March 11, 2010

Choosing the Right Counsel - Psalm 1:1-2

Well, this is the third week of six where I am leading the high school boys youth ministry at First Assembly of God, for my seminary internship.

When the youth pastor asked me six weeks ago if I would be interested in leading the guys for six weeks, he also informed me that I didn't have to do this if I didn't want to. I thought for a moment and realized, how could I not accept this opportunity to contribute to the spiritual growth of these young men! It would certainly be a challenge for me and an experience that I might not otherwise willingly choose in the future, but either way, we would grow together through this experience.

The first week, our study was about when Jesus said that He is God (I AM) to the Pharisees (John 8:58) and I referred to the book of Exodus where Moses asked God, whom shall he say that sent him, to deliver the people from slavery of the Egyptians, "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." (Exodus 3:14, KJV).

For the second week, our study was about Hebrews 4:12, The Power of the Word of God. It is amazing how much more can be undestood from the Scriptures when it is exposited, explained in depth, rather than at the surface level. This was definitely a time when the exposition of this verse became even clearer, to my life as a Christian.

So now this week, week 3, our exposition study was about Psalm 1:1-2 and Choosing the Right Counsel. This post is modified a bit from last night, but the focus of the study is still there.

Counsel - עצה ‛êtsâh (ay-tsaw') - plan; also prudence: - advice or advisement from another.
We are faced with countless decisions that need to be made on a daily basis. Large or small, they have to be made and we should be seeking the counsel from someone whom is experienced, knowledgeable, credible, honest and trustworthy.

(I didn't realize this last night, but these same characteristics, in whom we would look for regarding receiving the counsel of another are with God in His Word.)

So, the type of counsel that is received is going to be a pretty good indicator of the anticipated outcome of your decision, if you follow their adivce, therefore, it would be wise to seek the best counsel concerning making any decision for your life.When it comes to walking with God and choosing to go in a certain direction in life, the priority should be to turn to God and seek His guidance, rather than advice from a best friend.

VERSE 1

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.


This verse stands out to alert the reader, as well as the listener that this type of person is not going to offer good advice concerning any matter, in another person's life.

1. The ungodly man - one uninfluenced by God. Ungodly, רשעים reshaim from רשע rasha, simply describes the man or woman that does not have God in them and who is also without God in the world.

Who wants to receive counsel from someone that is led by the sinful nature of their lives? Who wants to receive counsel from someone that is serving Satan with their lives rather than someone who is serving God?
2. The sinner - he who adds to ungodliness transgression. Sinners, חטאים chattaim, from חטא chata, "to miss the mark," "to pass over the prohibited limits," "to transgress." Knowing that an ungodly person is without God, it also describes more specifically why they are without God and that is because of sin that remains in their life.
The verse uses the plural word sinners, meaning more than one and this type of person finds themselves among others like him/her. "Great minds think alike!" Not so, when all have a mind that seeks to be pleased greater by sin, than to please God by making themselves a living sacrifice to God.
3. The scornful - the deist, atheist, etc., who make a mock of everything sacred. Scornful, לצים letsim, from לצה latsah, "to mock, deride." He who has no religion; lives in the open breach of God’s laws, and turns revelation, the immortality of the soul, and the existence of an invisible world into ridicule. He is at least a deist, and endeavors to dissolve, as much as he can, the bonds of moral obligation in civil society. As the sinner exceeds the ungodly, so the scornful exceeds both.
The life of the scornful one is exemplified by their speech as well as the company they keep, who are also like them. It is as if they sit a roundtable discussing how utterly ridiculous it would be to consider the counsel of God, rather than the excellent academic achievements they have or the esteemed intellectualism that is comparable to many of the great philosophers of old.
In contrast to Scripture, I am amazed concerning the millions of people that sit in front of their television, to watch and listen intently to people like Dr. Phil, Oprah Winfrey, or those that are on Christian television, who "advise" how to prosper (mis)using God's Word, these people place little, to no value in the Word of God in their own lives and walk in flagrant disobediece concerning the doctrine of Scripture.
They are merely using God for their vainglory and profit and in the end, is condemning to their eternal souls.
We must be cautious of people that offer advice based on anything other than the word of God and our admonition concerning this comes from Colossians 2:8,
"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."
Points 1-3, Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible. The subsequent paragraphs, from each point, in italics are mine.

"The great lesson to be learned from the whole is, sin is progressive; one evil propensity or act leads to another. He who acts by bad counsel may soon do evil deeds; and he who abandons himself to evil doings may end his life in total apostasy from God." Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible.

VERSE 2

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he meditates day and night.

The best source of wisdom and guidance for anyone's life, to receive counsel for any situation is from the Word of God and the man (or woman) that does this finds a great sense of contentment on a daily basis too! It is not only pleasing to them to search God's Word for counsel, but it is valued by them as well. Since it the Godly man's delight to search God's Word, there is no dissatisfaction to search within the pages of Scripture either, since it is His good and perfect will for every believer in Christ.

One way to quickly identify whether or not someone is able to offer wise counsel is to ask if they are in God's Word each day and each night? The word meditate in verse 2 also means to ponder, but even more, to study.

From within the pages of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, the wise counsel of God is found and it is a privilege to come to God who is all-knowing (Omniscient) and wiser than any man in the world, concerning those things that would be pleasing, honoring and glorifying to Him, through our lives.

Please note, I am not suggesting that the Bible should be used as a manual by looking up the table of contents concerning finding the answer to a particular situation in your life. Reading God's Word on a daily basis is only part of the discipline that is needed to find God's Will. Daily prayer with God is another. A person has no desire to read the Bible or pray, if they have not been truly saved and converted to Christ.

Charles Spurgeon's commentary regading verses 1 and 2 are quite a treasure, in light of this study.
When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God - the evil is rather practical than habitual - but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God's commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as garments spotted by the flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and goes without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.

And now mark his positive character. "His delight is in the law of the Lord." He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, oreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. "The law of the Lord" is the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David's day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses! But, alas, what ill-treatment is given to this angel from heaven! We are not all Berean searchers of the Scriptures. How few among us can lay claim to the benediction of the text! Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you - Is your delight in the law of God? Do you study God's Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand - your best companion and hourly guide? If not, this blessing belongeth not to you.
Question:
  • What value have you given to the Word of God, concerning making decisions in your life?
  • Is your life heading in the direction God desires as a result of your previous consel with His Word?
  • Whom are you taking advice from and are they ungodly, sinners and scornful, or from someone that delights daily in the Word of God?

Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


What is meant by "expository" preaching? Click here to listen to John MacArthur explain.

1 comment:

Phil Morgan said...

Good study! And nice Hebrew fonts on your blog page.

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