Today we begin a thirteen week study of all or portions of thirteen different Psalms from the book bearing that name. That is hardly the proverbial “drop in the bucket” when considering there are 150 chapters in the book of Psalms. This book contains the longest chapter (119) and the shortest chapter (117) in the Bible. In has the center chapter (117) and the center verse (118:8) in the Bible. It is the most quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament. It was written over a period of 1,000 years with numerous authors including David, who wrote roughly half of them, Moses, Asaph, sons of Korah, and Solomon. Forty eight are anonymous.
There are psalms that address virtually every possible human emotion—there are emotional cries to God for deliverance; expressions of gratitude to God for His abundant blessings; declarations of the greatness of God; Prayers for God’s blessings on Israel’s king, some with messianic implications/fulfillments; celebrations of God’s rule over all His creation; expressions of contrition and repentance; practical guidelines for godly living. There are even psalms that call for God’s righteous judgment to fall on the wicked.
The psalms of wisdom, like the other wisdom books—Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes—have both indisputable truths and general truths. Just when I think I understand all God is saying to me He speaks a new truth! We will never plumb the depth of God’s Word!
Dr. Robert Smith Jr. shares this thought: “The Psalms invite us to come close so that we can see the windows of the psalms turned into the mirrors of our lives.” As we read the Psalms we find ourselves saying “This is my story, this is my song; Praising my Savior all the day long!” “It’s not what we get from God that we need most; it is God Himself.”—again Dr. Smith. The Psalms help us understand and express our emotions to God, even our frustrations! God can handle it!
Psalms 1 and 2 serve as an introduction to the book.
The Path of Life! Read Psalm 1:1-3
1. What does the first line of verse 1 tell us about the “state of being” of a person on the path of life? (Happy.)
2. What does worldly happiness depend upon? (Circumstances.)
3. What does God’s definitions of happiness depend upon? (Relationship with Him. It is a deep down contentment.)
4. How many different paths are there for a person to take in life according to Scripture? (Matt. 7:13-14—narrow way and wide way. Why should we be surprised when we read the same idea expressed is different areas of Scripture—All is God inspired!)
There are only two roads; one is God’s way, which leads to life. The other way presents itself in many different forms, but it leads to the same destination—destruction!
5. What progression do we see in verse one for one headed down the wrong path? (Walk, stand, and sit. We all must be very careful about our close associations!)
Also notice the progression of the wrongdoers. They are described as wicked, then sinners, then mockers of those who chose not to go down the wrong path! We must refuse to take ungodly advice, refuse to walk down a sinful path and refuse to make fun of the truth.
6. How do we balance expressing love to ungodly people while refusing to be influenced by them?
7. Where does the godly find delight?
8. What does it mean to meditate on God’s Word?
9. What word picture does the psalmist paint to depict a person who has chosen the right path?
10. What is the godly fruit that God desires for His followers to produce?
11. How can worldly wisdom hinder growth?
12. How does reading the Bible nurture the development of this godly fruit? (It is the nourishment needed for spiritual growth!)
The fruit of the Spirit is produced as God’s Word is absorbed. But as apple trees produce apples, so disciples should produce disciples as we saw last week in Matthew 28! In John 15:1-5 Jesus says “I am the vine and you are the branches…” We must abide in Him if we are to produce fruit!
13. How might our lifestyle or daily schedule change if our delight in and meditation of God’s instruction increased?
It is only by remaining on the right path that we can experience our full potential God planned for us! “I know the plans I have for you…”
The Path of Death! Read Psalm 1:4-5
1. What is the state of being for the person on “The Path of Death?”
2. What is chaff? (Chaff is the husk that contains the precious grain. It is worthless. The righteous was compared to a perennially watered tree that is permanent and prosperous. The wicked is compared to the chaff of wheat that is worthless and blown away by the slightest gust of wind.)
The wicked are the opposite of everything that is said about the righteous in verses 1-2. We can assume that if the happy person does not follow the advice of the wicked, the wicked person does, and so on for the other descriptions from verse 1. However, there are specific details about what the wicked won’t do in verse 5.
3. What is it that the wicked will not do? (One translation says the wicked will not “stand up in the judgment.” See Phil. 2:9-11)
4. How should God’s warning about the future of the wicked affect us?
5. How should we feel?
6. What should we do?
7. How can we share God’s truth in love with those who are in rebellion against God? (We must build a relationship with them to “earn” the right to share with them.)
We cultivate blessing when we follow God in daily routines, remaining focused on being obedient to Him. Falling for the deceptive advice of the wicked leads to instability, worthlessness, and destruction.
The Conclusion! Read Psalm 1:6
1. What does this verse teach about the security of those who follow God?
2. How does this security impact our behavior?
3. Does this verse mean that the “righteous” will not ever have any problems? (Certainly not! As Bro. Tommy Higle shared with us last Sunday, God allows us to have problems to DIRECT us; INSPECT us; CORRECT us; and PERFECT us. But be assured, He is right there with us helping us be more like His Son, Jesus through it all!
4. What is the fate of the wicked in verse 6? (While God is aware of them He does not interfere as they suffer the consequences of their choice of paths.)
The righteous aren’t right with God because of the good things they do: We don’t become righteous because we avoid following the advice of the wicked, taking the path of sinners, or joining with mockers. We are righteous because we have been saved by faith in Christ Jesus. Our actions and behaviors reflect our salvation. They don’t contribute to it.
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What illustration from nature would best describe your spiritual life right now?
2. If you have felt more like a tree planted by streams of water, is it because you have maintained the spiritual disciplines of delighting in God’s Word and meditating on it?
3. On the other hand, if your spiritual life has been more like chaff, is it because you haven’t been avoiding the behaviors of verse 1?
4. Reflect: What might you need to change in your life? Or What good things are you doing that you need to make sure you keep doing?
5. How difficult is it to keep from eavesdropping on the advice of the wicked; or walking with those we know to be wicked; or sitting with those who mock righteousness?
Embracing godly wisdom is more than intellectual ascent. It affects every area of life. It is a conscious decision to take the right path. Look back at decisions you made yesterday. For which did you follow “the advice of the wicked”? Which followed “the pathway of sinners”? Which delighted in “the Lord’s instruction”?
Thank God for watching over the way of the righteous, and ask Him for the strength to continue on the path of life!