Learning God's Ways (Psalm 1)

Reference: Psalm 1, The Book of Ecclesiastes

God is a jealous god. He wants to be first in each person’s life. Not only does He want to be first, He demands it. (Exodus 20:5) He made each individual with the express purpose of serving Him and Him alone and for His glory. (Isaiah 43:6-7) His will, which is to say His word, does not come back void. (Isaiah 55:11) His jealousy and steadfast love for us to serve our purpose induces Him to use whatever means necessary to remove those things in our lives that get in the way of making Him first. (Luke 15:3-7)

This is why the things we love more than God we are destined to lose, forsake, or simply live in continual disappointment and dissatisfaction with. For nothing takes the place of God Almighty. There is no activity, occupation, relationship, or thing that can fill the void in our hearts that only God can fill. (Psalm 103:5, Ecclesiastes 1:24-25)

If we are one of the fortunate ones, as we are blessed with age we lose loved ones (one way or another), abilities (physical and cognitive), material things, looks, youth, social status, occupations, just about everything. We lose it all until we are stripped of everything and then we wait to die. This seems like a dire picture and it often is. (Ecclesiastes 5:15)

The fact is, if we’re lucky enough to get old, really old, we lose everything that defines who we are. Even what relationships remain (often with children or grandchildren) are not complete. There is no true kinship and understanding from that generation as we make the journey into that long good night.

And yet despite this Biblical wisdom, so many of us hold on tightly to our things, jobs, romances or other relationships, hobbies, social endeavors, etc., and spend most of our time and resources on those things that never truly satisfy, bring peace, and remain with us until the end. We (even twins) are born alone (singly) and even in a roomful of people, we die alone. Except there is God. Waiting until the end for us to finally put Him where He belongs, at the center of our existence.

I see men and women chasing the elusive perfect mate, perfect job, perfect house, or even the perfect appearance. They are always looking to fix or improve some aspect of their lives. I see their continual frustration over their inability to get that one thing, just that one thing that will make them feel “complete” or “happy.” I’ve also seen them finally get what they thought they wanted, only to be disappointed it wasn’t as great or fulfilling as they thought it would be.

I’ve been one of those people. If I just had a job in this field or a bigger house or a slimmer physique or a better marriage...if. Which reminds me of that definition of insanity. It states that “Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.”

How many of us have finally had that quiet moment of introspection where we say, “Hmm, nothing I’ve tried thus far has worked. Maybe I’ll give God a shot.” I’m not speaking here of becoming Believers. I mean this for those who claim belief in Christ already. “How about I let God handle this. Show me what HE wants for me. Actually put HIM in charge for a change.”

Granted, it’s a slow process. Absolute surrender of every aspect of our lives is a daunting task. Yet it’s so simple. A simple consultation, “God, should I...” “God, what do YOU say about....” “God, I think YOU handle this situation...” And doing that for everything we say or do before we say or do it. It’s a habit that takes time to develop. Yet it only develops when we do it and continue to do it each and every time we think of it.

Yet to do this requires us to finally acknowledge our place in God’s universe. We exist solely for His pleasure and purpose. We must be willing, truly willing to give up whatever is getting in the way of His will for us. Whatever is taking up our time and resources away from Him, we must give up or at the very least, put into its proper place.

Many people (both Christians and non-Christians) make statements that resemble these: “If I just had more income, my life would be better.” “If I just had more free time, my life would be better.” “If I just lived in a different area, my life would be better.” “If I just found the right person, my life would be better.” “If I just had a thinner body, my life would be better.”

I have made statements even recently that were in the same vein. However, what I’ve learned by observing others and through my own experience and many mistakes is that life doesn’t get better once we get what we think will accomplish that. There is always yet another area that needs “fixing” or “improving.” Or a whole new set of problems come with the supposed solution.

In Isaiah 55:8&9 God says that His thoughts and His ways are higher than ours. If we agree with this, we must consider what God says will make our lives better. Well we know what He has to say about money and material belongings. Even relationships or work. These are means to and end in serving Him, but they don’t fulfill us or fix us (or others). So what DOES work?

In Psalm 1 the Psalmist tells us:

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

Here we see the answer. The man (or woman) who doesn’t associate with sinners and act like they do, but who instead DELIGHTS (not just studies out of duty) in God and His ways (His laws as given to us via the Bible) is the one who is blessed. Whose life is prosperous. Of course, I believe by prospering the writer doesn’t mean merely materially. In fact, the writer may have not meant materially at all. For the Psalm ends like this:

4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Here the writer’s emphasis is what comes at the end of it all. Where those that are righteous end up versus those who are not. The writer is more concerned with where he will spend eternity - not in destruction, but alongside the righteous.

What is also important to note is that the writer of this Psalm doesn’t base an individual’s righteousness solely on behavior, doing good things all the time. The basis of righteous solely stems in not associating with those who do not pursue God and in pursuing God and knowledge of Him instead. The righteous have forsaken associating and acting like the world. The righteous are in a relationship with God and actively, constantly, and delightfully pursue knowledge of Him. That’s what defines the righteous. Are we righteous? Do we pursue God and knowledge of His ways or do we pursue what the world pursues?

So often we get focused on the here and now and how physically and emotionally comfortable, safe, and secure we are. There is little room for God, His Word, and character development (spiritual or otherwise). We aren’t concerned with growing spiritually so much as we are in having our physical and emotional needs and desires met.

Yet having our spiritual needs met and continuing to grow spiritually is the only thing guaranteed to bring real satisfaction and peace. One need only look at the headlines to see that all the fame, money, success, beauty, and power in the world doesn’t work. Think of all the rich and famous people, many of them in the prime of their lives, who have died as a result of drugs or other destructive behavior.

Money doesn’t satisfy. Youth and beauty doesn’t either. Romance isn’t enough. Success in any given field doesn’t cut it. Only knowing God and serving Him first does.

In each of our lives there is at least one area we haven’t turned over or surrendered to Him. Whether it be our jobs, finances, marriages, family, social lives, etc.. And the way to gauge it is to assess how satisfying it is. Does it cause stress and anxiety? Frustration and dissatisfaction? Do you think about that one thing more than God Himself? Whatever you think about more than God is not surrendered to Him and that which we don’t surrender becomes a god itself.

God is a jealous god. He makes sure the gods we have before Him bring us disappointment, dissatisfaction, and little peace. Only when we release it, give it over, and surrender our will (in that one matter and in all matters) to Him can we find what we truly need.

Read Psalm 1. Slowly. Pray on it. Meditate on it. Ask God to speak to You by means of His Holy Spirit as you read it and think on it. Ask for the desire to know God personally and for the delight in the process of doing so.

Your life will change. If not externally, on its interior in the deep recesses of your heart and soul. Your money problems will go away at least in the sense you finally don’t obsess over it. Your marriage problems will go away at least in the sense you trust God to work in it to bring Him glory. And so on.

May God bless you today and always as you faithfully purse Him and the knowledge of His ways!