Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
UNITY OF THE PROPER:
The connection this week is obvious between the 1st lesson and the gospel. The only real difference between what is being said is the order in which it’s said. Jesus begins by speaking about the blessed righteous and concludes with the woes of the wicked and Jeremiah is the opposite. The theme that runs through both is who does the Lord bless and who does the Lord curse? The answer is one that is foreign to conventional wisdom of the World. Love your enemy, rejoice in suffering, be patient in trials and afflictions. How? Stay in the Word, cling to it. It is there that we see our savior, it is there that we learn of eternal life, it is there we build our faith. For this reason I’m preaching on Psalm 1 this week. It is the first thing taught in the psalms. And the Psalm resounds with the teachings of both Jeremiah and Jesus. It was a song that taught an important truth and one that Jeremiah as the son of a priest and Jesus the son of God would’ve known very well.
1 אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי־הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר׀ לֹ֥א הָלַךְ֮ בַּעֲצַ֪תa רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְb חַ֭טָּאִים לֹ֥א עָמָ֑ד וּבְמֹושַׁ֥ב לֵ֝צִ֗ים לֹ֣א יָשָֽׁב׃
Blessed the man who does not walk in the council of the wicked or in the way of sinners he does not stand and in the assembly of the scorner he does not sit.
Grammar Note: There is the idea of a progression here, Walking, (הָלַךְ֮) standing (עָמָ֑ד) and sitting (יָשָֽׁב). The picture is of a man who slowly begins to listen to the wicked. Also, it is singular, the image of a man of God who is outnumbered by his enemies.
This is the very first psalm. The message herein would’ve been well known both by Jeremiah and Jesus. Essentially, it is the same message that we here in both the 1st lesson and Gospel for this Sunday. The poetry is very telling here and speaks volumes.
The thought that immediately comes to mind here is Luther’s comment about the bird flying over your head as opposed to a bird making a nest in your hair. Here though, it’s a bit different. A man may begin by walking along and talking, entertaining the ideas about what the wicked say, but still has the ability to veer away from them. But the picture the Psalmist paints here is of a guy who not only walks, with the wicked for a time, but then stands amongst sinners, and finally becomes one who ridicules as he firmly sits or literally dwells amongst the scorners.
2 כִּ֤י אִ֥ם בְּתֹורַ֥ת יְהוָ֗ה חֶ֫פְצֹ֥ו וּֽבְתֹורָתֹ֥ו יֶהְגֶּ֗ה יֹומָ֥ם וָלָֽיְלָה׃
But rather, in the Law of the Lord is his delight. And on his Law he mutters day and night.
The word “mutters” here is interesting in contrast to how this psalm opened. It’s seemingly humble. It’s not the loud boisterous blathering of a scorner. One has the image of someone quietly reading through Scripture here. Sitting down and pondering, muttering through the verses of God’s Word is where this person finds solace. Not in the seeming excitement of the wicked.
3 וְֽהָיָ֗ה כְּעֵץ֮ שָׁת֪וּל עַֽל־פַּלְגֵ֫י מָ֥יִם אֲשֶׁ֤רa פִּרְיֹ֨ו׀ יִתֵּ֬ן בְּעִתֹּ֗ו וְעָלֵ֥הוּ לֹֽא־יִבֹּ֑ול bוְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה יַצְלִֽיחַb׃
And thus he’s like a tree transplanted on a canal of water which its fruit it gives in season and its leaves wither not and all which he does prospers
Qal, pass. Pt. – “transplanted” NOTE: NOT planted! Rather Transplanted! God plants us by streams of water. Out from the roots of sin, and planted by a CANAL! A place where there is always water.
Noun – but this is not a river that run the risk of a dry season or drought. Rather it’s a canal, one that is artificially fed like an irrigation ditch that is specifically meant to supply water even when the rest of the land is dried out.
In the first verse we are shown that the wicked plants themselves down amongst their ilk. The second verse is a progression of thought to a quiet moment of a person reading scripture. And this third verse is an illustration of what that looks like poetically. The believer has been taken by the LORD and planted in the Word. That word, is endless water.
4 לֹא־כֵ֥ן הָרְשָׁעִ֑יםa כִּ֥י אִם־כַּ֝מֹּ֗ץ אֲֽשֶׁר־תִּדְּפֶ֥נּוּ רֽוּחַb׃
Not so the wicked since they’re like chaff which is blown by the wind.
Continuing on with this plant imagery, the believer is planted and firmly embedded and not driven about. The wicked, the unbelievers, are tossed about by every light breeze. Their minds are fickle and can never rest as they endlessly search about for answers. They search after the moral or the virtuous in vain. What is the point of virtue for the sake of virtue alone? With a morality that can change based on a human will or feeling or impulse, virtue is relative and subject to change.
5 עַל־כֵּ֤ן׀ לֹא־יָקֻ֣מוּ רְ֭שָׁעִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּ֑ט וְ֝חַטָּאִ֗ים בַּעֲדַ֥תa צַדִּיקִֽים׃
Therefore, the wicked will not rise in the judgment or the sinner in the assembly of the righteous.
- Not “amad” not standing, rather rising, they will not be able to stand, they won’t even be able to get up…
6 כִּֽי־יֹודֵ֣עַ יְ֭הוָה דֶּ֣רֶךְ צַדִּיקִ֑ים וְדֶ֖רֶךְ רְשָׁעִ֣ים תֹּאבֵֽד׃
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
THOUGHTS – v. 5-6
The poem ends the way it began only from a different angle. Instead of the wicked standing and walking, they are physically able to stand up in the presence of God’s judgment. Nor can the sinner be considered able to even stand in the presence of the righteous. They are blown about like chaff, remember! That way will be blown away and forgotten.
Malady – The temptation to slowly but surely give in to the council of the wicked. To take the wide and comfortable path. To see virtue as an end in and of itself – that is the fools road. There is no solid soil there, nothing to sink roots into.
Virtue – remaining connected to the vine, drinking in and loving the Word of God.
CURE – Believers have been planted, transplanted that is, by God in his Word. Here we hear of our salvation in Jesus. Here we hear of eternal life. Here we learn, because of the aforementioned, how to love our neighbor. It’s not virtue for the sake of virtue! Rather, virtue for the sake of Jesus.
Take the Road less traveled.
- Resist Sin
- Love the Word
- Bear fruit