Good morning po! It’s a New Year. Ambilis po ng panahon ‘no. Although I just realized, kapag ang daming nangyayari at ang daming concerns and responsibilities—parang ang haba at ang tagal ng isang taon.
In any case, for most people, the New Year is the perfect time to reflect on life. Kami ni Yeng, we have this tradition before the year ends, na ia-assess namin yung dumaan na taon but also make personal goals and prayer for the year to come. I don’t know for you, pero madalas nga, ito yung time na yung mga tao eh gumagawa ng goals or resolutions.
“Magbabagong buhay na ako,” “Mag-seseryo na ako sa buhay this year.” “Magdi-diet na talaga ako this year! Mage-enroll na ako sa gym.” Tapos after 1 month, balik sa dating gawi.
Well, that’s the reality for many people (hindi naman lahat). We don’t always achieve our goals and resolutions for the year. Nevertheless, it’s still good for people to reflect on life and our aspirations in life during the New Year. Syempre, dapat hindi lang tuwing New Year, but it’s a helpful season for that particular purpose.
Now, as we face this New Year, let us reflect on some realities of life through Psalm 1. Many Bible scholars and teachers believe that Psalm 1 is actually combined with Psalm 2 as an introduction to the whole book of Psalms. Maraming hints, pero isa dun, eh yung Psalm 1 begins with “Blessed” and Psalm 2 ends with the same word.
Nevertheless, Psalm 1 is considered as a standalone piece of Introduction. And it has its own message to its readers. As for the type of Psalm, Psalm 1 is a “Wisdom Psalm.”
Paanong “wisdom Psalm?”
It begins with the word, “Blessed.” Sa ibang translation, “Happy,” kaso lang medyo shallow yung dating ng “Happy” sa panahon natin ngayon. And the word “Blessed” means “having the favor of God.” Hindi ka lang basta masaya, ikaw ay pinagpala dahil nasa ‘yo ang pabor ng Diyos.
And the Psalmist shows that this blessedness comes with living a righteous and godly life—in contrast with wickedness. Pag-sinabi po kasi nating “Wisdom,” it is basically living and conducting ourselves according to the Word and design of God. Being “wise” means discerning the best way to follow God, ano mang situation ang hinaharap mo sa buhay.
And wisdom has rewards. Wise living comes with blessing from God. Yun din ang paulit-ulit na in-emphasize kahit sa book of Proverbs, another Wisdom book. So here, in Psalm 1, the Psalmist encourages wisdom by describing the righteous man as the blessed one. And it implies an exhortation to live a righteous life. He’s like saying, “Blessed is the righteous man… Therefore, live this way!”
Now, Psalm 1 is structured in 3 sections.
- Verses 1-2: Two ways: The way of the righteous and of the wicked
- Verses 3-4: Two portraits: The tree and the chaff
- Verses 5-6: Two ends: Life and death
Let’s first go through the entire Psalm itself.
A. Verses 1-2: The Two Ways
- Verse 1: “Blessed is the man…”
Hindi po “lalaki” lang tinutukoy dito. It’s a generic person. The psalmist is portraying here a representative or example of a righteous and godly person.
And this godly person is described by what he does not do (v. 1) and what he does (v. 2).
Ano yung hindi niya ginagawa?
- “Does not walk in the counsel of the wicked” (or “does not listen to the words of the wicked”)
- “Does not stand in the way of sinners”
- “Does not sit in the seat of scoffers”
The words “wicked,” “sinners,” and “scoffers” here are referring to one type of person—the unrighteous. But notice the language here. Meron intensification of words. First, there’s “walking,” then “standing,” and then “sitting.” And the image of “sitting” means you’re already settled in it.
Pinapakita dito yung “degrees” ng kasalanan, and that’s the nature of sin. It always starts small and seeks to get worse.
Take for instance, serial murders. When interviewed, the criminals would admit that it was premeditated and planned. Greater sins do not happen in an instant. It is progressive… But it’s not only in heinous and public sins.
Take for instance, pornography. Sa una, titingnan mo lang yung mga photos ng mga magagandang babae online o manonood ka lang ng Miss Universe—while conscious ka in your mind that you are already lusting after them. Soon, kung hahayaan mo lang yun, you will actually look at pornography. At kung hindi mo imo-mortify yun, you will soon long for it. Hindi ka na mabuhay nang wala yun. You’re already addicted to it and even find ways to carry it out. You’re “seated” on it.
That’s how “sin” is a downward spiral. If you don’t kill sin or any influence of sin, it will keep dragging us down and keep us captive.
But for the righteous man in Psalm 1, he avoids any influence of sin and any form wickedness. He makes no association with it. He does not do it.
Instead, ano yung ginagawa niya?
- Verse 2: “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
That’s how the righteous avoids and runs away from wickedness—by delighting, meditating and living according to God’s Word. You know, one reason we often fail in our struggle with sin, is we take more influence from the world than from the Word of God.
Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”
And “meditating day & night” here doesn’t mean wala na siyang ibang ginawa sa buong araw kundi mag-basa ng Bible. But he makes God’s Word shape and guide his thoughts, desires, words, and actions throughout the day.
So we observe here two ways:
- The way of righteousness (avoiding sin and delighting and living in God’s Word)
- The way of wickedness (living in sin, going after sin).
Now, let’s go to verses 3–4. And we see here 2 portraits
B. Verses 3-4: The Two Portraits
- Verse 3: “He (the righteous) is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
The image of the tree implies life. And the rest of the imagery suggests that the righteous is marked by growth. Buhay na buhay siya, sagana. He is well-sustained, he is flourishing. Lumalago siya.
Of course, the word “prospers” here doesn’t mean that the righteous will always be rich materially. Tipong, lahat ng ginagawa ng believer, laging successful. Kahit sa panahon ng Israel, marami ring “wicked” na mayayaman.
In any case, yung “prosperity” and “riches” naman na tinutukoy sa Bible para sa isang godly person ay higit pa sa mga materyal na yaman. Pwedeng good reputation, good legacy, and most of all, the favor of God.
How about the portrait for the wicked?
- Verse 4: “The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”
Yung “chaff” po, ito yung ipa, yung manipis na balat ng bigas. Kapag nag-aani ng palay, hinihiwalay yung ipa sa bigas. I forgot the exact term. Pero ginagawa ng mga magulang natin noon, yung sinasala nila yung bagong ani na bigas.
Now yung “chaff,” yung ipa mismo, wala nang silbi yun. Actually, kahit habang sinasala yung bigas, dinadala lang yun ng hangin sa sobrang gaan. “[The] wind drive it away.”
At yung imagery na ginamit ng Psalmist dito ay nagpapahiwatig nung kaibahan nung “righteous” at “wicked.” While the righteous is filled with life, growth, and sustenance from God, the wicked gains nothing but vanity. The righteous has everything from God, but the life of the wicked is empty.
Why? Because ultimately, the righteous has God’s favor, he is blessed—but the wicked, the sinner, only has God’s wrath.
At ito po yung makikita natin in verses 5-6, where the Psalmist gives the final contrast: the two ends.
C. Verses 5-6: The Two Ends
- It reads, “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
It’s a completely different outcome, different conclusion of life for the righteous and the wicked. God knows the way of the righteous. He acknowledges it, he recognizes it. He accepts the righteous, he brings the righteous to his own congregation…
But he rejects the wicked. In fact, God will only reject the wicked—he will punish the wicked! Darating ang araw ng paghuhusga at lahat po tayo ay tatayo sa harapan ng Diyos—at ang lahat ng makasalanan, (the wicked), ang lahat ng masama ay tatanggap ng walang hanggang parusa ng Diyos.
Friends, that has always been the message of the Bible. Sinners will always be separated from the righteous. Although in this world, believers and unbelievers live together. Kahit sa visible and local church, it’s a mix of true believers and hypocrites.
Yet Christ himself taught many times, that in the end, God will separate between:
- The sheep and the goat
- The wheat and the tares
- The righteous and the unrighteous.
In Revelation 21, when God finally creates the new heavens and new earth, it says in verse 8: “… as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will in the lake of fire and sulfur.”
The wicked and sinners will not enter heaven; they’ll be thrown in hell. Because in heaven, as Revelation 21:27 reads, “… nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
So it will be eternal life for the righteous, but it will be a horrible end for the wicked and sinners.
Now, what is the Psalmist telling us in this whole Psalm? What truths do we gain from here? Let me share 3.
1. There’s only two pathways in life
It’s only either you are in the way of righteousness or the way of wickedness. Either you are delighting and living in the ways of God, or you are living and swimming in the ways of sin. Either you are righteous or not. Either you obey God’s commands or not. Either you belong to God or not. Either life awaits you in the end or death.
Christ himself said it in Matthew 7:13-14: “There’s a wide gate and wide way that leads to destruction… And there’s a narrow gate and narrow way that leads to life!”
There’s no middle ground. There’s only two ways.
Maraming mga tao ngayon walang pakialam sa religion or sa kung anong pananampalataya mo. Whew, Christian-Christian, Bible-Bible ka pa dyan. Lahat naman ‘yan pare-pareho lang. Lahat naman ‘yan papunta sa iisang Diyos. Kahit ano paniwalaan ko, pare-pareho naman tayong papasok sa langit.
Friend, if that’s what you think, you are terribly wrong.
God is holy. God is just. And in his absolutely sovereignty, he determined that there’s only one way to him—the way of righteousness. Either you are righteous and acceptable in his sight, or you will be rejected by him.
That’s why, in the end, there’s really only two types of people in this world: Believers or Unbelievers. In 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10, “Christ will inflict vengeance on those who do not know God and obey his gospel… but his will be glorified among those who believed.
Dalawang klase lang po ng tao: Kristiyano at hindi Kristiyano. At pag sinabi kong “Kristiyano,” hindi yung basta pumupunta lang sa isang Christian church, kundi isang tunay na mananampalataya kay Cristo sa isip, sa puso, at sa buhay. At sa pamamagitan ng pananampalataya, sila’y matuwid sa mata ng Diyos.
Pano ko po nasabi? Anong kinalaman ni Cristo dito sa Psalm 1? This leads me to the 2nd truth… ultimately, friends…
2. Christ is the only and truly Righteous one
Wait lang, kala ko ba yung Psalm 1 ay encouragement among God’s people to live a righteous life. Yes, tama… But it ultimately points us, not to ourselves, but to Christ.
Kasi kung susuriin po natin sarili natin, kung iku-kumpara natin sarili natin sa Salita ng Diyos—we are not this righteous man.
How many times have we walked—and not just walked, but kept sitting and swimming and enjoying—in the sins and pleasures of this world!? COUNTLESS TIMES!
Perhaps, some of you may argue, “Ay pastor, ‘wag ako. Masunurin ako. Wala akong inaaway na tao. I don’t commit wicked things.” Well, point taken, but do you delight in the law of the LORD? Do you meditate on his Word? Do you make God’s Word shape all your thoughts, words, and actions all the time?
NOTE: Sin is not just a sin of commission (kung saan ginagawa mo yung ipinagbabawal). Sin is also a sin of omission (kung saan hindi mo ginagawa yung dapat mong gawin).
For example, baka kaya wala kang naka-kaaway na tao, eh kasi may sarili ka lang na mundo. Gusto mo mag-isa ka lang lagi. You don’t care about others, you don’t serve others. That’s still a sin.
You see, friends, in all respects—we are sinners. And the description of Psalm 1 points us to Jesus Christ because he is the only Righteous man. He is the only and perfect example of a godly person. Hindi lang sa hindi Siya sumuway sa mga utos ng Diyos. Ginawa at sinunod Niya LAHAT ng utos ng Diyos at LAHAT ng tungkulin na binigay sa Kanya bilang Tagapagligtas.
He was always obedient even to the point of death, even death on the cross. He is perfectly righteous. He fulfilled all righteousness which none of us can ever do.
And here’s the good news, friends. Hindi Siya namuhay ng matuwid para bigyan lang tayo ng halimbawa. Hindi Niya sinabi, “O ‘yan ah, minodel ko na sainyo paano maging matuwid at katanggap-tanggap sa Diyos.” Hindi po… Christ lived a perfect righteousness so he can share that righteousness with us.
Romans 8:3-4 – “What the law could not do, weakened by our flesh, God did! by sending his Son… in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.”
That’s the good news! By faith, God imputes to us Christ’s perfect righteousness. And because of that, he no longer requires us to render full obedience to the Law in order to be justified and be righteous in his sight. Christ already fulfilled that requirement.
At ang lahat ng sumasampalataya kay Cristo, bagama’t makasalanan pa rin sa kanilang laman, ay itinuring nang matuwid ng Diyos. No longer as wicked, but as righteous and blessed men and women and children of God.
But that’s not all, friends. And this leads me to the 3rd truth. Christ is not just the truly Righteous One. Christ is also the fountain of all righteousness.
3. Christ is the fountain of all righteousness
Dun po sa Psalm 1:3, madalas ang nabibigyan ng focus ay yung pag-“yield ng fruit” at lalo na syempre yung “prosper.” But that’s not the most important part. It’s the “streams of water.”
Yung lugar po ng Israel, majority dun ay disyerto. At bihira umulan. Kaya yung tanging pagkukunan ng tubig ay yung mga streams or rivers. At dun po mismo sa tabi ng mga ilog lumalago yung mga puno at halaman.
The same thing here in the Philippines. Kahit nga po madumi yung tubig, basta nasa tabi ng creek, ay napakalaki nung puno. Dun sa Anabu, pagkaliit-liit nung creek, pero yung mga puno ang lalaki, pati yung mga ugat ang lalim.
That’s the imagery in Psalm 1:3. What gives life to the tree and keeps it from drying, what causes it to yield much fruit and prosper—is the streams of water. The tree grows and flourishes by the continuous supply of life.
At mga magulang ko’t kapatid, Christ is our continuous supply of spiritual life and nourishment. Hindi lang binigay satin ng Diyos ang katuwiran ni Cristo. Tayo’y pinagkaisa rin kay Cristo sa pamamagitan ng Banal na Espiritu, kung saan tayo rin ay patuloy na pinapabanal at pinapalago sa katuwiran. So we’re not only justified; we are also sanctified.
By his Spirit, Christ makes us bear the fruit of righteousness. And what is that? Galatians 5:22-23: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”
Yun po ang magma-manifest sa isang mananampalataya, sa isang taong nakay-Cristo—one who is united to him by faith, or using the language of Psalm 1, “planted” in him.
By his Word and Spirit, Christ continues to provide all means of grace so that we will grow in all godliness and righteousness, and be like him. Kaya ano po sabi ni Cristo in John 15:5-6: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
He is the stream of eternal life, the fountain of all righteousness!
So let me end with these questions friends: “Are you in Christ?”
For all of us sinners, “Are you in Christ?” There’s no other way: Either you are in him or you’re not. Either you find life in him or you end up in death and destruction.
Kung magkakaroon ka lang din ng resolution this New Year, let this be your resolution: Never be satisfied until you’re settled in your heart that you are saved in Christ.
Why? Because this is a matter of life and death for eternity!
At ‘wag ka na magsayang ng oras. ‘Wag mo na intayin yung kalagitnaan o katapusan ng taon bago mo pag-isipan yung bagay na ‘to. “Today… While there is still ‘today,’… if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.”
O dear friend, it is the great goodness of God that you’re here, and you hear the good news of what Christ has done for sinners! Repent and believe in him! Trust him! Embrace him! Hold on to the promise of God, “Whoever believes will be saved!”
If you have doubts, if you want to learn more, talk to me or the elders. Do not let this each year and even each day pass until you can answer that question, “Are you in Christ? Are you saved?”
For those of you who say, “I am in Christ.” Let me ask you again, “Are you sure you are in Christ?” And I’m not asking you to think of the first time you confessed Christ as your Savior and Lord. “Are you walking in his ways? Are you abiding in him? Are you being nourished by his Word? Are you growing in righteousness?”
There may be times when faith seems weak, especially when trials come. But soon, God always helps us to stand and be stronger than before. Every true believer grows like a tree planted in streams of water. And that should be our ultimate prayer and goal this year!
Let me ask you, kapatid: What’s your biggest goal this year? More travel goals!? Higher income? Well, those are not wrong in itself… How about not missing any Lord’s Day? How about getting more healthy or having no work on Sunday so you won’t miss the Lord’s Day? How about reading more about Christ? How about more consistent prayer time?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, God gives us every new day, every new year not as an opportunity to acquire more of this world, but as an opportunity to grow more and more in the image of Christ! May that be our prayer, “Lord, make me grow more in the grace and knowledge of Christ! Make me more obedient, more loving and patient to others, more hopeful, more faithful this year. Grant me greater assurance! Create in me a deeper devotion to you!”
Lastly, for all of us believers, this Psalm also reminds us to find our comfort and assurance in God. Every year, we face the same things all over again. Not exactly the same things. Pero ganun pa rin, marami pa rin tayong haharapin na mga pag-subok. May mga lilitaw na issues. Pag-bubuksan mo TV or mag-scroll ka sa Facebook, ang dami pa ring bad news and worldly things. Makikita natin sa paligid, ang dami pa ring corruption, kasalanan, etc.
But take heart Christian, the Lord knows the way of the righteous, the Lord will nourish and keep those who are his. And in the end, God will reject the wicked, but he will welcome us home.
So this year, brothers and sisters… let us keep following Christ, let us keep meditating on his Word, and let us keep our hope in him—for he is our righteousness and he will lead us in the way of righteousness until the end.
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.