As I read Psalm 1, three illustrations from the Bible flash into my mind. Two men flirted with evil, then fell; but there was one other who refused to begin a "walk in the counsel of the wicked." The first two illustrations involve Lot and Samson; the third is Joseph. People the world over are familiar with Samson, whose life is best described in Proverbs 5:20–23:
For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress,
And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?
For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD,
And He watches all his paths.
His own iniquities will capture the wicked,
And he will be held with the cords of his sin.
He will die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.
Most people are not as well-acquainted with Lot, Abraham's nephew. With Psalm 1:1 in mind, note Genesis 13:
So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. (v. 11)
Lot "walked in the way of the ungodly."
Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD. (vv. 12–13)
He "came and took his stand among sinners."
And in Genesis 19:
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. (v. 1)
He now lived among them with his dwelling in "the seat of the scoffers."
How different was Joseph! He refused to allow the daily grind of compromise to take its toll even though Potiphar's wife continued to make her sensual moves. Please stop and read Genesis 39:1–12. The man literally ran from her alluring advances. I find it most significant that every time sexual sins are mentioned in the New Testament we are told to "flee." Psalm 1:1 assures us we will be happy many times over if we check the first signals of compromise with evil. Happiness is maintaining unblemished, moral purity.
The ancient song goes on: "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night" (v. 2).
This verse begins with "but," a word of contrast. While the first verse was negative, this is positive. In contrast to compromise and erosion, the godly believer occupies himself with God's Word.
Why does David mention the Law here? Because in order to change our path of living, we need an absolute standard, clear direction. God's Word gives us that sense of direction. We understand the Law to be a reference to God's written Word, the Bible (Psalm 119:9). The psalmist claims that the godly person "delights" in the Lord's Word. He doesn't look upon the Word as irksome or a burden or an interruption in his day. Rather, day and night he meditates on it.
Verse 1 of Psalm 1 gives us a promise of happiness; verse 2 provides the means for experiencing it. Now verse 3 declares the end result:
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
I am impressed that we shall be something rather than do something as a result of delighting in and meditating on God's Word. Without any fanfare, yet surely as the rising of the morning sun, we shall become treelike in four specific ways. We will be:
1. Planted—fortified, stable, rooted, solid, and strong
2. Fruitful—production naturally follows being planted and growing
3. Unwithered—even during days of difficulty, the treelike soul is undaunted
4. Prosperous—fulfils the goals God has designed for his life
I have said for years: "The roots grow deep when the winds are strong" (Jeremiah 17:5–8). Let me encourage you today to maintain a pure, uncompromising walk; delight yourself in His Word, and you'll grow into a stable, reliable "spiritual tree."
There is no shortcut to spiritual growth. Like physical growth, it occurs on a daily basis, depending upon the food and proper surroundings. With the right kind of spiritual diet and climate, you can experience "happiness many times over." And best of all, the daily grind of compromise and its erosive effects can be checked.
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind (Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved. Used by permission.