Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners…
There is a very beautiful story told of a king who, when he came to his throne a young man, had a silver bell made and placed in a high tower of his palace. Then the announcement was set forth that whenever the king was happy his subjects would know it by the ringing of this bell. It was never to be rung except when the king was perfectly happy, and then by no hand but his own, Days passed into weeks, and weeks into months, and the months into years; but no sound of the bell rang out either day or night to tell that the king was happy. At last the king, grown old and grey in his palace, lay on his death bed. His weeping subjects gathered around him, and he learned how through all the years his people had loved him; and then he was happy, and in his joy, with dying hands, he rang out the silver bell. How many years of wasted happiness because the king did not come to know and appreciate the love of his people! The little story may suggest to us a still greater loss in ourselves. Only the consciousness of God's love can make us perfectly happy. Many people go through life from childhood to youth, from youth to manhood, from manhood to age, and the lines of care deepen in their faces, and the silver bell of happiness never rings out, because all the while they are getting further from God, and there is no consciousness of that Divine love which alone can give perfect happiness and peace to the human heart. We have in this Psalm the thought of a keen-brained and spiritually instructed man as to what is required to make a happy man. We have here the testimony of a man of broad experience. David sets forth, at the beginning, that there are three things which it is important that we shall not do if we are to lead happy lives. The first of these is walking in the counsel of the ungodly. I do not understand that he intended to teach that to come under this head it is necessary for a man to seek out ungodly people and ask their advice as to how he shall live. The danger is far more insidious than that. The trouble is that ungodly people are always ready to speak their counsels of evil and lead others astray by them. Eve did not send for the devil to come and advise her, but he came of his own accord and spit forth his lying sophistries about the Lord. Many young men and women come to the city from Christian homes, expecting to live a frank Christian life; but in the boarding house, or the store or shop where they work, they are thrown into touch with ungodly people, who are ready at every turn with sceptical and insinuating remarks about the Church and about Christianity. Their counsels are for laxity of faith and conduct. Rev. W.L. Watkinson, in a recent sermon, recalls the fact that while we are careful to do our utmost to protect great buildings from fire and tempest, yet all the while those buildings are liable to another peril, certainly not less severe — the subtle decay of the very framework of the structure itself. The tissue of the wood silently and mysteriously deteriorates, and a calamity dire as a conflagration is precipitated. Many people think they are all right because they are not committing outbreaking sins, while the counsels to which they are listening, and the associations to which they are lending themselves, are really undermining all their spiritual strength. The fibre of will and conscience and feeling is secretly eaten away, and some day they awake to find they no longer possess the faith, the sensibility, and the resolution of other days. No swift and violent assault of world or flesh or devil has torn or stained them, but it has been like a moth fretting a garment. In the physical world sunshine is the sure antidote to the dry rot. So the only antidote to the counsels of the ungodly is to turn from them to the beams which fall from the Sun of Righteousness. Prosperous looking trunk. It was strongly made, and, although not very heavy, the speculators who examined its exterior concluded that it contained articles of value. One of them finally secured it for fifty-five dollars, and promptly prised it open, when he found within it only a disjointed human skeleton, which had probably been the property of some medical student. It is easy to understand the chagrin of the purchaser who, instead of gold and jewels, found only those relics of death. Multitudes have experienced a similar disappointment, but one infinitely more sorrowful, when they have discovered the real nature of the prizes which they gained by sin. There is still another place that a man if he will be really happy must avoid, and that is, "the seat of the scornful." God have mercy on the boy who has gone so far that he can make a joke of his mother's religion, that he can make a sneer about his father's God, that he can scorn the voice of God's Word that calls him to repentance! The sarcasm and cynicism and scorn of a sharp wit is often very fascinating to young people, but I assure you that the man who exercises it is never happy. It is a blossom which grows on a tree that is bitter at the heart. I have seen many scornful men and women, but I have never yet seen one who was happy. Well, we have been looking at some of the things one must not do if he is to be happy; let us turn to the brighter side, and see what one may do to ensure happiness. The prescription is given here, and is very plain. "But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night." But, you say, "How can I delight in the law of the Lord, and how can I begin to think about Him, if I am taken up with other things?" It is all very simple. You have been breaking God's law, and therefore you cannot delight in it. Stop breaking it. Turn right about and. begin to obey the law of the Lord, and then you will have a chance to delight in it. God has made happiness and obedience to go together. As you obey the Lord, and as you feel the warmth of His smile on your face, you will take delight in Him. All this is perfectly natural. The man who has committed a crime, and has broken the law of the land, and is fleeing from justice like a hunted animal or has been caught and is being punished, takes no delight in that law. But the man who obeys the law and finds its strong arm of protection thrown around him, and rejoices in its security, delights in it, and in the consciousness of the presence of the law he finds rest and peace And what a glorious result is assured from such delight in the law of the Lord: "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water," etc. What a beautiful picture that is! Ah, but, you say, "Does God live up to that? Do not many Christians have hard experiences, and trying difficulties like other people?" Certainly, the hot sun beats down on the tree planted by the river just the same as it does on the one that is planted on the gravelly, sandy upland. But the one by the river runs its roots down into the refreshing streams beneath, and when the upland tree withers and turns brown the tree by the river is as green as ever. Christians meet the troubles of life like other people, but if they give themselves up whole heartedly to do God's will, and delight in the law of the Lord, they have peace and content in the midst of the sorest trouble. You want happiness. There is only one certain prescription for happiness, and that is to obey God.
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.