The psalms were songs sung by the Hebrews through the generations. While we know David wrote the majority of psalms, we see men like Moses, Solomon, Asaph, the Korahites, and others also penning these inspired songs. The psalms are true faith-building writings and worthy of our reading and study. These collected works have a context, and it would do us well to consider the teachings, the poetry, and the wisdom contained therein.
The first psalm clearly distinguishes between the righteous and wicked (v. 1, 4). This impresses me as I note that God says this is a distinction we can understand. Take note of many of our movies, TV shows, written works, games, internet shows, etc., and see how so many “good guys” also entertain doing evil when necessary. Further, it is not uncommon to see some “bad guys” portrayed as lovable or even “misunderstood.” The “white hats” and “black hats” that populated our entertainment in bygone days no longer exist! No wonder our children are not sure what is right and wrong when they are influenced by popular media daily! Parents, where are you (Eph. 6:4)? Christians, where are you (Matt. 5:14-16)?
Let us return to the Bible. Read Psalm 1 to your children today. Read it today for your personal application (Rom. 15:4)! When you do, you will see a clear distinction between the righteous and wicked (Ps. 1:1, 4). The difference in the kind of lives these men live could not be more apparent after reading this psalm! One lives a life of stability and focus (v. 3). He will prosper! The other lives a life of uncertainty and loss (v. 4)! Further, you will be shown what makes the righteous man righteous (v. 2-3) and the wicked man wicked (v. 4-5). Lastly, we are shown the results of righteous and wicked living (v. 3, 6).
Psalm 1 demands our attention and study (“day and night,” v. 2). Let us take time to consider this psalm well and then compare it to the teachings of Christ and the apostles. We will see the connections right away and see how it is best to do things the Lord’s way. Would God consider you a godly or ungodly person? Why did you answer the way you did? Compare yourself to Psalm 1 and see God’s definition of godly and ungodly, of who is “blessed” and who is “cursed”!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Jeremiah is well-known for being “the weeping prophet.” Passages such as Jeremiah 4:19, 9:1, 13:16-17, and 14:17 make it clear that this description was well-earned. Make no mistake; his crying was not because he was some wimpy, weak character. He was not crying for fear, or some selfish reason, or because he was ashamed. Instead, he wept over the sins of the people of Israel. Similarly, we see Jesus doing this when He was on earth. In fact, He was referred to as the “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3; Matt. 26:37; Luke 19:41; John 11:35).
Jeremiah wept over the sins of the people. I suggest that the language he uses shows he thought himself unable to cry a sufficient amount over the sins committed in his land. In Jeremiah 9:1, it is written, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
Compare Jeremiah’s attitude toward sin with the “majority’s” attitude. Let me also challenge you to compare how the brethren act toward sin today with how Jeremiah acted toward sin in his day. Jeremiah wanted to cry and wished his eyes could be a “fountain” to cry over the sins committed by God’s people continually. He understood that sin was not a joke or a game. Sin is not a myth or something made up to scare children into behaving. Sin is real, and it is deadly (Jas. 1:15)! The passage that teaches us that “Fools make a mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9) is still true!
Why did Jeremiah weep over the people’s sin? All one has to do is look into Scripture and see how God describes sin to know why it is a cause for crying. Below are four descriptions. God describes sin as:
- An indelible stain (Isa. 1:18)
- A heavy weight (Heb. 12:1)
- A trespass (Eph. 2:1)
- Putrifying sores (Isa. 1:6)
How could this not make us cry if we saw someone in this condition physically (stained, wounded, filled with sores, etc.)? Though we cannot see the spiritual effects of sin, when God looks upon us, He sees it! We see the effects of sin when we see the physical results. When we see the drug addict and the wino, when we see the person who has STDs or suffering from the torture of having killed a baby through abortion, we see the effects of sin in people’s lives. When we see the person who is racked with guilt because he has stolen from others or has been abusive to a child or spouse, we see someone suffering with the consequences of sin. Our jails are filled with those who broke man’s law, but if we look closely, many have also broken God’s law!
I say this not with arrogance, but in the spirit of Jeremiah – how we might wish our heads were waters and our eyes were a fountain of tears to be able to weep over what we see in our generation in this country! Oh that we might weep over the sins committed by brethren at times! We have Christians that ought to know better, but they still commit sins before God. Let us remember that sin is as deadly for the Christian as for the non-Christian (Ezek. 18:20; Jas. 1:15). It is not a game or a joke and will lead us to Hell finally if we do not repent. Is that not another reason that tears might flow? Let them flow for the ones who seem determined to go to Hell and will not make a change (Matt. 7:13)!
God stands ready and willing to accept those who will come to Him (Matt. 11:28-30; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; II Pet 3:9; Rev. 22:14). Who will do it? Should not this fact motivate us to go and find those who are lost and bring them to the Lord before it is too late? Let us be encouraged to find them! Let our tears not cause us to quit, but through tears, let us be motivated with an urgency to tell lost souls about the Lord before it is too late!
Jeremiah teaches us that there is no shame in weeping when we are weeping over the right things!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). God had to deal with false teachers in this time, trying to assure the people of “peace and safety” when no such thing was coming. Not in the immediate future, anyway! Jeremiah would face the false teacher, Hananiah, in Jeremiah 28, who claimed God would return the people from Babylon in “two full years” rather than the actual 70 years God had said (Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10; Dan. 9:2)! Again, here is a man trying to proclaim “Peace” and “Everything will be all right” (NET) when that wasn’t the case at all.
Why might men like Hananiah and others want to tell people such falsehoods as “peace peace”? Could it be they thought men might pay them more to hear the pleasant message? Maybe they thought they would be more popular with the people? We know a message of victory and winning is much more popular than a message saying that we will lose! Jeremiah had the unenviable task of telling Judah that the best thing for them to do is give up and accept the punishment and be patient for 70 years (Jer. 27:1-11)! Who wants to have that job?
Jeremiah had an unpopular job, but it was for the best. His message was from God (Jer. 28:9, 15-17); the others’ messages were not. In like manner, we face an uphill battle because “Peace, peace” is the more popular message! Just as in Jeremiah’s day, Paul warned of people who would “not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4). Does this sound like the attitude we see among people today? Yes, it is alive well today, just as it was in days gone by!
We must make a choice. Will we listen to those who call and cry for “peace” when there is no peace? Yes, we ought to strive for peace with God and peace among others (Matt. 5:9). Yet, remember that Christ said His kingdom would bring a “sword” among the closest of family (Matt. 10:21-22, 34-39). There is no “peace” to be had between God and Satan. They are diametrically opposed, as are their teachings (II Cor. 6:14-17). Let us stop trying to be a friend of God and a friend of the world when this is impossible (Jas. 4:4). It is high time we spoke the message of the Lord, that will hurt some, but bring healing to all in the end, as Paul did on the ship (Acts 27:10). At Ephesus, Paul said he spent three years preaching “all the counsel of God” and warning people, “night and day with tears” (Acts 20:27, 31). I wonder why Paul was crying? I wonder if he made those listening cry sometimes? What if it was a little of both? Why would Paul preach a message that caused people to “cry,” that made people “tremble” (Acts 24:25), and that caused some to run him out of town (Acts 17:10-15)? Wouldn’t it have been easier just to tell people, “peace, peace”? We could ask Jeremiah the same question. Isn’t it easier to just say, “peace, peace”?
We know what is easier to say, but it does not mean it is a better message. The best message is the message that comes from the Lord (Jn. 17:17). The best message is the one that has not been diluted by men’s thoughts and feelings (Gal. 1:6-10). The best message is the message that tells us what to do to be saved and then encourages us to continue to be faithful to God (Acts 2:37-38; I Cor. 15:58; Matt. 7:13-14)!
“Peace, peace” is, in our vernacular, sugar-coating the truth! As a friend of mine says, if you want sugar-coating, eat a doughnut! If you want the truth, listen to the Lord’s words (I Pet. 4:11; Jn. 17:17), and be ready to repent and to obey (Jas. 1:22-25)! Jeremiah preached the truth, but people didn’t want to hear this and were destroyed. You and I have a chance to listen to God’s word and obey (Ecc. 12:13). What will you do? Now is the time to decide!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The man called to raised Jesus stands out to me. He was not chosen randomly any more than Christ’s mother was chosen randomly (Lk. 1:28-38). Joseph was not only “just” but a conscientious person who considered his actions carefully (Matt. 1:19-20). He was also a patient person, as he knew not his wife until she had given birth to Jesus (Matt. 1:25). He led by example, and though we are privy to his thoughts in Matthew, Joseph never actually speaks in the book! Like Abel, “he being dead, yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
Another thing that impresses me about Joseph is his lineage. In the section of Matthew, “we” tend to skip (Matt. 1:1-17), we learn that Joseph comes from a long line of kings, beginning with David (Matt. 1:6). Think of it – some 1000 years before Joseph was born, David lived and died. All those kings we read about in the Old Testament were leading up to Joseph’s time (Matt. 1:18)! What might have been a source of pride to men was not even mentioned after Matthew 1! While we read of some speaking of Jesus as being the “Son of David,” most of those who did denied this truth.
Joseph was an unassuming man living in an obscure town (Jn. 1:46). Yet, when the time came, he stepped up to the challenge of raising God’s Son! He is a good example for us today and deserves more credit than he gets much of the time! Among the outstanding characteristics he had, let’s also understand that he was an obedient man. He was obedient by staying with Mary and then by naming her son Jesus (Matt. 1:24-25). He might have been tempted to call Him “Joseph Jr.” or another name from the family. Instead, He obeyed God and gave Him the name God demanded (Matt. 1:21).
This man teaches us much by his actions. Will we take the time to learn? How might our lives change? How might they improve if we lived a life of obedience, patience, conscientiousness, and humility like Joseph? Live like Joseph for a month and see how your life improves. You will never want to return to your old way of living.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs