The Truly Blessed Man
“Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly; nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the Law of the Lord: and in His Law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season: his leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.”
IT is an old saying and possibly a true one, that every man is seeking after happiness. If it is so, then every man should read this Psalm, for this directs us where happiness is to be found in its highest degree and purest form! “Blessed,” says David, “is such-and-such a man,” and the word which he uses is, in the original, exceedingly expressive. It implies a sort of plurality of blessedness–“Blessednesses are to the man” and it is scarcely known whether the word is an adjective or a noun, as if the blessedness qualified the whole of life and was, in itself, better even than life itself! The very highest degree of happiness is blessedness, “these blessednesses,‘’ as Ainsworth says, "heaped up, one upon the other.” Surely this is the very highest to which the human heart can aspire! Let us then, this evening, come with attentive hearts to consider in the Light of Revelation, the character of the blessed man. We will begin by considering–
- WHO THE “BLESSED MAN” IS.
The description given of him is simply this, that he is a man. There are moral qualities given, but the only thing saidof him, in the first place, is that he is a man. Here is something very suggestive, for he is a person subject to the commonsorrows of humanity. If we hear of a person greatly blessed by the sense of Christ’s Presence and so enabled to walk in holiness and much usefulness, we cherish the delusion that he must have been better than the ordinary run of men, certainly not such an one as ourselves! Ah, but how great is the mistake! God fashions all hearts alike and if there are distinctions, they are of Divine Grace, not of being better by nature! The most blessed man is still a man. He must sufferpain, or pine in sickness, endure losses and crosses–and yet in it all be a blessed man!
Being a man, he is also subject to infirmities–perhaps of a quick temper, or of a high and haughty spirit. He may betempted to sloth or a besetting sin of another kind. Still being a man he must have some infirmity and yet, none the less is he blessed. Do not dream that the best of men are yet without fault! They will confess to you that they have–
“To wrestle hard as we do still
With sins and doubts and fears.”
More than this, it appears that he has to endure the same temptations that we have. “The way of sinners” oftencrosses his path. The “seat of the scornful” is sometimes next door to his own–or even under the same roof. He is not blind–he is obliged to see the dust which struts through the street. He is not deaf–he is forced to hear the lascivious song as it floats on the midnight air. He is subject to like passions and tempted in all points as we are, and yet he is blessed! Only a man, but much more than he would have been had not God blessed him!
Observe, too, he does not hold any eminent position. It is not, “Blessed is the king, blessed is the scholar, blessed is the rich,” but, “Blessed is the man.” This blessedness is as attainable by the poor, the forgotten and the obscure, as by those whose names figure in history and are trumpeted by fame! It is not to the hermit who lives alone, but to the workman toiling among his fellows. Not to the man who wears a surplice and assumes the exclusive title of, “priest”–but it comes to any man, or woman in fustian, or corduroy–who loves God and seeks to obey Him. His position has nothing to do with it. His character has everything to do with it! He is a man and nothing but a man, though Divine Grace makes him much more.
The Psalm reveals to us, too, that in order to secure his blessedness, he is a man needing help. He is likened to a tree.It must drink of the rivers of water and so this man must live upon Divine Grace. “His way” is said to be “known to the Lord,” implying that God’s approval of his way brings him strength. The best of men cannot live upon themselves. Our hearts are like the fire in the Interpreter’s house which the enemy tried to quench, but blazed the more because a man stood behind the wall and fed the flame from a vessel of oil in his hands. His is a secret and mysterious power–the work of the Holy Spirit–who “works in us to will and do of God’s good pleasure.” In ourselves we are as weak as we can be, and left to ourselves would soon fall into some sin.
There is in the Psalm, however, one word which truly describes this man, and that is that he is a righteous man! Observe the last verse–“The Lord knows the way of the righteous.” The balance of this man’s nature has been readjusted by the Divine Scale-Maker. He was once all out of gear–put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter–but now his judgment is rectified and in spirit and character he is a righteous man. Once he was naked and defiled, but he has been washed in the fountain filled with blood and clothed with the Righteousness of Christ, a garment glittering with gold and silver threads–and all by faith!
This is the description of the “blessed man,” but still I beg you to remember he is only a man. Some such were born in the lowliest paths of life, educated in the most slender fashion, yet they have been among the finest witnesses and most heroic martyrs for their Lord. The brightest spirits that now wave the palm branch and strike the golden lyres most rapturously, were but sons and daughters of Adam, like ourselves. Ezekiel, privileged to see more visions, perhaps, than any other Prophet, is constantly called “son of man,” as if God would keep him humble, reminding him of the hole of the pit from where he was dug. However blessed you may get, my Brothers and Sisters, it is still only, “Blessed is the man.” So I have tried to put the ladder down to you who are beginners in the heavenly life, to show you that there is not a long step to take at first. You are a man, and the text comes to you with, “Blessed is the man!” May it be true of all of us! Now, we get following on this–
II. WHAT THE “BLESSED MAN” AVOIDS.
There is, I believe, a book published which is entitled, What to Eat, Drink and Avoid. I should imagine the thirdsection to be by far the largest portion, for there are a thousand things to be avoided. Now in this Psalm it appears that the Divinely blessed man avoids
the common way of ungodly persons. The ungodly are not necessarily drunks or swear
ers. These are ungodly, of course, but not all ungodly persons are like they. The ungodly are just your go-easy sort of people. They may go to Church or Chapel, or go nowhere. They are often very respectable, good neighbors, kind to the poor. They may hold public office and enter Parliament. There is no place they may not fill, for it is not considered an offense among men to be “ungodly.” The tragic folly and sin of these people is that they have neglected the chief thing to be remembered, namely, that there is a God, that they are His creatures and, being His creatures, ought to live to Him. But they give God no part of their lives and He is in none of their thoughts. They will think of their neighbors, remember their friends and acquaintances. The duties of the second table of the Law of God they observe in a measure, but the first table is despised as though it had never been written!
The blessed man, however, avoids this. He sees that God, who fills all things, ought to fill His thoughts and that the great end of his being should be “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” It is chiefly here that the godly man differs from others. He does not consider first how the world regards a thing but how God looks at it. If they ask, “Is it fashionable?” he replies, “the fashion of this world passes away.” “But will you gain by it?” “Ah,” he says, “that is not the measuring line I carry. I am content to lose, so that I can keep my word and serve God.” The first thought of the truly blessed man is how he can best glorify the name of Christ and in so doing he avoids “the counsel of the ungodly.”
In the next place he avoids "
the way of sinners.“ Sinners live for pleasures. The Christian has his, but they would
never please the worldling, nor would the worldling’s gratify his new tastes. The sinner can do a thousand things which the saint cannot do and would not if he could–and the Christian can do a thousand things of which the sinner knows nothing. Let a thing be labeled, “sin,” in God’s Book, and though men may laugh at it, call it a mere joke, a piece of fun, a peccadillo, the godly man accepts God’s labeling of it and leaves the “way of sinners” let it be ever so smoothly turfed, and grassed ever so attractively.
The true Christian shuns “ the seat of the scornful.” It makes his blood boil when he hears God’s name profaned. Hisheart is full of horror because of the wicked who obey not God’s Law. Though he is told to “prove all things,” he knows that a very slight test is enough for some things and he puts them quickly aside to hold fast only that which is good. Some professors like to sit near the seat of the scornful, “for argument’s sake,” they say. ‘Twas thus that Mother Eve ruined the whole world, by listening to the serpent’s suggestions–and much mischief has been done in a similar way since then to Christian faith and simplicity! Ah, the further I can get from the scorner’s seat, the better, and there let him sit alone! Away! Away! Away, for behold the day comes when like Korah, Dathan and Abiram, the profane shall go down alive into the Pit! Happy is the man who shall escape that horror by keeping far, far away. These are some of the things the truly “blessed man” avoids–and the more he avoids them, the more blessed he is!
Once more, he avoids the very persons of sinners except as far as he has to deal with them in civil matters and thecommon courtesies and duties of life. They are not his bosom friends–he would never dream of being unequally yoked with them in marriage! He shuns their company all he can, for his congenial associates are elsewhere. Their ways, example, words, he avoids. As he would keep from plague-infected places and people, so he strives to keep aloof from men who blaspheme, lest their profanity should taint and defile him. “Father,” said a young fellow, “I can go into such-and-such company and not be hurt.” The father stooped down to the fireplace and picked up a piece of coal. “There,” said he to his son “take that in your hands.” The son shrank from the black cinder. “Why,” said the father, “it will not burn you!” “No! but it will blacken me,” he replied. Ah, bad company can blacken even where it does not burn, so stay away from it! You can never retain this blessedness unless, like the man described here, you walk not in the counsel of the ungodly, you stand not in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. And now for the third Truth of God here insisted on–
III. WHEREIN THE “BLESSED MAN” DELIGHTS.
“His delight is in the Law of the Lord.” Man must have some delight, some supreme pleasure. His heart was never meant to be a vacuum. If not filled with the best things, it will be filled with the unworthy and disappointing. As we remarked the other night when our text was, “Then the devil left Him and, behold, angels come and ministered unto Him”–man cannot be alone, for if evil departs, [See Sermon #2236, Volume 37–PRODIGAL LOVE FOR THE PRODIGAL SON–Read/download the entire sermon, free of charge, at http://www.spurgeongems.org.] good will come–but if good is driven away, evil will come. If you do not fillthe measure with wheat, the arch-enemy will fill it with chaff. If the river flows not with sparkling sweet water, it will soon reek with pestilent discharge! Take care to have something worthy to delight in! I do not know how those people go through the world who never have any sort of pure excitement, but always go moping about from the first of January to the last of December. Life must be a sorry drag to them. The sparkling eyes and the smiling face are the things God meant men to have, and they do not realize life’s full beauty unless at times they posses them. Why, the Christian, above all men, should have what the world calls his, “holidays and bonfire nights”–his days of rejoicing, times of holy laughter, seasons of overflowing delight. No! I think he should strive to always have them, for we are told, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” If we take our religion as men do medicine, it is of little good to us. Some folks go to the House of God as you might suppose criminals would go be the whipping-post. But I like to see people come up to the House of God with cheerful willingness, like children going home, or like those who are bound for the place–
“Where my best friends and kindred dwell,
Where God my Savior reigns!”
The true Christian has his holy delights and chief among them is his reveling in the Law of the Lord, the Word of God. Of course, David had not a fourth of what we possess–it was a very little Bible, then–but it has gone on increasing like a majestic river, until it is the wondrous volume we have! We, therefore, should take ten times more delight in it than the Psalmist did. Why do Christians delight in it? Because it is God’s Law! Anything belonging to God should delight the Believer! A child far from home is intensely pleased with anything that his father gave him. A letter from home is a welcome and joyous thing. Here is a letter from home telling us of our Father’s Grace and permitting us to read the precious secrets of His heart of love for us. We delight in it because it comes with Divine Authority to us and so bringsconfidence and joy to our hearts!
The other day I was reading a book in which six reasons were given why the Christian delights in God’s Law. First, because of its antiquity. Many people delight in old coins. Some will go down to the Thames and buy pieces of old iron that are rusty, under the idea that they are antiques–which they may or may not be. Ah, there is nothing so old as this Book! The first writings of Hesiod fall short at least 500 years of the writings of Moses, so that that part of the blessed volume has Divine Antiquity about it, and is radiant with Divine Inspiration. Let us always delight in it!
We delight in it because of the justice of it. There is a law revealed in it, if perfectly carried out, no man would hurthis neighbor, but love him as he loves himself! No rank or class would press heavily upon another and each would remember, consider, try to bless the other. It is made as no human law can be made, and every person yielding to it feels it in his conscience to be just.
We prize the Book, too, because of its lofty wisdom. There is more wisdom for the life here than anywhere else. Wedo not come here for astronomy, or geology, but we come here for the highest of all wisdom–the science of God–for, though Pope says–
“The proper study of mankind is man,”
we beg his pardon! A yet more proper study of mankind is God and here, in this Book of God, we learn of His love to us in the Person of Christ Jesus and grasp the science–heavenliest wisdom–of a crucified Redeemer!
We delight in the Book, also,
because it is true. Fiction may be read or not, as men’s tastes may direct, but it is of
infinite value to have a book in which every word stands fast, when like a dream, Heaven and earth shall have melted away.
Again, we delight in it because it is pleasant. There are sweetnesses in it better than the honey droppings from thehoneycomb. When we read it, it makes the godly heart to beat at a high and glorious rate and sometimes takes him on the wings of eagles bearing him to a loftier Pisgah than Moses ever stood upon, and so helping him to see the land on the further side of Jordan–his eternal rest and heritage!
Lastly, the Christian delights in “the Law of the Lord,” because it is profitable. This book enriches with the best ofwealth and stored-up treasures for all eternity! Now gathering up all these reasons I want to earnestly ask each one of us here, “Do you delight in this Book?” Not, do you read it–but do you read it with delight? To go to it dragged there by duty, is miserably to miss its best messages and is no evidence of true godliness. To put a sentence of it under the tongue as a sweet morsel, to grow healthy upon it when you are sick, rich upon it when poor–this is one of the truest tests of being a “blessed man”–but if you do not enjoy this, God help you to begin at the foundation! Repent of sin, seek the Savior, or otherwise where God is you can never go!
But I must hasten on to ask–
IV. WHAT OCCUPIES THE “BLESSED MAN’S” TIME?
“In His Law he does meditate day and night.” By day he gets little intervals of time to read it, so he steals from his nightly rest, moments in which to meditate upon it. Reading reaps the wheat, meditation threshes it, grinds it and makes it into bread. Reading is like the ox feeding–meditation is it digesting when chewing the cud. It is not only reading that does us good, but the soul inwardly feeding on it and digesting it. A preacher once told me that he had read the Bible through 20 times on his knees and had never found the Doctrine of Election there. Very likely not. It is a most uncomfortable position in which to read. If he had sat in an easy chair, he would have been better able to understand it. To read on one’s knees is like a Popish penance! Besides, he read in the wrong way–if instead of 20 times galloping through, he had read once and pondered continually–he probably would have seen clearer than he evidently did.
It is said of some horses that they “bolt their oats.” This good brother was “bolting” Holy Scripture, and so getting little nutriment out of it! The inward meditation is the thing that makes the soul rich towards God. This is the godly man’s occupation. Put the spice into the mortar by reading, beat it with the pestle of meditation–so shall the sweet perfume be exhaled.
May I ask whether there are not some here who do not meditate on God’s Word at all? If so, then this solemn thought will seize us–if you have not the blessedness of God’s Word, you must inherit its curse! Let us see to it and now, beginning at the Cross of Jesus Christ, study the mystery of His wounds for our sin, and then go on afterward to meditate in His Law day and night.
This brings us now to the very center of the Psalm’s teaching.
- WHEREIN IS THIS MAN SO DIVINELY “BLESSED”?
Very briefly on each point. He is blessed first of all, for life. “He shall be like a tree.” Not a dry, dead, sapless pole.His life is such that unregenerate men are strangers to it. He has been begotten again unto a living hope. The sap of God’s Grace is in him–he is united to Christ, his Root–and because He lives and lives in him, he lives also. He has stability. The tree planted. Well-rooted in the ground. The wicked are like the chaff which the wind drives away, but the Christian’s life is stable. “Solid joys and lasting pleasures” are his portion. He has, too, the gladness of growth. The treeremains not the sapling, but grows upward, downward, abroad, spreading its branches. So the godly man is always learning more of his Heavenly Father and endeavoring to be more conformed to the image of his Lord. He has the blessing, too, of favored position. Planted by God, Himself–not self-sown or the foundling of the wind. If he is a servant, hebelieves God has put him where he should be. Poor or rich, he learns to be content for he is a tree Divinely planted. He is well sustained. Whatever is really good for him, God has pledged Himself to give. Not a tree in the desert, but placed where the water comes rippling to his roots. He hears his Master say, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed.”
He has yet again, beauty in God’s sight. Beauty of an unfading kind–“his leaf, also, shall not wither.” When personal beauty decays by reason of old age, and beauty of wit and learning are assailed by approaching death, still he shall be fair, in the likeness of his Master, as a young olive tree, and grow as a cedar in the court of his God! And to crown all, he has constant prosperity. “Whatever he does shall prosper.” He may not grow rich, but he still prospers. His ships maybe broken at El-Geber, but he can thank God even for that, for their breaking may help him to heavenly Grace through his very tribulations–so he is content to lose his possessions if his soul is made wealthy in faith and love and sweet submission to God’s will. This metaphor of the flourishing tree is a very beautiful one. See it there, always green, loaded with fruit, standing where it can never know drought. If God has taught us to delight in His Law, that is our true picture and portrait. Is it ours?
But to close, here we are made to ask–
VI. WHO IS THIS BLESSED MAN’S GUARDIAN? There must be somebody who takes care of him, or he could not be so blessed as he is. Ah, “The Lord knows the way of the righteous.” If you are resting in Christ for salvation, the Lord knows your way. The minister knows nothing of your trials–you half wish you might dare tell him so that he might guide and comfort. But if he knows not, the Lord knows all your way. Are you sorely depressed? Do waves of grief roll over your soul? Well, pour out your heart to God, for He knows, and knows how to help! If the Lord did not look after us in our best days, we would perish by the sunstroke of too much prosperity! And if He did not watch us in our worst days, we should be frost-killed by the cruel Arctic winds of adversity!
But says one, “How may I begin this way?” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and this is the fear of the Lord–to trust your soul in the hands of God’s appointed Savior and know you are safe! Say from your very heart–
‘'Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Your blood was shed for me,
And that You bid me come to You.
O Lamb of God, I come!"
If your very soul sings that, you are on the road to true blessedness and all that is in this Psalm shall be yours in life, in death and throughout eternity! May God bless you thus, for Jesus' sake. Amen