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.
The young man sat in his pastor’s office, and the two of them stared at each other for a while before either of them spoke. The fact that he and the pastor were there was a compromise, agreed to by the social worker and the prosecutor because the young man was cooperative. He had been in the pastor’s confirmation class not that many years before. They knew each other. The pastor liked him. He was a bright young man. His was a complicated family to say the least. And now a younger member of the family had levelled a serious charge against him, sexual abuse. The young man did not deny it.
Before the pastor lay a paper form provided by the prosecutor and the social worker from DFS. It was a series of interview questions which the Pastor had to ask, and the young man had to answer. Yes and no questions. Did you do this, did you do that. It was very specific. By the end of that brutal hour, the pastor knew exactly what had happened.
The prosecutor was a Christian man. He normally would not have agreed to this interview being conducted by anyone but an officer of the state, but the accused was cooperative and remorseful. The prosecutor knew that this young man needed something which would follow that difficult interview, something which only God could give. Afterwards, the young man and the pastor wept together. They spoke of what he had done. Of his need to seek the forgiveness of his family, including the people most affected. He would still have to face consequences. The young man realized that, even welcomed it as a means for him to answer for what he had done, but in that office that evening he wanted to know if God could love him still.
The last line of the psalm is a bit of a surprise. The LORD knows the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked will perish. This young man desperately wanted to know if his wicked past would hang onto him forever. Surely in this life, it might have a tenacious grip on him. But there is more to life. In Christ, the wicked themselves do not perish. The wicked way perishes. It meets its righteous end in judgment and the wrath of God, but sinners, the wicked, are forgiven. Yes, God loves and forgives and the wicked way perishes to the delight of the forgiven sinner.