Psalm 1 is a beautiful beginning for starting a book entirely dedicated to prayer. This prayer is two-fold in the areas of righteousness versus wickedness and in how we pray this in our individual worship and our corporate worship.
Immediately, Psalm 1 sets the contrast between the ways of the wicked and the ways of the righteous and invites the one who reads and prays to be aware of which path they will choose to take in their daily living and response.
What is wickedness in this Psalm? What patterns of wickedness are evident and how do we encounter wickedness in our daily lives? I think this is a complex answer.
Wickedness is a characteristic found in people who have a blatant disrespect and disregard for God’s values and direction and is associated with “sinners” or those who do not know or follow The Lord. When one lives in wicked patterns the “rules” adjust to fit personal goals, agendas and needs and it does not matter who is hurt or overlooked in the process of accomplishing the outcome. The culture in which Christ-followers find themselves is an ever-high tightrope of which one must discern the right and faithful decision instead of giving into temptation and succumbing to wicked living. However, living in patterns of wickedness comes with a cost of living a directionless life that pursues one’s personal happiness and fleeting pleasures over that of God’s desires for one’s life. When one pursues something other than what God desires, it will fail every single time.
While absolutely none of this is surprising, it also does not mean that wickedness cannot be defeated or wicked patterns cannot be transformed. There is deep Hope and Goodness in God’s invitation in Psalm 1 for living righteously.
The invitation to a life of fruitfulness and happiness in the Lord is to live in the pattern of righteousness and the root of righteous living that produces good spiritual fruit is to delight in the law of the Lord by making it the focus of one’s life. When this is the primary focus, there is little time for wickedness to take root in life and to derail one from God’s path.
To be as a tree planted by streams of water is to live a life intentionally planted, rooted and nourished by the Living Water. When one intentionally plants in the ways of living for the Lord, the wisdom, direction and discernment of navigating challenges becomes more of a secure and stable feeling than that of teetering on a high tightrope.
How we live individually matters. How we live and worship in our corporate communities of faith matters and our commitment both individually and corporately to make the law of the Lord our priority and focus will produce the fruitful abundance and prosperity of God’s goodness in everything we do.
When we seek to honor and glorify God by seeking to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves; when everything we do is out of the deep desire to model God’s love and we are obedient to God’s direction; then we will prosper in all that we do because it honors God.
In our current cultural climate, it is easy to think that wickedness will win. People are continually at one another’s throats and it is an ugly world around us. The works of those doing wicked things will not last and even if there is a season where it looks that that will be the outcome, the Righteousness of the Lord will always prevail. Wickedness has no strong or firm foundation because it is not of God.
As the Lord’s followers, we must be committed not to despair but to hope. We possess the gift of Stubborn Hope that God’s Law will always prevail and that law is Love. When we are committed to living in the obedience and patterns of love, the things around us that discouraged, distracted and destroyed will start to change and the beautiful, luscious, juicy Fruit of the Spirit will show up in beautiful abundance and completely transform the barrenness we have experienced because of wickedness.
This Psalm is an invitation of Good News that Fruitful, Righteous living is available to us and we have the opportunity and responsibility in our individual and corporate worship to bring about beautiful fruit.
Amen and Amen.