Psalm 1 and the Righteous One

Daniel and I have been traveling for the last few days, so that is why there has been so much silence on the blog. July has turned into a crazy month for us, which has been good but not allowed as much time to write for the blog. But Psalm 1 has been lingering in my mind over the last few days. The first time I ever heard D.A. Carson preach was in chapel at college. I didn't know that much about him, but everyone said it was a big deal that he was there to preach so I listened a little more intently that day. I wish I could say that it changed my life and I remember every word he said. Sadly, I don't remember much from that day. But I do remember one thing clearly. He preached from Psalm 1 and I learned that Psalm 1 is about Christ. For a new believer wrestling through how to interpret the Bible it stuck with me.

Psalm 1 says:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Countless passages in Psalms, Proverbs, and others present the prosperity of the righteous in contrast to the demise of the wicked. One could infer that if you could just be righteous you would be set. God would look on you with favor. But if you are like me, there is always that little voice in your head that reminds you of all the ways you are not like the righteous one in this passage. And then you read Romans 3 or Psalm 14 and see that no one is righteous in God's eyes. So how do we reconcile the perceived promises for the righteous in Psalm 1 in light of what the Bible, and our own conscience, says about our condition before God?

Let's consider what the Old Testament says about our condition and need for righteousness. The major prophets (Isaiah and Jeremiah) talk repeatedly about a Righteous Branch, one who will execute justice and righteousness for God's people. In Isaiah 11 the Righteous Branch is shown to bear fruit. In Isaiah 60 we see that righteousness and prosperity (and judgment) are all of God. In Jeremiah 23 and 33 the Righteous Branch saves his people. The Old Testament is preparing us for the reign of this Righteous Branch. His name is Jesus. He is the one who executes righteousness and justice. He is the only one who can be called righteous by a holy and perfect God.

Psalm 1 says that we can be blessed if we are righteous. And this is true. But we are not righteous. And we cannot be righteous by simply getting our act together. Our righteousness is determined by another. When we cling to him and his perfect action on our behalf, atonement for our sins, we get all of the benefits of his righteousness. We get to drink from the flowing streams of God's goodness because Jesus perfectly obeyed and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

So the next time you hear that little voice condemning your unrighteousness when you read these passages take heart, dear Christian. While the little voice is right in declaring us unrighteous there is a way to be righteous and his name is Jesus.