Every time I read Psalm 1, it takes me back several years to a time when my youngest daughter had a guinea pig who needed to go to the vet. I drove him to the office, and carefully carried him down the sidewalk to the entrance. Then I noticed that there were two sidewalks and two entrances: one marked “Dogs” and the other marked “Cats.” I stood there, looking confused, and tried to decide if Gus was more dog or cat. I spotted the vet tech laughing at me as she stood in the window that was between the two doors. When she caught my eye, she pointed toward the Cat door. Makes sense when you think about it, since cats arrive in cages and dogs arrive on foot.
That little moment reminded me that we are often confronted with two choices, and the path that we choose will determine what happens next. We have a choice to do good or do evil. We have a choice to offer compassion or ignore people’s needs. We have a choice to work for the betterment of our community or stay home and leech off of other people’s efforts. We have a choice to uplift or condemn. We have a choice to follow God or ignore him.
Psalm 1 offers a clear delineation of two choices. You can be a wicked and disrespectful sinner, or you can be a happy person who knows God’s word and follows God’s instruction:
Psalm 1 (Common English Bible)
The truly happy person
doesn’t follow wicked advice,
doesn’t stand on the road of sinners,
and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.
2 Instead of doing those things,
these persons love the Lord’s Instruction,
and they recite God’s Instruction day and night!
3 They are like a tree replanted by streams of water,
which bears fruit at just the right time
and whose leaves don’t fade.
Whatever they do succeeds.
The Psalmist is clear in describing the results of your choices. People who follow God bear fruit and are successful, but woe unto the wicked:
4 That’s not true for the wicked!
They are like dust that the wind blows away.
5 And that’s why the wicked will have no standing in the court of justice—
neither will sinners
in the assembly of the righteous.
6 The Lord is intimately acquainted
with the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked is destroyed.
Not everything in life is so black and white, unfortunately. The path isn’t always so clearly marked as it was at the vet’s office. Many people find themselves going down a wrong path after making an ill-considered choice.
That’s when it is time to look at the window in the middle. Christ himself stands there, ready to re-direct, forgive, and help us back on the right path.
Have you strayed from the place where God put you? Have you wandered away and lost your footing?
The good news for us today it that there is always a way back. Trust, obey, and come on in. The door to happiness and salvation is always open. Thanks be to God!