“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night…
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.”
The first psalm asserts that how one responds to Scripture, how a person responds to the revelation of God in Torah, will determine that person’s ultimate destiny. When it comes to the Law of the Lord there are two choices, two paths. Moses gives us two paths in his farewell sermon on the mountain and says, “Choose life.” Jesus gives us two paths in his sermon on the mountain and says, “Choose the straight and narrow.” And the psalmist does a similar thing.
By using both positive and negative examples, the psalm encourages us to adopt the fruitful and satisfying life that’s characterized by complete immersion in God and his Word. So immersed in the Word of God, so focuses on the Law of the Lord, that it shapes and dominates your worldview. This is the way of the righteous. And God watches those who walk in that way. By contrast, the one who does not delight in the Law of the Lord is shaped by the counsel of the wicked. He is formed in the way of sinners. Those who walk in this way will perish.
It’s a choice.
God speaks. God reveals. He calls. God makes his holy character and perfect will known through Torah, and what we do with that word is everything. It’s the difference between growing as a fruitful tree and fading away as useless chaff. It’s the difference between well-watered and well-nourished stability and dry, dusty, windblown impermanence. Two choices: the way of the righteous that God oversees and the way of wickedness that leads to destruction. It’s the wise man and the foolish man building their houses in Matthew 7. The only difference between the two men is attention to and obedience to the teachings of Jesus, hearing the Word of the Lord and putting it into practice.
Our God does not reveal himself to be catalogued and studied; he reveals himself to be followed. Our God does not speak to be heard; he speaks to be obeyed.
You ask your daughter to fold the clean towels and put them away in the cabinet (this is purely a hypothetical situation). You come back in twenty minutes and the towels are still in a wad on the couch and the same daughter is sitting in the same spot watching the same TV, only now she’s eating a Pop Tart. And you say to your daughter, “Did you hear me?!?” By that, you don’t mean, “Did the sound waves caused by the vibrations in my tongue and throat penetrate your ear canals to be carried to your brain where they are deciphered into understandable language?” When you say, “Did you hear me?” you’re actually saying, “Why didn’t you obey me?”
To delight in the Law of the Lord, to meditate on it day and night, is to do it. Hearing is doing. Faith is acting.
The Word of God is powerful. It changes lives. It alters destinies. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul acknowledges the Word of God that “is at work in you.” In 2 Timothy, he claims that Scripture equips a man for every good work. Not doctrinal perfection. Not knowledge about facts and patterns. Paul says it leads to action. Hearing is doing. The righteous one delights in the Law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night not to know more. To become more. We don’t learn or study Scripture as much as we ingest it. We assimilate it. We take it into our lives in such a way that it becomes a part of us and it metabolizes into this fruit: acts of love, cups of cold water, prison and hospital visits, cakes baked, groceries delivered, comfort and encouragement, evangelism and justice.
When Samuel was confronted with God’s voice, he replied, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” James says to not just hear the Word, but to do it.
“I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” ~Psalm 40:8