Will we believe God and seek counsel from godly people, or will we be deceived by the ways of the wicked?
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)
"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked." This verse draws an important distinction on the topic of counsel. Believers are blessed when they are not receiving counsel from the wicked, people who are morally corrupt. Conversely, they are blessed when receiving counsel from those who are virtuous, people with high moral standing.
Whatever our particular situation, most of us are in constant communication with other people. Thus, seeking counsel is a part of everyday living as we strive to live lives worthy of Christ, and also live as productive citizens.
Therefore, we can glean much from this verse in Psalms. In order to understand what the text suggests, first we have to understand the context. We need to understand what the author here regards as wicked as opposed to moral, and just where God fits into all of this.
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The Context of Psalm 1 and 'Blessed Is the Man Who Does Not Walk in the Counsel of the Wicked'
Of all the numerous authors cited in the Book of Psalms, Psalm 1 is written by an unknown person. The overall message here is that walking righteously leads to blessings, and walking unrighteously leads to ruin. What influences us in our walk is where we seek counsel.
The passage begins by detailing an individual as “one,” saying that this one person will be blessed if they do not walk alongside the main crowd, which the author regards as “wicked” and “sinners” (Psalm 1:1). The one person reaps the blessings of the Lord by clinging to what the Lord teaches day and night.
What does it mean to “meditate” on God’s law day and night?
As an example, children learn gratitude from their parents. While they may encourage children to practice gratitude even when they are not around, children are not told to meditate on manners all day, at the expense of playtime and interactions with other children. In our case, we can meditate on how God wants us to live, but we don’t sit at home studying all day at the expense of living out His Word.
The psalm continues by explaining that when the individual believer separates himself from the wicked, he become prosperous. The believer is compared to a fruitful tree planted by water (Psalm 1:3). This is more evidence of the blessings reaped when avoiding wickedness. The same is not true for the wicked who are likened as “chaff” and blown away by the wind (Psalm 1:4).
These outcomes for both the just and the wicked are highlighted at the end of the passage. God is mentioned by name, and indicated as watching over the righteous. This is the protection He offers, but the wicked simply find destruction (Psalm 1:4).
'Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked' - how is this possible?
This verse teaches us that there are multiple ways we are blessed when not counseled by the wicked.
One benefit is receiving godly wisdom. The wicked are not people close to God, but people who are very much apart from Him. By pursuing God we can find ourselves drawing near to Him and receiving His wisdom as a result. God’s wisdom yields the second benefit—fruit. As the writer likens the believer to a tree with fruit, we bear fruit that benefits ourselves and others. A tree with fruit is not only a sign of good health, but the fruit can be used to benefit its environment. The same applies to us. Lastly, God protects those who seek the appropriate counsel. As the last verse indicates, God watches over all of us. He protects those trying to do right, but will bring judgment upon those who are doing wrong.
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5 Practical Ways to Seek Godly Counsel and become 'blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked'
1. Pray first to God
When the Bible tells us to “pray always,” that includes the moments when we are seeking wisdom (1 Thessalonians 5:17). An important question for any believer to consider is, who do they turn to first when making an important decision? Do we seek a friend, a parent, a pastor, or God? Or how do we determine whether we are living good lives? Do we seek the affirmation of others or God?
People can offer insight, sometimes very wise insight, but there is no one who knows more than God (Proverbs 2:6). For this reason God should be the first we consult.
2. Be Skeptical
Christians must be careful who they look to for counsel, because not everyone pursues a righteous way of life. Sometimes it’s clear, and sometimes not so clear, to know who to trust. If we practice discernment in what we hear and receive, we can protect ourselves.
Being skeptical does not simply mean not believing someone. Instead, being skeptical involves listening to someone, asking questions about the information and verifying.
We can verify information as Christians by praying to God after an important conversation and testing someone’s insight against Scripture. Do their words hold up or are they speaking in ways contradictory to the Bible?
3. Cast A Narrow Net
In scripture Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Most of us instinctively love ourselves. In a similar way, if most people were wise, the Bible would not encourage us to pursue wisdom (Proverbs 3:13). If most people are not wise, then we should not be going to most people about our problems.
Sometimes as Christians, our suffering is so intense that we are willing to take on any help possible to deal with a particular problem. The issue with this approach is that not everyone will have the wisdom we need. When we cast a net of people to give us insight, the net should be narrow, not wide. Wisdom is infrequent, not widespread in society,
By limiting our sources of information, we will find ourselves less confused and hopefully following a godly example.
4. Think before Acting
Similar to being skeptical, even in scenarios where we trust others or trust ourselves, we should think before acting. Sometimes we can cause harm to others or even ourselves despite having good intentions. If we take the time to process important decisions, then we can increase our chances of choosing what is good. Part of thinking before we act includes praying to God, going to Scripture, often more than once.
5. Wisdom versus Folly
Just as the Bible draws distinctions between people, people will always draw divisions between each other. What one man considers moral, another may call immoral. As Christians, we can ensure we are in agreement about morality by not defining morality according to our own standards. Rather, we should strive to live by the standards described in Scripture.
God decides what is right and wrong, what is virtue and what is sin (James 4:17). Not us. If we can recognize this truth, then we will benefit just as the author says in Psalm 1. We will be blessed because we walk not according to man, but according to God. While hearing such a sentiment may sound both arbitrary and trite, a better interpretation would be to see these words as a promise. God does bless those who seek after Him, which Scripture repeats time and time again in Psalm 23, Matthew 6.
Will we believe God and seek counsel from godly people, or will we be deceived by the ways of the wicked? The choice is ours, but the right decision couldn’t be clearer.
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Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.