Encountering God Bible Study Chapter 2
Hey Sparkles! Happy Wednesday! For today’s Wednesday Wisdom post, I am writing about chapter 2 of Encountering God: A Study in Psalms. If you’re new here, this is the devotional book that I am going through on Wednesdays this summer. It teaches you how to encounter God.
Chapter 2 of Encountering God: A Study in Psalms is all about Psalm 1.
Psalm 1 – Discovering True Happiness
Psalm 1 serves as an introduction to the entire book. What is said in Psalm 1 is relevant to all the rest of the book of Psalms.
The Psalms begin with these words: “Blessed is the man.” In Psalm 1, God addresses man’s most basic question: How can I be happy (blessed) in this life?
The word translated blessed is plural in the original Hebrew. That is, it means perpetual blessings. It can be read blessednesses or happiness.
Psalm 1 is called a wisdom psalm because we learn that happiness results from our choice to follow God’s direction of life. In this Psalm, the writer sets forth two ways or two directions in life. One is the right way that leads to happiness, and the other is the wrong way that leads to misery. We will talk about them both today.
The Right Way
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalms 1:1-3
Psalm 1 captures fundamental teaching found in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament God teaches His people that one’s choice will determine both the direction and the outcome of your life.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19
In the New Testament, Jesus’ message to the crowds is to choose the right way in life:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
Choosing the Right Way
First, in Psalm 1:1 we learn that happiness comes by choosing to walk on a righteous path. This determination is directly connected to other people. Each line in this verse tells us to avoid the wrong kind of interpersonal relationships. Your friends make all the difference in your life.
Notice what the verse says.”Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.” Choosing the righteous path includes refusing advice from those who hold godless values and whose moral choices violate the laws of God.
The second line goes a bit further: “nor standeth in the way of sinners..” It is one thing to listen to wicked counsel. It is another to decisively side with that viewpoint. Instead, the happy person refuses to follow the worldly crowd. You don’t see him “hanging out” with those who pursue sin as a lifestyle.
Finally, he refuses to sit and associate with those whose conversations mock and curse God: “nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” If you want to be miserable, make your best friends those who are critical, scornful, and disrespectful.
There are three verbs here – walk, sit, and stand. This shows the descending slope of evil. A pattern of evil choices causes a downward spiral in character that leads to destruction.
Hungering for God’s Word
The next statement in Psalm 1 is that happiness comes from having a strong appetite for the word of God. We learn to enjoy the Bible by nurturing the disciplined habit of meditation.
Meditation involves a 24/7 – “day and night” – focus on the Scripture. Not only do we need to seek to understand the meaning of the Scripture, but we also need to understand how it applies to us personally.
In some contexts, the word meditate means to growl or groan or moan. This is the idea of muttering or talking to yourself. God blesses us as we mull over His words day and night.
The reason this way of life makes one so happy is that it fulfills our created purpose. The first commandment God gave humankind was to “be fruitful” (Genesis 1:28). Fruit bearing is the result of deep roots finding an abundant supply of nourishment from underground streams of water. God’s Word is an all-sufficient, eternal supply of empowering grace for all of life.
A fruitful life is a blessed life. So David states that God’s way to happiness is being separated from the world, saturated with the Word, and fruitful and successful in doing God’s will.
The Wrong Way
“The wicked are not so but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalms 1:4-6
These three verses show us that ungodliness will never prosper.
At the end of the passage, the psalmist sets forth two directions – the way of the righteous and the way of the ungodly. Which will you choose?
Well, that’s all for today, Sparkles. If you want to buy a copy of Encountering God: A Study in Psalms so you can follow along, you can do so here. If you haven’t read the devotional on chapter 1, you can read it here. By the way, could you tell me in the comments if you are liking Encountering God: A Study in Psalms? Thanks for reading, and Sparkles away.