Short Meditations in Psalms: 1.1c Viewpoints
Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers
I’m never quite sure if this is a downward spiral or upward spiral. The thinking behind it being a downward spiral says that (a) when you walk with someone that is a limited encounter; (b) when you stand with someone that is a more static or lasting encounter and (c) when you sit with someone you have settled with them. The downward spiral says, well the wicked = those with wrong thoughts, sinners = those whose actions are wrong, but scoffers = those who are actively antagonistic. Wrong thoughts are bad, but wrong actions are worse, but outright mockery is attack on your faith and that is even worse.
But the truth is that you can see these things in exactly the opposite way round. Walking, other commentators say, is ongoing relational encounter that is the worst possible, because it has accepted those who are morally set against good. The first description is thus the worst. Standing, these commentators say, is a shorter, temporary encounter and sinners are those who do wrong but have not committed their lives to wrong as the wicked have. Sitting is a fairly passive action, say this school of thinking and so that is not so bad as the other two actions. Scoffers are those who challenge the truth but who don’t blatantly do wrong and certainly haven’t given their lives over to wrong. Perhaps we all try to be too clever when it comes to trying to work out what was in the psalmist’s mind. Whatever it is, we have three expressions of ungodliness and our thinking has at least warned us that wrong can be that which derides the truth, that which is seen in wrong actions and that which is a way of thinking.
For those of us who are Christians, the warning must be (a) to avoid becoming cynical and mocking of the foibles and failures of the Christian community. It should say to us, (b) watch your behaviour for actions are the outworking of a wrong mind and actions lead you on deeper into wrong ways. Don’t do anything that is questionable. But then watch your whole way of thinking to ensure that it is godly and not humanistic or materialistic. Ensure it is God-centred, not self-centred.
For us as Christians, it is quite simple: ensure your life is surrendered wholly to God and that you do not exclude Him from any part of your life. Who we are seen to be starts in the mind as a way of thinking, which develops into an attitude, and is then expressed in words or actions, and then our words and actions lead to habits. Yes, these are negative warnings and the positive will follow, but we need to heed these first