Psalm 1:1-3 – How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in Yahweh’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
At the opening of the book of Psalms is a description of the person of integrity, one who is not captivated and led astray by the sins of those around them. Notice: he does not abide by wicked advice or counsel, he does not take a stand in the way of sinners or dwell with those who arrogantly scorn others.
I have heard sermons illustrating the arc of being led astray by sin in this fashion: it begins by walking in bad advice, then standing with sinners, and finally sitting with those who mock others. Being led astray begins by walking, slows to standing, and ends with sitting among sinners. While it makes a good sermon and is not unhelpful, the underlying Hebrew is not quite that specific. The main focus is not to associate in casual ways with those who are rebellious against the things of God, or one will become like them and dwell among them.
By contrast, the person of integrity will avoid this downward spiral by a very simple and time-honored strategy: to delight in Yahweh’s torah or instruction and to constantly refer to and rely on the principles of God. To the person of integrity, God’s word is delightful, pleasant, and worthy of time and thoughtful study. The word in English is typically translated as meditate, but it also conveys ideas of musing, imagining, speaking and uttering God’s torah. This process is continual, day and night, thinking on, rehearsing and speaking about God’s instruction. This is the foundation of a believer’s integrity.
When one honor’s God’s instruction in this way, the psalmist likens them to a tree that is always vibrant, regardless of the harshness of the environment. If the weather is hot and dry, the tree continues to flourish and bear fruit just as if its roots were tapped into a nearby stream.
Yeshua also references this source of strength in similar terminology.
John 7:38-39 – The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit…
The believer in Messiah who is immersed in the instruction of God will be provided a resource to counter any adverse condition they may encounter. The depths of this resource are limitless, as it is the very Spirit of God himself. Not only will one avoid the snares of the ungodly, but they can also bear fruit in the most inhospitable environments. This is the path of the righteous, the person of integrity.
Proverbs 4:18-19 – The way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they don’t know what makes them stumble. But he path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday.
Having the light of the dawn carries hope that the night is almost over, but the righteous person is continually increasing in brightness as they draw from the limitless resource within them. Just as the sun is an inexhaustible source of light and heat, the Spirit of God is an inexhaustible source of wisdom, strength and life. This is the resource available to all believers.
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