By the Revd Dr Peter Sanlon
‘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.’
Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)
The image of the Christian life as a journey does not originate with Pilgrim’s Progress – it is rooted in the story of Abraham leaving his homeland and so goes back to the earliest stages of our history.
The Psalter is God’s Hymn Book for the Church and is intended to form our emotional engagement with Jesus as the Davidic King and music director. Psalm 1 introduces the entire book of Psalms and does so by pronouncing a blessing on the person who refuses to journey in the counsel of the wicked. That means we refuse to set out on a course in life that God does not approve of. The counsel of the media, family, school, academia or whatever aspect of the world we connect with is shaped to set us out on a journey to the far country – away from God.
If we set out on a journey – Jonah like – away from God, in time we find ourselves standing and then sitting in the place where people mock God.
The alternative journey in life is fuelled and motivated by a delight in God’s Word. A passion and enthusiasm to hear from the God who made us and redeems us by Christ’s blood. We find our enjoyment so easily in films, technology, relationships, careers and sport. If we want to travel aright through this world, we need to allow ourselves to enjoy God’s Word. When we wake at night, worried or confused — perhaps God wants us to read His Word and pray to Him? When we are stressed and tired, perhaps the last thing we think we need to do is read our Bibles – but it is really what we need to do. Because otherwise we will be listening to advice from the scoffer.
If we are to journey in the right direction then we need to not just read God’s Word casually or superficially. We need — as Calvin warned – to not be satisfied with that ‘knowledge of God that flits around the brain.’ Rather we need to mull and chew over God’s Law to see how it applies to us, where we are on our journey.
Wherever you are today — meditate on God’s Word and enjoy His blessing.
Rev. Dr. Peter Sanlon is minister of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Tunbridge Wells: www.emmanuelanglican.uk