Sermon Title: The Lord’s Righteous
Sermon Text: Psalm 1
Memory Verse: Psalm 1:6
MAIN IDEA: Worship the Lord for His provision of righteousness.
The Lord Provides His Law for His Righteous
The Lord Provides His Blessing for His Righteous
The Lord Provides His Judgment for His Righteous
NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." This manuscript is provided as a courtesy and is not intended for publication. The audio and video message differs from the manuscript. Thanks for understanding.
Psalm 1 serves as a beautiful introduction to The Psalms. It is filled with sweeping theological themes. It speaks of wickedness and righteousness, judgment, perseverance, bearing fruit, God’s knowledge of the ways of men, and continual delighting in the law of the Lord.
The psalm tells us of the contrast between two categories of people; the righteous and the wicked. The righteous delight in the law of the Lord and the wicked do not. The righteous yield fruit and the wicked are worthless. The righteous are blessed eternally and the wicked face destruction.
It is entirely possible to read this psalm as a formula for a blessing.
- Step one: Do not associate with the wicked.
- Step two: Meditate on the law of the Lord.
- Step three: Delight in doing what the law says.
After doing these steps, God is pleased, and He will bestow His blessings.
If this is how we understand Psalm 1, we will miss much of the true meaning. Psalm 1 is not about how to make ourselves righteous; it is about how God cares for those who He
Worship the Lord for His provision of righteousness.
The first point is:
The Lord ’s Law For His Righteous
Verse 1 and 2 of Psalm 1 tell us that the difference between the righteous and the wicked is that the righteous man is blessed
because his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law, he meditates day and night. What separates the righteous and the wicked is that the righteous are given the law. The Lord provides the law.
The psalm begins with, “how blessed is the man.” To be blessed is to be happy. The source of his happiness is the Lord God. He is blessed because he has something that other people do not have, he has the law of the Lord.
The law of the Lord is given to the righteous, they read it, meditate on it day and night, and in doing this, they find delight. They read the words of the law and their soul leaps for joy. They are blessed.
The wicked, sinner, and the scoffer are not blessed because they do not have the law of the Lord. They are blind to the law. They seek joy and happiness, but they look in the wrong places. They do not have eyes to see where blessings are found. Their only companion in their search for happiness is one another. They seek to find happiness in the fleeting pleasures of sin. Their eyes are looking to the world, and they are not looking to the heavens. They do not know their search for joy leads to destruction. They are the blind leading the blind.
Those who are blessed know where their joy is found. It is not because they are more clever, or better people that they are blessed. The reason they are blessed is that the Lord gives them His law; without the law, they are no different than others. The blessed look at the law and see, “There, but the grace of God, go I.” Without the law, they are the companion of the wicked, they walk where they walk, stand where they stand, and sit where they sit. Without the law of the Lord, they too are a scoffer, a sinner, and a wicked person.
The blessed person’s flesh does not understand the law. Without God’s Spirit, the law of the Lord is foolishness to them (1 Cor. 1:18-31). The natural person may have the law in front of them, pages open, and they are not wise enough to know the law is good. The law is written by God’s Spirit, and the blessed person knows his flesh does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they appear as foolishness (1 Cor. 2:14). The blessed look into the law and know that they are blind to the law of the Lord unless the Lord opens their eyes. The blessed gives all the praise and glory to the Lord for the gift of the Law and for opening their eyes to know good from evil and to desire good.
As the righteous meditate on the law day and night, what do they see? Do they see the path of righteousness? Does meditating on the law make them righteous so that God will bless them?
No. Righteousness is not attained by the law. If the law is what makes a person righteous, why does the New Testament say we no longer live under the Law, but we are released from the law, and we now live under grace (Ro. 6:14; 7:6)?
Nobody is made righteous by the law. The law reveals our sin. The more we read the law, the more our sin is revealed. We do not know sin, except through the law. In some instances, the law brings the sin to the surface. Sin hears the law, takes the opportunity, and leads to deception (Ro. 7:7-12).
The New Testament helps us understand how we are to view the law. One of the foremost experts on the law, the Apostle Paul, teaches us how we are to understand the law. He tells us the law is given, not to impart life, but to shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Ga. 3:22). In other words, the law is given so we may know no one is innocent before God. Therefore, the promises and blessings of God do not come from obeying the law, but by putting faith in Christ for salvation. All the promises and blessings of God have their yes in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20).
The Apostle Paul says that righteousness does not come by the law. For if a law is given which is able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed be based on the law (Ga. 3:21). The purpose of the law is not to make us righteous, but the purpose of the law is that it is “our tutor to lead us
to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Ga. 3:24).
The blessed take no credit for their righteousness. They do not look at the law of the Lord and meditate on how they may do what is right. God gives the blessed person the law so that they may see their sin and their need for a Savior. The blessed are humbled before their Creator. The more they look into the law, the more they see their need for grace and forgiveness from the Lord.
As they meditate on the law, they see God’s holy standard of perfection. They see God’s standard of righteousness and holiness far exceeds their own. They know that if they fail one part of the law, they fail it all (Ja. 2:10). Keeping the law is an impossibility. Those who rightly meditate on the law do not look at the law as a Pharisee and use it to compare themselves to others. They do not measure their righteousness against other people, but the God is their standard. The law reveals how they fall short of the glory of God. In this, they are deeply grieved. There is no delight in meditating on a law which is impossible to keep.
The law reveals condemnation, but the law also reveals salvation. It is in the provision of the law for forgiveness that they delight. The blessed see that in the law, God provides a way of salvation. There is atonement and forgiveness in the law. God provides forgiveness and mercy with the blood of a lamb. The blessed love the Lord for providing forgiveness of sin.
As they meditate on the price of forgiveness, a blood sacrifice, they develop a distaste for wickedness. They love the Lord, and they know the One they love hates wickedness, so they learn to hate what the Lord hates. The law changes their heart so that they no longer find joy in evil vices but they delight in the beauty and value of God’s holiness. The blessed look at the law and see that Christ the Messiah is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Ro. 10:4). They delight in knowing the Messiah frees them from the law (Ro. 8:2).
The blessed of Psalm 1 are blessed because God gives them the law, God opens their eyes to see the holy perfection of the Lord and how the path of the sinner, scoffer, and the wicked leads to destruction. The law opens their eyes to their sin and their need for a Savior. They delight in the law because it reveals God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness through blood sacrifice.
The Lord gives the blessed His law. They place their faith in Christ, who is the fulfillment of the law. They know they may not fulfill the law, but Christ does, and He makes them righteous. How blessed are those who delight in the law of the Lord!
The psalmist continues by telling us how the Lord blesses those who delight in His law.
The Lord Blesses His Righteous
For us to understand why God blesses those who delight in the law of the Lord, we need to understand God’s will and plan for all things. Everything God is doing is aimed at the glorification of Jesus Christ. God is highly exalting Jesus and lifting Him up as the King of kings and Lord of lords. All things are being put under the feet of Christ for He is perfect, just, and loving. He alone is worthy of our praise and adoration. In Christ, we find unfathomable, infinite, and all-satisfying riches.
The law of the Lord speaks of the glories of Jesus Christ. Jesus is worthy of our praise because He obeys the law perfectly. Jesus is the sacrifice of which the law speaks. Jesus is the worthy high-priest of the law. The aim (telos) and goal of the law is Jesus Christ. Therefore, the man who delights in the law of the Lord delights in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the law. Those who delight in the law do not find joy in the do’s and don’ts of the law, but they delight in knowing that the Messiah of the law makes them righteous. The perfection of Christ’s obedient sacrifice is delightful to behold.
Because they delight in Christ, and the righteousness found in Him alone, God plants them, so they are like a strong tree. The psalmist says, “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
Trees do not plant themselves nor do they water themselves. God plants the tree, and God brings the water. Because they meditate on the law, and delight in the law, God brings prosperity. God does this for the glory of His Son. God proves that the unfathomable riches of Christ are fully satisfying.
Because those who meditate on the law do not look to themselves for righteousness, they humble themselves before the Lord and beg for mercy. Those who humble themselves before the Lord, the Lord exalts and raises up. The fruit they produce is the fruit which comes from a heart of humility. They are a tree filled with the fruit of repentance. They bear the fruit of joy because of their salvation. They bear the fruit of comfort and peace because they know Christ makes them righteous before a holy God.
The blessed persevere through trials, their leaf does not wither. Their strength is not in themselves but their Savior. They are unfazed by the coldness of poverty, and they remain humble in the warmness of riches. No matter the circumstance, the blessed are planted firm.
The violent storms of life do not change the blessed because their roots go deep into the soil of God’s holiness, forgiveness, and grace. Serious illness may befall, but the blessed do not wither, the hope they place in their Savior nourishes their soul. Their friends may betray them, the scoffers scoff and the mockers mock, but they continue to prosper and delight in the law.
The roots of the righteous go deep into the law, but the wicked are not so, they have no roots. The psalm says they are like chaff which the wind drives away. The chaff is the useless part of the grain. It has no value and is thrown away. God sends the wind, and it is His wind which separates the chaff from the grain.
The wicked have no anchor of hope in the law. They have no nourishment from the riches of Christ’s mercy. They have no commands from the law to fence in their lust and pride. They have no delight in holiness. They are left to their own devices and the slightest breeze carries them away.
The Lord gives His law to His righteous. The Lord firmly plants and prospers His righteous. And, the Lord knows His righteous.
The Lord Knows His Righteous
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Ps. 1:5-6)
The Lord is the judge of all people. The standard of His judgment is His law. Those who are guilty of any one command fall short of the entire law and are found guilty. Those who gossip are found guilty. Gluttons are guilty. Thieves and liars are guilty. All who are unthankful and do not worship God as Creator are guilty.
The Lord has a place of rest; it is the house of the Lord. In this psalm, it is called the assembly of the righteous. It is the Lord’s dwelling place which He prepares. In that place, no evil may dwell, but only the righteous. The guilty will not enter the gates of His holy city. Those who are guilty are the ones who do not put their faith in Christ. They think they are righteous, but their pride brings condemnation. They appear as whitewashed tombs on the outside, but they are dead inside. They will not stand in the judgment. They fall away before the throne of God because they do not meet God’s standard of holiness.
The wicked do not delight in the law of the Lord. They have no righteousness to allow them into the assembly of the righteous. The law is their condemnation.
But, the Lord knows the way of the righteous. The way of the righteous is attained by having a complete dependence upon Christ. The Lord knows the way of the righteous because the Lord knows His Beloved Son, the Righteous One. Before the foundation of the world, God determined for Jesus to be the righteousness of men. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus alone brings people into the assembly of the righteous.
The righteous stand
before the throne of God and cry out for mercy. They say to the Judge; I am guilty and worthy of condemnation. I know You hate evil. I read Your holy law, and I am guilty. I do not stand here because of my obedience to the law. I am a transgressor. I am filled with iniquity and sin. I stand here because my Savior redeemed me from the law when He nailed it to the tree. I am not righteous, but my Savior is righteous. Jesus Christ is my sanctification. I am washed in His blood. My faith is in His righteousness and not my own.
God is their fortress. God forever provides safety, joy, and comfort because His judgement includes removing evil from the presence of the righteous. He removes evil as far as the east is from the west. The wicked, scoffer, and sinner will no longer threaten the righteous, for they are judged before a holy God. The judgment of God provides eternal peace and security. The Lord blesses His righteous with His judgment.
We give glory to Him who is able to make us stand in the presence of the throne holy, blameless and above reproach (Col. 1:22; Jude 1:24-25).
Worship the Lord for His provision of righteousness.
God provides His law. God reveals His standard of perfection. God reveals that all people fall short and are found guilty and are worthy of condemnation. And, in His law, God reveals that He gives us His Son as the atonement for breaking His law. We do not make ourselves righteous. But, we delight in Christ who does.
The emphasis of this psalm is that the pathway of righteousness is Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The righteous meditate on the law of the Lord and delight in the merciful salvation it provides. In understanding this, we may not overlook the truth that God’s righteous people are not to keep companion with the wicked. It is not enough to meditate on the law of the Lord. We must be doers of the law and not hearers only. We do not serve the law of the Lord while allowing the wicked to be an influence in our life.
We must be careful. Our enemy will seduce us into walking, then standing, then sitting in the counsel of the wicked. It is a slippery slope. When we meditate on the law, and we delight in its precepts, we delight in obedience. In doing this, we realize we will never obey the law fully. We always carry around our flesh. But, we are to put to death the deeds of the flesh continually. When we sin, we need to confess our sin and ask for forgiveness. God is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
While we look to the law and seek to obey it, we need to be careful not to understand this psalm as being a teaching on delighting in obedience, and, if we do, God will bless us. The psalm is not simply saying don’t hang out with sinners, meditate on the law, and delight in doing what the law says. Do that, and we will prosper and bear fruit. We must be careful to have a balance. We are to be holy, but, in doing so, we are not to make Christianity a religion of laws (don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t have abortions, don’t be immoral, don’t have sex outside of marriage, go to church, read your Bible, do, don’t do, do, don’t etc.) Christianity is not about keeping a set of laws. Christianity is the proclamation of the good news of forgiveness and mercy for those who are unable to keep the law. Christianity is about being freed from the law so that, by grace, we may be holy in Christ.
We are not made righteous because we meditate on the law. Grace frees us from the law so we may live by the Spirit and glorify God. We are made righteous because of our faith in the completed work of Christ. Nobody is saved by keeping the law. The law points to Christ. As we share the gospel with people, let’s remember what makes us righteous. The law does not make us righteous. It is right and good to talk about the law, but the law is not the pathway to heaven. The law is the standard which reveals our condemnation. Our goal in sharing the gospel is to bring people to see their need for a Savior. Christ is the goal of the law. He is the way to be righteous.
Worship the Lord for His provision of righteousness.