New Year’s Advice from Psalm 1

New Year’s Advice from Psalm 1 December 29, 2017

holy writ psalm 23 closeup

Do you make resolutions for the new year? While many people do, most resolutions last about as long as they take to make. What are we doing wrong?

Resolutions can be an admirable effort. However, application is often difficult. For example, I had originally hoped to finish handwriting the Bible a second time by the end of this year. Life has changed much since my original goal in 2013. I’m now “redirecting” (as the GPS would say) to a new goal of finishing by the end of 2018.

In looking at ways to improve my resolutions for the new year, I’ve found myself focusing on Psalm 1. This Psalm has often been called a summary and introduction to Psalms, the Bible’s longest book, with 150 chapters.

The Way of the Blessed

The first chapter is only six verses. The structure consists of three parts. Verses 1-3 focus the life of the person who is blessed.

What are the traits of a person who is blessed? The answer begins with three negatives:

  1. “does not walk in step with the wicked”
  2. does not “stand in the way of sinners”
  3. does not “walk in the company of mockers”

 

In contrast, the blessed person:

  1. delights in God’s law
  2. meditates on God’s words day and night

 

The person who does these two things is noted as:

  • being like a tree planted by streams of water (is healthy)
  • yields fruit in season (is fruitful)
  • does not wither (does not die)

The blessed person’s bottom line? The Psalmist writes “whatever they do prospers.”

The Way of the Wicked

In contrast, verses 4-5 note the way of the wicked. In contrast with a fruitful tree, the wicked are like “chaff that the wind blows away.” They do not last. The Psalmist remarks the wicked will not stand.

In conclusion, the Psalmist notes, “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction” (v. 6).

For God’s blessing, we are to be righteous. How can we be righteous? Meditating on God’s words while avoiding the ways of the wicked.

Need some resolutions for 2018? Here are mine. Feel free to adapt for your own life:

  1. Focus on God’s Word daily: This involves either reading, listening, or writing out Scripture, even if for just a few moments a day.
  2. Avoid the ways of the wicked: We each have our own areas of weakness. Some of mine will include better diet and exercise, better media viewing choices, and investing more time in the people who matter most in my life–my wife, kids, and serving others in my community and beyond.

 

The Bible may not focus much on New Year’s resolutions, but it does offer a clear focus for our lives. The words of Psalm 1 mark the path clearly. We only need to read it and live it.

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Dillon Burroughs is the author and coauthor of numerous books and blogs about his experiences of handwriting the Bible at the Holy Writ Project on Patheos.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook or Twitter.

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