Taking a fresh look at verses 1-3
Happy are those who do not listen to the wicked
– who do not go where sinners go – who do not do what evil people do.
They love our Lord’s teachings
and they think about those teachings– day and night.
They are strong like a tree that grows along the side of a river.
The tree produces fruit in season and its leaves do not die.
Everything they do will succeed.
|-- New Century Version (slightly edited)|
"Happy are those - who do not listen to the wicked."
What do you listen to? Please take a moment to honestly and sincerely consider this.
- What do you listen to on the radio?
- What do you watch on TV?
- What do you read?
- What do you talk about with others?
- Be it in person
- Over the phone
- On the Internet
- Or via other forms of correspondence – such as text messaging
Happy are those – who do not go where the sinners go.
Taken to the extreme, we would not be able to step out of our house. In fact, we could not even be with ourselves – for we are ALL sinners. No one is without sin.
So just what is the proper application of this part of the verse? If we apply the good sense that God gave us then we understand this to be an instruction to avoid places and situations that we know and understand to be conducive to sin. That is, places and situations that are an enticement to our carnal (sinful) nature – and/or that which purposefully takes our attention off of God and puts it instead on that which delights our physical senses; places and situations that encourage us to do that which we know and understand to be in opposition to a holy and humble mindset.
Happy are those – who do not do what 'evil people' do.
Who are 'evil people' and what do 'evil people' do?
Once again, the good sense that God gave us helps us to know and understand what is good and what is evil. Here is a little exercise you can do to see that what I am saying is true…
Think back – as far as you can recall – to the very first time you did something wrong – without anyone there to tell you it was wrong.
Even though there was no one there to tell you – to confirm to you – that what you did was wrong, you knew it was wrong – instinctively! Or at the very least, you had a sense that it was not right – even though you had worked it out in your own mind that you had a good reason for doing that which you instinctively knew was not good, right, or proper to do.
That same sense of right and wrong remains with us to this very day.
For some of us, however, that sense of right and wrong is barely perceptible – as we have spent years learning to tune it out in favor of what we wanted to do. We are callus to the urge to do what is right from all those years of going against it and doing wrong. That is how many people end up calling evil good – and good evil. It is their way of justifying their motives and 'squelching out' that small still voice that says, "This is not right. Stop what you are doing and turn away from it!"
They (those who do not listen to the wicked, go where sinners go, and do not do what evil people do) love our Lord's teachings – and they think about those teachings day and night.
- Do you love all that God has taught us - via His angels, prophets, Son and apostles?
- Do you love His teachings so much that you think upon them constantly?
- Do you love His teachings so much that it shows in everything you say and do?
They (those who love our Lord's teachings) are strong like a tree that grows along the side of a river. Such a tree produces fruit in season and its leaves do not die.
– do not listen to the wicked
– do not go where sinners go
– do not do what evil people do
– love our Lord's teachings
– and think on those teachings day and night
...then we, too, can grow strong like the tree along the riverside. In fact, Jesus went so far as to say,
"Whoever believes in me" – that is, not just an intellectual assent to his being the Son of God ("For even the demons believe – and shudder!" --James 2:19), but rather a belief that brings about a complete change of heart; from that of being totally focused on self, to that of total self-sacrifice with a pure love for everyone, not just a select few – whoever BELIEVES in Jesus – as the Scripture has said, "out of your heart will flow living water."
No longer will you simply drink in all that is pure and holy – but it will also flow out from you and will refresh everyone you come in contact with!
Everything they do will succeed.
All to the glory of God, our Father and his Son; our Redeemer, Savior, King, and Friend.