Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners…
Like the Sermon on the Mount, this description of the way of the righteous begins with a "blessed." Those who go down into the busy streets day by day are in constant contact with those who are without God in the world. Not necessarily bad men in the common phrase, but possibly high-minded, free-hearted, companion. able men, who yet have left God out of their lives. They do nothing to please Him. A part of the testing of our characters comes out in the fact that we do not always know we are walking in the counsel of the ungodly when we are really doing so. It is a hard tiring not to adopt the way in which people around us look at things, and the way of looking at things accounts in large measure for what we do. An atmosphere, intangible and still real, is thrown around all characters, and the moment we come into this atmosphere it affects us. If it is the atmosphere of prayer, and faith, and high endeavour, we feel without realising it, even when nothing is said to show the trend of thought. "Nor standeth in the way of sinners." We note the advance in wrong. "Sinners" is a stronger characterisation of bad associates than the phrase "ungodly," and "standing" is a more thorough committal to them than "walking." It implies more deliberation. Naturally, he who stands with sinners and gives his leisure to their friendship is fast reaching the day when he will sit with the scorners. What makes the scorner the worst case to reform? It is because a radical change has come over him, and evil has become his good. Embittered against the way which he has lost, he makes virtue a mockery. One who is in daily association with evil may not realise the loss he is meeting, may not see the bloom fade from the ripe peach, or from the hanging cluster of grapes, but the scorner is in a hell of his own. He has lost the childhood of the heart to which he must come back before he can see and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Coming to the positive marks of the way of the righteous, we find that he delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates upon it day and night. This marks a high and almost perfect stage of moral attainment, and creates a certain loveableness in its possessor which a mere determination to do right never can do. We love those who love to do right and sing in the ways of the Lord, whose moral movements are not the working of bands and pulleys, but the curves of the bird in the free air or the bending of the tender grasses under the breeze. Effort pains us, but ease charms us. What a rare and wonderful thing it is to find joy in a rule — the law of God. We must get the law into the heart and say it without thinking, and live it by a second nature. And never since the Bible was given to men has there been so much study upon its form and details. Is there a corresponding "meditation" upon it? Meditation is to thought and study what autumn is to summer — the ripe fruitage of past toil.
(E. N. Packard.)
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.