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Which Way Are You Going? (Part 1 of 2)

You may have heard someone compare life to a journey, talk about the road less traveled, or mention a person being on the wrong path. Have you considered what path your life is following? Just how many paths are there anyway? Don’t we all make our own way? Let’s find out…

The Bible speaks of two ways in life, the Way of the Righteous and the Way of the Ungodly in Psalm 1.* It is interesting that they are not described as good and evil, which one would think if they were to use terms from the Bible. But in the simplest terms, these ways describe those who are right with God (righteous) and those without God (ungodly). So you could use the same words to describe both ways: the Way of the Righteous and Unrighteous or the Way of the Godly and the Ungodly. Dr. Donald R. Hubbard describes these as the God-centered life and the Self-centered life in his speech titled “The Two Ways”. Let’s first look at the Way of the Righteous.

The Way Of The Righteous

... Psalm 1 describes the Way of the Righteous in both positive and negative terms. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;” (Psalm 1:1) First the positive, “Blessed is the man…” or happy is the person in the way of righteousness. This is the path of the God-centered life and Jesus confirmed that it is a blessed life with the Beatitudes listed in His Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5:1-12. How does one receive this blessing or gain this happiness? We’ll answer that throughout this article. For now, let’s consider how Dr. Hubbard pointed out that the blessed life is marked by five distinct characteristics found in Psalm 1. The person with a God-centered focus lives separately (v1), lives studiously (v2), lives steadfastly (v3), lives successfully (v3), and lives securely (v6). Let’s borrow this outline and examine the good life in detail.

Living Separately
... Psalm 1:1 describes blessings for the person who separates his or herself from three negative things: the counsel of the ungodly, the path of sinners, and the seat of the scornful. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;” (Psalm 1:1) What do these mean?

... 1) The “counsel of the ungodly” is simply advice from people who don’t know God. It is only logical that if you want to have a blessed life you should not listen to people who would tell you things contrary to what your Creator intends. Avoiding ungodly counsel is easy if it comes from someone you consider to be a bad person--you would likely ignore it anyway. It is hard when such advice comes from anyone else. Friends, teachers, co-workers can all give advice that sounds good but it could be contrary to God’s instructions and you may never know it! To identify ungodly counsel you NEED TO KNOW what God has said about how to live on His planet. For example, if you never read the Bible, how would you know if prostitution was acceptable or not for consenting adults? (To find out, read Proverbs chapter 5)

... 2) Sinners are people who break God’s law, whether they know it or not and whether they care or not. So the “path of sinners” is the lifestyle of people who break God’s law.

... 3) Scorn means “open dislike and disrespect or derision often mixed with indignation”.1 Thus, the “seat of scornful” describes the attitude of someone who knows God’s law and laughs at it.

... Now if we are traveling on a life journey you could imagine that we would encounter these three negatives in the order they are presented, since they get progressively worse. It makes sense that if you follow bad advice, you will have problems (financial, legal, moral, etc.). Once you’ve been diverted from the way you should be going, sinners who have traveled the road before you will be standing around to keep you company and tell you “it’s okay”. After getting comfortable with sin, you will sit down on the couch with the scorners and mock God. Is it any wonder that suffering will soon follow?

... Naturally, the person walking in the Way of Righteousness will avoid these things. This person separates his or herself from ungodly advice, living with sinners, and partying with scorners. In doing so, one has taken the first step in preparing for blessings and happiness. What is the next step?

Living Studiously
... Psalm 1:2 describes the person who studies the Word of God. “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2) If you want to have a blessed life you must take delight in, or enjoy the law of God, which is the Bible. So much so that you think about it throughout the day and want to study it. You may say, how can anyone enjoy reading an old book? Well, ask yourself, how can anyone enjoy a movie or a sporting event? You cultivate an appetite. Think about it, when you were a young kid you could care less about sports or movies until someone showed you such activities were fun or interesting. You had to learn to catch a ball or follow a plot before you could enjoy these things. Similarly with the Bible, you have to learn to like it by developing a curiosity for what God has said. (Deuteronomy 6:7) Once you do that, you will be able to take delight in “the law of Lord”. Are you interested in the things of God? Naturally, God is happy to bless those who are interested in Him. And what is the first blessing?

Living Steadfastly
... Psalm 1:3 describes the person who is steadfast or stands strong. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:3) The individual walking in the Way of Righteousness is like a tree planted by the river. Such a tree has the nourishment needed to send down deep roots and grow strong. When the storms of life come, this tree can withstand the wind, and the rain only provides more nourishment for its roots. This reminds us of Jesus’ parable about the wise and foolish men who build their houses on a rock and sand respectively. When the storm came, the wise man’s house stood strong because it had a good foundation. The foolish man’s house collapsed because the shifting sand offered no support against wind and rain. (Matthew 7:24-27) What is your life built on, do you have a solid foundation? Can you stand strong in the storms of life or will you be blown away? If you are living steadfastly, you will also be set up for another blessing…

Living Successfully
... Psalm 1:3 also describes the person who is successful. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:3) The same tree that is steadfast and will not move, is a productive and fruitful tree. We easily recognize productive people as those who are successful. This type of man or woman is prosperous in each endeavor. Yes, those who walk in the Way of Righteousness will be blessed with prosperity. Keep in mind that prosperity has more meanings than just being rich. Jesus reminds us of this when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b) Jesus came to give abundant life, not money. God only promises riches in Heaven. He MAY give riches on Earth, but certainly the Lord prospers His people in many other ways—health, relationships, family, peace, joy, etc. Such prosperity cannot be purchased and only comes from God.

Living Securely
... Psalm 1:6 gives a picture of the security that people who walk in the Way of Righteousness are offered. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Psalm 1:6) How does it feel to know that someone who loves you and knows the way you are going is watching over you? If he knows the way and is giving you directions, is there any need to fear going into danger or harm? Friends, God knows the way of the righteous and He directs and protects His followers in that way—that is real security. This is in contrast to the way of the ungodly—their path is outside of God’s protection and blessing. Are you living securely? Do you know for sure that God is watching over you?


... Psalm 1 tells us about two paths in life—the Way of Righteousness and the Way of the Ungodly. While people may think there are many ways to live, in reality, every path is either with God or without God. In our next article, we’ll examine the life without God. In this article, we’ve seen how people who walk in the Way of Righteousness live separate, studious, steadfast, successful, and secure lives. Ask yourself, are these characteristics yours? If not, start reading the Bible and ask God to help you understand it so you can walk in the Way of Righteousness. The first step on that path is to let Jesus be your guide (find out how at About Jesus).

* Some Bible translations will use the word “wicked” in place of ungodly, and while that conjures a different picture in the modern mind, the actual meaning is the same. The Hebrew word translated “ungodly” means “morally wrong” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Hebrew dictionary reference number 7563). If you look up “wicked” in the dictionary, the first definition is “morally very bad” (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition). Thus, one can see the similarity of the wording used in different Bible translations.

1 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed, 1996

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