In this article I would like to take a look at the differences between the righteous (right with God) man and the unrighteous (not right with God) man. They are totally different people with totally different outcomes in life even though they may occupy the same space on this earth (they may work at the same job, partake of some of the same recreational activities, even attend the same church). As the Bible explains very clearly, God looks at the heart of man instead of the external appearance, or in other words, the way things seem to be. People are good at wearing masks to cover up what is truly in their hearts (even though what is there will become obvious to all eventually). Therefore, we need to turn to the Word of God in order to see the differences between these two types of people instead of only looking at the way things seem to be to us. The psalmist pens a great, short psalm in Psalm 1. Let’s read together and see what we can learn about the two different kinds of people that surround us on a daily basis. We will also discover what kind of people we are as well.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers ! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither ; And in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.
The best way to understand this Psalm is to see the main idea of the author. Throughout the text we see the author using the literary method of comparison and contrasting to show the two lifestyles in order to teach the main truth. Let’s take the order that the author does in explaining who is who. First of all, the righteous man is blessed in his life. In our modern culture we ted to think that being blessed means being healthy, having a nice family, having a nice job with money to spend. These are all good things that we would like to have but being blessed does not depend on these things. The word blessed literally means “content” from the original Hebrew language. If you are a student of the Bible then you know that being content in life does not depend on things. The Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Philippian church, explained that fact when he said:
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity ; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
As you see, being content does not depend on things or lack of things. The true key to happiness or blessedness or being content is having a real relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, or in other words, being a righteous person. The question is, can you be born right with God or do you become right with God. The Bible once again teaches that no one is born righteous (right with God) that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standards and therefore we must become right with God through Jesus Christ. If you think that you were born right with God, or in other words a Christian, then you need to rethink your understanding because God says that you were born unrighteous and need to become right with Him.
The second characteristic of a righteous man is that he does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. The word walk here means “manner of life or way of life, lifestyle” so when he hears bad advice from a wicked person he does not follow it. This does not mean that he avoids wicked people. He may work with them yet when he hears their advice he is discerning and does not follow their misleading advice. In fact, it would be good for him to be around the wicked so that he can explain to them why their advice is bad and teach them how to give good counsel. The question is, “how does he know which is bad counsel and good counsel?” That is a great question and we will learn what gives him this wisdom in just a moment. What about you, do you give and follow wicked counsel? Do you know how to tell the difference between good advice and bad? If not, then hang in there because we are about to learn the difference.
The next two characteristics go along with the previous one. He does not stand in the path of sinners. Again, this does not mean that he avoids sinners all together. This means that he is not on the same lifestyle path that they are on, even if they do occupy the same space, like at work. He knows the difference between a wicked and righteous lifestyle and does not stand in the path of evil. He did stand in the path of sinners before he became right with God but now, since he has been transformed, chooses to stand in another path of life. Also, he does not sit in the seat of scoffers. Scoffers are those who pick on and put others down through their words in order to make themselves look better. The righteous man knows that this way of life is destructive. In fact the Bible says that the power of life and death lie in the tongue. We have the power to give life with our tongues (build people up) as well as take life (tear people down). What do you do with your tongue? Do you build people up or are you an expert and cutting people to pieces with your tongue (mouth)?
The fifth characteristic of a righteous man is the fact that he delights in the Law of the Lord (the Word of God/Bible). The word delight means to find pleasure in, to enjoy. Do you enjoy the Word of God, find delight and pleasure in studying the Holy Scriptures? The righteous man finds so much pleasure in the Word of God that he meditates on It day and night. Is it possible to meditate on the Word of God day and night? Yes, especially when you understand what the word “meditate” means. The word “meditate” does not mean to chant, instead it has a three part meaning; to study, to ponder, and to talk. Is is possible to study the Word daily? Yes. Is it possible to ponder on what you studied? Yes. When you have spent your time studying and pondering on a subject then your natural reaction is to talk about what is on your mind with others. So the daily life of a righteous man is directed by the Word of God. This is how the righteous man knows what the advice of the wicked is and what their lifestyle looks like so that he can avoid those paths. This is the wisdom that we need for daily life. How much time do you spend studying, pondering on, and talking about the Word of God on a daily basis? If you were to examine your lifestyle now, which person do you seem to associate more with? Is there hope for you? Yes, God is in the business of transformation if you will humbly come to Him and dedicate your life to following Him.
I would like to end this article here and I will continue with the results of a righteous man in the next article. I hope that the Word of God has spoken to your heart through this message and you will choose to come to Him and dedicate yourself to Him and to His Word on a daily basis. God bless.