT poured out his heart and said this: “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.” It’s so urgent because no one knows when the wind would blow the chaff away. So this call for life through Jesus is universal, and the NT in the book of Hebrews repeats the same message and says, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” It must be ‘TODAY’ that anyone who has not believed in Jesus should change his/her mind, and bow to Jesus and seek His forgiveness of sins, thus receive His everlasting life!
IV. CONCLUSION: “THEREFORE …”
It is so natural to have a conclusion of all these in the words we read from vs. 5-6: “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.”
So, rejoice in the Lord Jesus, and give thanks to God for showing us this complete picture of who we are in Jesus and what our way is in Him. Although all the dots of our way haven’t been connected yet, we already know the complete picture of our way. No wonder why the Apostle Paul said in Phil. 3:1, encouraging us to rejoice in these words, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you” who are planted trees by God’s still waters!
But if any of you here does not have this joy in your heart, please come to see me afterward or anytime during the week to talk about this urgent need for life. ***