Posted under The Rectory Bulletin
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He 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 wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 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. (Psalm 1:1–6)
The book of Psalms opens with a word of caution. Be careful where you walk, be cautious about your company. Think! To whom are you listening? What company are you keeping? The issue is influence, about being careful about what we read and what we watch. It is realising that we are shaped by what we view. The wicked, the sinners and the scoffers are to be avoided.
There is a progression at play in these opening verses. The Psalm opens with someone walking, but should they begin to walk in the “counsel of the wicked” they will end up standing in the “way of sinners”. The walking has ceased, and following bad counsel has led to sin. This in turn leads to a sitting down, making the inactivity more certain. The one who “stands in the way of sinners” soon “sits in the seat of scoffers”. Such is the path to spiritual inertia - it leads to sitting on the sidelines, scoffing at those who go by.
So much of our life is seen through screens, especially as we are told to stay at home. This Psalm reminds us that these screens (or the radio speakers) are not neutral and that we would do well to be discerning about what we watch or listen to. Not only are our moods affected by this, but also our attitudes and our hearts. Better to follow the advice of the Apostle:
whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)