Psalm 1 contrasts the way of the righteous and the wicked. The righteous one is “blessed” and “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Psa. 1:1, 3a).1 The blessed prosper in all that they do (Psa. 1:3b-4), whereas the wicked are “like chaff that the wind drives away” (Psa. 1:4). They ultimately fail. “The wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psa. 1:5)
We are also told that the one who is blessed “walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” (Psa. 1:1). Here the action words “walk,” “stand” and “sit” indicate the conformity to evil ways.
To walk with wicked, stand with the sinners, and sit with the scoffers “show three aspects, indeed three degrees, of departure from God, by portraying conformity to this world at three different levels: accepting its advice, being party to its ways, and adopting the most fatal of its attitudes — for the scoffers, if not the most scandalous of sinners, are the farthest from repentance (Pr. 3:34).”2
The journey from the presence of God then begins with embracing bad advice from the wicked. The fallen then stand up and defend the way of the wicked. Things get topsy-turvy. God and people of God are actually made out to be the morally defective ones. All this gets them a place at the table of the scoffers. Incorrigible and arrogant the scoffer despises instruction from the Lord (Prov. 15:12; 21:24). Nevertheless, there is an expiration date for fallen people. “The way of the wicked will perish” (Psa. 1:6).
Now, the blessed man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psa. 1:2). Our condition of being blessed begins in the position of receiving. It is the pleasure of studying and contemplating the truths of the Scriptures that we come to be blessed. Similarly, the prophet Jeremiah says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jer. 17:7-8). The person who trusts or depends upon the divine source of life enters into that state of being blessed. This too is being in a place of receiving God’s grace. Like a stream providing a dependable supply of water, God is the source of eternal life. Just as a fruit tree planted in a well-watered garden and properly tended over will produce a harvest in due season, the Heavenly Father looks after His own children, who are being daily transformed into people of godly perfection well-suited to dwell in the glorious world to come.
To walk with wicked, stand with sinners, and sit with scoffers signify the departure from a right relationship with God. Reuniting with God goes in the opposite direction. Christians are taught that they sit in the heavenlies, and the fact that they are seated in the heavenlies is foundational to their walk with God and their stand against the powers of darkness.
Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians tells us: “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-6). The apostle also states that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Christians are then beckoned to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1). Moreover, the apostle calls the Christian to: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Eph. 6:11-13).
Watchman Nee in Sit, Stand, Walk observes that “of all Paul’s epistles, it is Ephesians that we find the highest spiritual truths concerning the Christian life.”3 He then points out “in the first section of the letter we note the word sit (2:6), which is the key to that section and the secret of a true Christian experience. God has made us to sit with Christ in the heavenly places, and every Christian must begin his spiritual life from that place of rest. In the second part we select the word walk (4:1) as expressive of our life in the world, which is the subject. We are challenged there to display in our Christian walk conduct that is in keeping with our high calling. And finally, in the third part we find the key to our attitude towards the enemy contained in the one word stand (6:11), expressive of our place of triumph at the end.”4 Elsewhere Nee indicates that “no Christian can hope to enter the warfare of the ages without learning to rest in Christ and in what he has done, and then, through the strength of the Holy Spirit within, to follow him in a practical, holy life here on earth. If he is deficient in either of these he will find all the talk about spiritual warfare remains only talk; he will never know its reality.”5
The journey away from the presence of the Lord starts with walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing with the sinners, and sitting as a scoffer of the teachings of the Lord. What a joy is it to realize that our return to Eden begins at a place of rest. God takes us out of this world dominated by sin and seats us in the heavenly places. All this happens by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is from this place of rest that we can begin our walk with the Lord, doing all the good things that the God created us to do from the very beginning. It is because we are secured in the heavenlies that we have access to all that is needed to stand against the powers of darkness that wage war against God and the people of God. We are like trees planted by trees of water. Always bearing fruit in due season.
- All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), unless noted.
- Derek Kinder, Psalm 1-72: Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D.J. Wiseman (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 48.
- Watchman Nee, Sit, Walk Stand (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1957), x.
- Nee, x.
- Ibid., 40.
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