Devotional: Psalm 1

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.
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. (Psalm 1, ESV)

“Out of the furnaces of war come many true stories of sacrificial friendship. One such story tells of two friends in World War I, who were inseparable. They had enlisted together, trained together, were shipped overseas together, and fought side-by-side in the trenches. During an attack, one of the men was critically wounded in a field filled with barbed wire obstacles, and he was unable to crawl back to his foxhole. The entire area was under a withering enemy crossfire, and it was suicidal to try to reach him, Yet his friend decided to try. Before he could get out of his own trench, his sergeant yanked him back inside and ordered him not to go. “It’s too late. You can’t do him any good, and you’ll only get yourself killed.”

A few minutes later, the officer turned his back, and instantly the man was gone after his friend. A few minutes later, he staggered back, mortally wounded, with his friend, now dead, in his arms. The sergeant was both angry and deeply moved. “What a waste,” he blurted out. “He’s dead and you’re dying. It just wasn’t worth it.”

With almost his last breath, the dying man replied, “Oh yes, it was, Sarge. When I got to him, the only thing he said was, “I knew you’d come, Jim!”

One of the true marks of a friend is that he is there when there is every reason for him not to be, when to be there is sacrificially costly. As Proverbs 17:17 puts it, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Gary Inrig, Quality Friendship)

Friendship, that is, true friends, is a great privilege in this life.  Everyone knows the importance of having friends. Everyone knows that need in times of despair, struggle, and heartache. Everyone knows the joy of passing on good news to a close confidant and rejoicing together regarding the news. God, in his sovereign good pleasure, created that need in us when he made us in his image. We need friends. WE must have them to navigate this life.

Yet, we must be careful to choose friends of a godly character. One of the problems with this need is that we sometimes choose friends who are not helpful to us. Their bad morals corrupt ours, leading us in the wrong direction. Psalm 1 gives us guidance in this area. In this Psalm, the writer describes two kinds of people: the wicked and the righteous. There are some obvious marks of the righteous. Let’s briefly review them.

First, the righteous person does not seek friendship with the wicked (Psa. 1:1), which prompts the question: “Who are the wicked?” The Psalm itself gives us the answer when we compare the behavior of the righteous with that of the wicked. Notice that the righteous person loves God’s word. Therefore, the wicked hate it and have no regard for it. The wicked do not consider the law of God.  It is important, therefore, that the righteous person evaluate carefully those they call friends determining them under the umbrella of the Word of God.

Second, the righteous person is interested in the ultimate friendship: God himself. The psalmist frames this in Psa. 1:2 when he writes, “his delight is in the law of the LORD.” It is impossible to displease the Lord when you find delight in what he wrote in his holy Word. Any person who loves the law of God will find favor with him. The law reflects the very nature of God, and when someone loves what God loves, they find a blessing from the throne of God.

Third, the righteous person establishes his close friendships by the Word of God. Many of us have friends who are unbelievers. In some sense, that is difficult to avoid. We have friends at work, in the marketplace, and in our families. It is important to understand that there are differing levels of friendship. If you desire to love God and find a blessing from him, it is important to not seek counsel from unbelievers, the wicked (1:1). Note the progression that the Psalmist describes: the blessed man does not walk, stand, and sit in the counsel, way, or seat of wicked, sinful, scoffing people. As we learn to sharpen our discernment skills, we quickly learn the way of the wicked and understand the danger they present to our Christian life. Therefore, a righteous person does not hold close friendships with the scoffers of this world. To do so leads to destruction.

Friendships are important—indeed, they are vital. They are a huge blessing in times of struggle or joy. Choose your friends wisely, and you will have great joy.

 

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