Readings: Jer. 17:5-10; Ps. 1:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:12-20; Luke 6:17-26.
The theme this week is Blessed by Knowing Christ. Jeremiah 17 declares that our blessings come from knowing and trusting Christ. 1 Corinthians 15 reminds us that, without Christ, we have nothing. In Luke 6, Jesus describes the blessings of knowing him. In the sermon this week from Psalm 1, we look at the identity of the blessed person.
Who’s the Blessed Person?
Introduction: Read the first couple verses of Psalm 1 and ask what people notice about this passage? What jumps out to grab their attention? What does it mean to be blessed? What other passages use the phrase, “blessed is…”
Who is this?
In some translations, Psalm 1 begins with “Blessed is the man…” Before reading further we may want to keep a question in mind. Who’s the man? It may be tempting to see “the man” in verse one as a generic person—inclusive of all people. In fact, some translations treat it as such by making it more inclusive with “Blessed is the person who….” Even the conservative English Standard Version gives a footnote here that “The singular word for man (ish) is used here to portray a representative example of a godly person.” We may never fully know who the original author had in mind, but in light of the New Testament we get a pretty good picture of WHO this Psalm is pointing to.
Let’s look at this Psalm with the perspective that the “Blessed Man” is Jesus, in whom all blessings have been poured out on humanity.
So, what does this Psalm tell us about this man?
He is different from the first man
This blessed man does not follow the pattern of the first Adam. He does not “walk in the counsel of the wicked.” He does not “stand in the way of sinners.” He does not “sit in the seat of mockers.”
These three postures serve as a progression of the fall from believing to (mis)behaving and ultimately to an allegiance or belonging to wickedness. We see this progression carried out in the Garden and we see Jesus reversing its curse in his life, death and resurrection.
Adam listened to the counsel of the wicked serpent and believed his lie. Adam behaved out of this belief by taking the forbidden fruit and ultimately hiding from God because his identity is now focused on self rather than belonging to the Father.
The Son of man, Jesus, becomes the second Adam for us as he lives his life not following this progression of the fall. He believes, he behaves according to his belief, and he completely rejects wickedness. Further, he takes the fall of the first Adam to the cross to reverse the curse.
Jesus heard the wicked counsel: recall it was a council who convened to hand Jesus over to the authorities. It was the crowd who stood and called for his crucifixion and it was the mocking (scoffing) soldiers who carried out his death. Jesus did not walk the way of this counsel, but he did submit to its wickedness. The nails through his hands and feet demonstrate his willingness—even desire—to nail the progression of the fall to the cross, thus reversing the curse and becoming the new Tree of Life bringing blessing to all.
This man delights in the law
In verse 2 we see that this second Adam “delights” in the law of the LORD. In the New Testament, we see Jesus summing up the “law of the LORD” as loving God and loving neighbor. So, this man who is blessed is a man who delights in this relationship of love toward God and love toward neighbor.
Humanity was created in the image of God therefore we were created to love. The fall in the Garden is essentially having our love turned in on ourselves. We didn’t cease being lovers but rather the focus of our love got distorted and twisted. We ceased “delighting” in being lovers of God and others and instead became lovers of self. As the apostle Paul put it in 2 Timothy 3:2-4 (ESV), “People will be lovers of self, lovers of money…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
Jesus, as the second Adam, has undone this distortion of the first Adam by recreating this “day and night” love relationship. He even referred to a “new commandment” to love others as he has loved us—with a love that is focused on the other.
This man is a tree planted
We also see that this blessed man is likened to a “tree planted by streams of water.” The writer here may have had the Garden of Eden in mind with its river and Tree of Life. Jesus is our life. In Jesus, we find that we are not self-planted creatures, but we were created for the Gardener’s delight.
We are not trees in a garden that need to be uprooted and removed. We were planted and therefore wanted. We were planted with care and given whatever we need to flourish. We have a Gardener who nourishes us, waters us, fertilizes and prunes us to bear “fruit in season.”
Whatever this man does prospers
He is the Son of the Father; he is the ransom paid; he is the Savior and Redeemer, he is the way, the truth, the life and the resurrection. He is the reconciler—as we see him hanging on the cross in death, we realize he did that to reconcile all creation back to the Father. He came for us, lived for us, died for us, rose from the grave for us, and then ascended to the Father for us and with us. Indeed, we find the “whatever he does” to have no limits.
The Psalm ends contrasting the “wicked” to this blessed man. This is not the way it is with wickedness but rather all that is against our blessing gets blown away with the wind. Only the good remains. Our judgment in Jesus does not allow for any wickedness to take a stand against us. The Father does not give the floor to the accuser. Our judgment and blessing is sealed in Jesus. Jesus is The Blessed Man.
Do you know him? Are you walking with him? Are you joining him in sharing his love and life with others? Who will you introduce to the blessed man?
Small Group Discussion Questions
- Do you feel blessed? Explain. How would you define blessed? What does it mean to be blessed?
- When we read Psalm 1 by seeing Jesus as the man who is blessed, how does this change the way we understand this Psalm?
- Jesus reverses the curse by not walking, standing or sitting in wickedness and sin. How can we participate in this reversal in our own lives?
- Why would having our love turned toward God rather than self, be a life of delight and blessing?
- What is the good news for us when the Psalm speaks of “the way of the wicked will perish?”
- Jeremiah 17:5-10 says it is a curse to trust humans, but a blessing to trust in the Lord. Put this in your own words. Is trust and confidence the same thing?
- Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-20. How would you describe the resurrection in terms of being blessed?
- In Luke 6:17-26 Jesus talks about being blessed. Pick one of these “Blessings” and explain why it means something to you