1 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;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 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.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
This little psalm has a curve ball for the observant reader. Did you catch it in the final verse? All along the psalmist compares the blessed man with the wicked fellow. In the last verse, however, it is not the wicked which perish, but the way of the wicked perishes.
In the third chapter of I Corinthians Paul says that he has laid a good foundation but now it is up to those who follow to build the structure. He wonders whether they will build with stone, gold, gems, and the like or will they build with straw and hay. At the end that paragraph, however, he also surprises us. They are both saved. The house of one man stands on the day of judgment. The other person escapes like a man who flees a burning building, lucky to be alive and with nothing left. But both are saved. David and Paul seem to see something here which is good for us Lutherans to remember. This life in which we live right now is important and has eternal ramifications. God saves us, it is true, despite our sins and foolishness. But is that license to be foolish? God looks upon the way of the righteous man, the man who lives according to commandments and wisdom. Yes, it is by grace we are saved, but God still looks upon this life. The way of the wicked perishes. Do not invest your life in those things which have no place in heaven. They will all pass away. You will be saved, but like a man who escapes a burning building. That way will perish. Rather, invest in love, in service, in the praise of God and the building up of people. Those things are a way which endures in the judgment, a house of precious gems, sturdy timbers, and mighty stones which shall not be shaken.