The very first verse of the Psalms, immediately tells us that there is such a thing as “wicked.” They are those who in the things they think, say and do, follow a course of disdain of, and opposition to, God. They much prefer the counsel (wisdom), that is, the worldview and pursuits of a life without submission to God. Among all mankind there are two polar opposite heart states; enmity toward God, and love for God. The first is the natural default; the second is a supernatural creation. As if from a fountain, the way of life in the lives of every human being springs up from the heart condition and consequent counsel-of-life. The life guiding counsels sought and valued by the wicked are the antithesis of “delight in the law of the LORD,” stated in verse two. Love of the law of the LORD engenders love for the LORD Himself. Blessed, happy the Psalmist says, is the one who desires and follows the correct counsel.
In following the incorrect counsel one “stands in the way of sinners.” “Stand in the way” is a description of position, the place where life is lived. To place oneself among other sinners is the natural and comfortable desire of the sinful for community with those who are like-minded and approve of a similar lifestyle. To be in the place and company of sinners is insulation from the reproach of conscience and the convicting presence of the godly.1
To “sit in the seat of scoffers” is to sit in knee jerk reviling judgment on those who delight in the LORD, and in the LORD Himself. The natural propensity of the ungodly is to prefer spiritual darkness, to be repelled by the light.2 That is not to say that fellow God scorners are spared vilifying judgment; sin flies under many conflicting self-serving colors.
In contradistinction to the wicked is the one who takes his delight in the law of the LORD. Though he was born of the same sinful stock as the wicked, his family ties have been changed, as though he has been adopted into a new clan, and his heart has been altered along with a new identity. He is blessed (verse 1) because something has been done to him, and for him. He has been replanted (verse 3). This is a happy grace of God, the LORD Himself.
To be happy in the LORD and His law is really an effect faith, because all God-fearing people experience adverse circumstances in life. Faith is a form of seeing.3 To perceive the light of the grace, wisdom and love of God even in places of darkness and conflict, is the grace of the Holy Spirit.
And because the heart is oriented to the love of God, and communion with Him is prized, the heart muses day and night, sunshine and gloom, on God and His words. He is, after all, sovereign over all, and He is good.
- Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit. “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;” … John 16:7-9 [↩]
- “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3:18-21 [↩]
- A phrase remembered from a John Piper sermon [↩]