Why do people shy away from making character judgments? In many cases it is because no one wants to be considered judgmental or biased. But this is not so in the Bible. The Wisdom literature of the Old Testament has a clearly defined description of a godly man (or woman) and has no problem distinguishing between the godly and ungodly by those terms and labeling them accordingly. Psalm 1 describes a godly person as one who “meditates” (literally chews and digests) on the Word of God, that is, the Law. As the godly man becomes intimately attuned to God’s teachings, his life is blessed. He is fruitful and secure. For example, the word “streams” (vs. 3) in Hebrew means canals or channels of water, depicting a garden which is cultivated, not left to the whims of nature. The godly man is secure because his life is cultivated by God’s Word. The godly man knows God and God knows him because his thoughts and actions are tended by God. And this is true for the godly woman as well.
It doesn’t take any stretch of the imagination to see that Jesus was the ideal of the righteous man described in Psalm 1. He was so in tune with the Law, He fulfilled every aspect of it (Mt. 5:17-18). Jesus made it clear that He has come to do the will of the Father (Jn. 6:38-39; Mt. 26:39). He not only did this out of love and obedience to His Heavenly Father, but also to demonstrate to us the life God demands of His children. Jesus did not change the intent of God’s Law. He demonstrated what the Law looked like when it was lived to its fullest. In fact, the Apostle John states in 1 John 2:3-6, if we truly love and know Him, we will follow God’s commands just as Jesus did.
The extent to which we live by and follow God’s commands, demonstrates our understanding of the way of the righteous. But we do not need to find ourselves at the mercy of a wall of confusing road signs like the forlorn couple in my old photograph. We have God’s instructions right at our fingertips through His Word. And we can see how obedience to the Word will look by following Jesus. If you read through Psalm 1 carefully you will notice a progression in the words walking, standing, and sitting as well as counsel, seat and way. These words show us a growing level of intimacy and the exchange of thoughts and ideas. The godly man directs these towards God; the ungodly towards those who mock Him. The emphasis in the godly life is on the Law; not just knowing it, but doing it because we love God. Jesus understood this and was obedient to His Father’s will, even to the point of death (Phil. 2:8).
I have taken many trips to unknown places as a "Soccer Mom". Setting out for tournaments and matches was always an adventure in the days before GPS and cell phones. But I always had printed directions and a map. Without them my chances of finding our destination and arriving on time would have been questionable. I always read the directions and studied the map first. Sometimes I’d read them more than once and although GPS has made finding your destination much easier, I still prefer looking at a map! The point is always to familiarize myself with the directions so that I won’t have to worry about them while I am driving.
God’s directions are always clear and direct unlike that massive wall of highway signs encountered by that hapless couple. If you are truly meditating on them as the words of Psalm 1 indicate and moving along the path described by its actions (walking, standing, sitting) there will be no question on the route your life should take. This is the result of the meditations of the godly man/woman. Christ is the fullest expression of its practice. First John 2:3-6 then becomes our life’s ultimate mile marker. As we meditate on and follow God’s Word we will be able to recognize when we are traveling along the Right Way or veering off track.
Ann LeFevre, M. Div.
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