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An Original Book of Poetry

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Psalms 1

Psalm 1 gives us the key to a stable, fruitful, satisfying life serving the Lord. Simply put, we must reject the words and ways of those who reject righteous living and give ourselves to the Word of God, drawing upon it constantly for its life-giving, life-changing instruction.


Has it ever occurred to you that God is the original Poet? In fact, He created us as a work of divine art. The apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 that we were created as God’s “workmanship.” That word in the Greek language is poiēma, which gives us our word poem. You happen to be an original poem, written by the creator God.

And God evidently loves creating original poetry because no one else in human history has your fingerprints or voice print. Even your eyes and your face can be used today to identify you, because you are one of a kind.

God also created us in His image, and one evidence is that we love poetry too—whether it’s in the music we hear or written in a book. Is it any surprise, then, that in the middle of your Bible is a book of poetry—a book of sacred hymns—poetry that expresses to this day the way we feel to the deepest levels of our soul?

It took more than a thousand years for various people to collect and arrange all the psalms contained in the book of Psalms. These 150 psalms are actually divided into five sections, they are called books. We’ll point out each of the five books as we work through them in our Wisdom Journey.

The psalms are expressive, emotional, passionate, and relational. They teach us how to cry out to God—and sometimes even complain a bit. We learn from them how to pour out our doubts and sorrows and joys and triumphs to God.

The psalms have a way of changing your attitude toward God rather than expecting God to change your circumstances.This book of inspired poetry is intended by God to become an adviser, a counselor, as you walk through every intersection in life.

Now the very first psalm compares the way of the righteous with the way of the wicked. In verse 1 the author writes, “Blessed is the man.” Now this word “blessed” refers to happiness—deep happiness that comes from moving forward in life.[1] The happy person in Psalm 1 is someone who is advancing in his or her commitment to godly living.

But you will notice that advancing involves refusing certain things. In other words, godly living means you are refusing anything associated with ungodly living. And the psalmist describes three refusals here—three times when you need to say “No” if you want to progress in godly living.

Verse 1 continues: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked.” This pictures an ungodly person merging onto your path and wanting to walk closely next to you. He wants to influence you by joining up with you. And you need to refuse that kind of close companionship.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked”—now notice—“nor stands in the way of sinners.” To stand means to take your place alongside. It’s not just walking alongside unbelievers but taking your stand with them; it’s approving of them, joining them in their way of thinking.

And the digression continues, demanding a third refusal. Verse 1 goes on to say, “nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” The Hebrew word for “scoffers” refers to those who openly mock the counsel of God.[2]

What starts out with a walk becomes a seat at the table. What the psalmist calls the “seat” we would call the “chair.” Today we talk about a school having an endowed chair of engineering or theology. The influential position on a board is held by the chairperson.

Well, the boardroom described here in verse 1 is entirely cynical and opposed to biblical truth. The psalmist’s warning is this: “Listen, if you don’t ignore the wicked, you will eventually take a stand with them; and soon afterward, you’re going to join the board, where they openly scoff at God.”

Now having told us what a godly person should refuse to do, the psalmist now tells us what a godly person should do. Verse 2 says, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord.” If you delight in a person, you want to spend time with that person; if you delight in a song, you want to sing that song. The blessed person delights—prioritizes—the law of the Lord.

In the Psalms, the law is a reference to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and especially the fullest expression of the Lord’s mind or will. This means the psalmist here is referring to the totality of God’s Word. The godly person, the blessed person, loves the Word of God.

The second practice of a blessed person is found in the word “meditate.” Verse 2 says that in God’s law “he mediates day and night.”

The Hebrew word for “meditate” literally means to mutter—to utter sounds.[3] This pictures your mind so engaged with God’s Word that it just sort of spills out to your mouth. Your conversation is embroidered with Scripture. Meditation in the Bible is not the emptying of your mind; it’s the filling of your mind with the Word.

The psalmist now uses the image of a tree to give us three characteristics of a godly person’s life. First, the godly person is stable. Verse 3 says, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water.”   This tree is firmly rooted. And it’s healthy because it draws from the water nearby and grows strong and stable.

No tree grows up overnight. You don’t go out and measure it every morning. Likewise, the Christian life takes exactly that—a lifetime to build. Don’t go measure your growth every day, unless you want to get discouraged.

Second, the godly person is fruitful. Verse 3 says he is like a tree “that yields its fruit in its season.” The result is spiritual fruit. But do not miss the fact that this fruit is not for the tree; it’s for those who come in contact with that tree.

Third, verse 3 says the godly one will be like a tree whose “leaf does not wither.” He is like an evergreen. Tough times cannot dry him out; dry seasons and winter seasons will not destroy his spiritual health. He is going to continue to prosper spiritually.

Then we are given the contrasting life of the wicked. Verse 4 says, “The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.” In other words, they are here today but gone tomorrow. They seem powerful and in control now, but verse 5 reminds us, “They will not stand in the judgment.” There is a day coming when divine truth and the piercing wisdom of God will dismantle their arguments and their defiance.

The godly person, like a tree, is rooted in truth; the unbeliever is not. Unbelievers are tossed about by the winds of culture; they know nothing of stability and fruitfulness and endurance. Simply put, their lives never take root.

This is why we must go back to the Bible again and again—and drink. If we are planted— rooted—next to the stream of God’s truth, the results are stability, fruitfulness, and endurance. Whether it is our marriage, our relationships, our work ethic, or our walk. We are going to become like the strong branches of a tree, planted by the stream of divine truth.

So, let’s drink it up, drink it in, and then live it out, every single day!

[1] Lloyd John Ogilvie, Falling Into Greatness (Thomas Nelson, 1984), 17.

[2] Ogilvie, 19.

[3] Donald Williams, Mastering the Old Testament: Psalms 1–72 (Word Publishing, 1986), 27.

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