What is a True Sign of God’s Blessing?
“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; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Ps 1: 1-2).
Who doesn’t want God’s blessing?
God’s blessing is something all Christians want. The question of what exactly this “blessing” is or what this “state of blessedness” refers to is particularly difficult. This is exacerbated enormously by today’s materialistic, man-centered brand of Christianity.
So many choices
The so called “prosperity” gospel offers us blessing in the form of health and wealth. Positive thinkers offer the blessing as an anxiety-free, worry-free, and problem free existence. Seeker friendly churches offer the blessing of God’s love and favor without any requirements from the believer whatsoever. The social gospel offers the blessing through helping others and making our world better.
However, this is not what the Psalmist had in view when he began his Psalm with the word “blessed”. We know this because of other passages in Scripture in which these false pronouncements of blessings are contradicted. Here are a few examples:
Blessing cannot mean material riches alone
1 Tim 6: 9-10 “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Blessing cannot mean never having lack
Phil 4: 11-12 “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Blessing cannot mean never suffering and no troubles
Jn 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Blessing cannot mean free license to sin
Ps 5:5 “The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.”
This sample of verses shows that the Bible never promises health, wealth, and a care-free existence to Christians as a sign of God’s blessing. These verses shine a light on what God’s blessing is not, now let’s look at what it is.
Apart from the general ambiguity associated with the term “blessed” and the wide range of ways it’s implored, in Psalm 1, the Hebrew term used is esher which means “happy”. So what we have in Psalm 1 is a prescription for Christian happiness or blessedness. The prescription comes in the negative and the positive, by example and nonexample alike. First, let’s look at the Psalmists insight concerning the blessing of God by examining what blessed people do not do from Psalm 1:1.
What the blessed don’t do
The verse reads, “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.”
1.Walk not in the counsel of the ungodly. This is to say that the blessed of God are not informed by, or follow the dictates of the world. This is true of all the ungodly which is precisely the reason they are ungodly. The ungodly follow the plan of the world and are controlled by worldly factors the Apostle John notes in 1 Jn 2:16.
2.Stand in the path of sinners. You are blessed if the direction of your life is not that of the sinner. Those blessed by God do not deliberately place themselves in places and situations that lead to perdition.
3.Sit in the seat of the scornful. The blessed of God do not put themselves in domains where the tongue goes ungoverned. Conversations, where the tongue is unbridled, unrestricted, and unchecked, are to be avoided. If not it will spew all of its hellfire, unruly evil and deadly poison (Jas 3: 6-8). The blessed do not use their words to tear others down in order to build themselves up.
Thinking as the world does, moving along the same tracts of fulfillment, and speaking with the same thoughtless lack of restraint we find in this world are indictments on us that we lack God’s blessing.
There is a reason that none of these will ever or can ever lead to true happiness. They are all unable to deliver on what they promise. God brings worldly wisdom to nothing and the way that seems right to a man leads to death. In the same way, we will all be held accountable for what we say. God’s character and nature do not change, so His stance on sin will always remain the same. So when each of these (worldly thinking, living, and speaking) promise good things (blessing) they will always fall short. This has been deliberately designed by God. He sets the parameters on true blessing and happiness and they do not come in a package that we would expect. Let me explain.
Is the Psalmist confused?
It seems like Psalm 1:1 should be followed by verses like Psalms 119:1-2, not Psalm 1:2. So it would read like this:
“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…Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!”
There is a logical progression here both in reasoning and also imagery. Psalm 1 speaks of “walking” “standing” and “sitting” in undesirable forums and Psalm 119: 1-2 uses almost those same terms in the opposite way. Psalm 1 says where we should not go and Psalm 119 tells where we should go. It also tells us how to get there, namely by “keeping His testimonies” and “seeking Him with the whole heart”. This seems like it would be a perfect fit for the Psalmist to add directly after Psalm 1:1 but he doesn’t place it there.
A grand prescription
Instead, He counteracts verse 1 not with a command on where the blessed are to go and how they are to get there but rather he shows them where their joy should be! The Psalmists’ prescription is absolutely amazing! How often have we Christians tried to use some formulaic system to fix our behavior or our repeated shortcomings in a particular area? How often have we failed at this?
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”
This is what the prosperity preacher and positive thinker will never say. The reason they will never say it is because it robs them of glory. They want to fill you with their false doctrine and then when you perceive any small measure of success give them all the credit. This is a very abominable practice.
What makes this command so glorious is that the Psalmist doesn’t merely direct us to read the Bible a lot…no, in his eyes that won’t do. His word to us is more demanding than that. His word to us is that we are not only to read the Word of God but to read it joyfully and to delight supremely in that act.
Are you really blessed?
Now, if we were to measure your blessedness by the degree to which you delighted yourself in reading and meditating on the Scriptures, how would you do? If the Lord has taught me anything in the last few years it is that there is a huge difference between reading the Word out of obligation and reading it for delight. In fact, why we go to the Scriptures is just as important as if we go to the scriptures. If we go for the wrong reasons, the result may ultimately be the same as if we had never gone at all.
If we can say each day along with King David, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” or “And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love” then we are truly blessed. All Christians are called to proclaim the praises of God who, by His grace has called us from death to life, from darkness to light (Eph 1:4-6; 1 Pet 2:9). How better to do this than through consistent, purposeful, joyful encounters with God through His word? I want to suggest that there is no better way.
Filling yourself with God’s truth creates a mighty river of praise that flows to God and is acceptable to God because it is based on His revelation of Himself and His ways. What more blessed life could there be? This is a life that will only get better as we age and sweeter as we get closer to leaving this world, and then in eternity, it will be glorious to a degree beyond human comprehension!
So take this up. Take up the blessed life of delighting in God through His word. God will be praised and you will be blessed.
*For an excellent book on delighting in God through His Word, I commend “Reading the Bible Supernaturally” by John Piper, published by Crossway.