Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners…
The opening words of this Psalm furnish its title Ashrey ha-ish, "O the happiness of that man!" If ever a man pursued happiness under the most favourable conditions, it was King Solomon; yet this was his conclusion of the whole matter, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." John Trapp said quaintly, "The Psalmist hath said here more to the point respecting happiness than all the philosophers; for while they beat the bush, he hath put the bird into our hand."
I. AS TO THE CHARACTER OF THIS HAPPY MAN. "He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly." We must needs be in the world — not dreamers among the shadows, but men among men. The world has need of us. The workshop and the office demand us. The secular cares of this world are, of necessity, upon us. But the secret of true happiness is moral nonconformity. Being in the world, we should not be of it. While our associations must needs be in some measure with the ungodly, their counsels, their ways, their seats are not for us. God's people go to their offices and their workshops just like other men, but their affections are not set upon this world; they are ever mindful of their noble birth, their Divine inheritance, their glorious destiny.
II. HIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE DIVINE LAW. The "Law of the Lord" was a Jewish phrase for the Scriptures. The happy man possesses a right estimate of the importance of the Word of God.
1. He is a reader of the Scriptures. Thomas a Kempis said, "I am never so happy as when in a nook with the Book."
2. He reads "with delight." We are much given in these times to a critical study of the Word. The way to appreciate the beauty of Murillo's picture of the Immaculate Conception is not to approach it with spatula and ammonia for purposes of minute analysis, but to gaze upon it until we are filled with the mighty thoughts that went surging through the soul of the master genius who painted it.
3. He meditates in them. St. renders the word "chattereth." So in these spring days we hear the sparrows chattering with their hearts full of the prophecy of bloom and fruitfulness. So glad and happy are the souls that meditate with delight in the Divine law.
III. THE OUTCOME OF THIS HAPPY LIFE. Fruitfulness. "Like a tree." This life is rooted well. Its leaf shall not wither. The leaf shows the character of the tree. The man whose soul is full of truth and righteousness need not be saying perpetually, "I am a Christian," for his walk and conversation declare it. He bringeth forth fruit in his season. We shall be ever doing good as we have opportunity. There is an obverse to this picture. "The ungodly are not so."
1. As to his life — it is chaff. There is no profit in it.
2. As to his death — it is like a furrow in the sea.
3. After death, he shall "not stand in judgment." Most of us have been disappointed in our pursuit of happiness. There is, however, a right way and a sure way to pursue it.
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.