Theme: Christ Our Example
In these lessons we see that our growth in holiness is dependent upon our being grounded in the Word of God, which points us to the Lord Jesus Christ as the only source of salvation and sanctification.
Scripture: Psalm 1
It is appropriate that one of our series on the great chapters of the Bible should be the first psalm, because this psalm sets before us the doctrine of the two ways and encourages us to walk in the way of the godly. Psalm 1 is also important because it points us to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, there was an evangelist named Joseph Flax who had an opportunity to speak to a gathering of men containing both Jews and Arabs. He did so on the basis of this psalm, first reading it and then beginning the discussion by asking a question. He asked, “It is most obvious that these opening verbs are in the past tense. [They have a present sense and are translated as present in English, but they are actually past tense.] Who is the man about whom the psalmist is writing?” There was a great pause.
“Is that man perhaps Abraham, the father of the faithful?” he asked.
An aged Jewish gentleman in the back of the group stood up and replied, “No, it could not have been Abraham, because Abraham listened to evil counsel, the counsel of his own heart, on the occasion when he lied about his wife. It couldn’t be Abraham.”
Flax said, “That is correct. Then who could it be? Could this perhaps be Moses, the giver of the Law?”
Another gentleman stood up and said, “No, it was not Moses, because Moses was a murderer. He killed an Egyptian and hid his body in the sand.”
“Quite correct,” said the evangelist. “It wasn’t Moses. Perhaps then it was David. Maybe the psalmist is writing about himself.”
“No,” said another gentleman, “it wasn’t David, because David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband Uriah killed in order to cover up the adultery. It wasn’t David.”
“Well then,” asked Mr. Flax, “about whom is the psalmist writing?”
At this point one of the men said, “I am not sure of this, and I am not ready to answer along these lines, but I have a little book here that I’ve been reading. It’s called the New Testament, and from what I read here about an outstanding man, I would be inclined to say that the man about whom the psalmist is writing is Jesus of Nazareth. He did not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers.”
At this point another man added, “Well, I have never been bold enough to say this before, but I am convinced that this is so and that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. I place my trust in him.”
When we examine this psalm (and even more importantly, when we examine ourselves in the light of this psalm) it is evident: 1) that none of us has lived in this way; and 2) that only Jesus Christ has. Therefore, if we would be like the man who does not sit in the seat of the scornful but who meditates on the law and thus prospers in all he does, we must be helped by Jesus Christ, who is the only one who has ever done those things perfectly. That is to say, we must be followers of Christ.
This is a brilliantly written psalm. In the New International Version there is a break in the middle between the first section, which speaks of a godly man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked (vv. 1–3) and the second section, which speaks about the wicked (vv. 4–6). But the psalm is written in such a way that what the psalmist has to say about each overlaps. When he writes about the godly, the man who does not do this or that, at the same time he is describing the course of the wicked. In the same way, later on when he speaks about the wicked (that he “will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous”) he is also, by contrast, speaking of the godly man, who will stand in the judgment and in the assembly of God’s people.
From the Gospels, what are some specific ways Jesus models this psalm?
What point does Dr. Boice make based on how the psalm is written?
Application: Make it a goal this week to memorize Psalm 1.