It is not so long since “blessed” was nearly a good word gone bad in popular speak. It was more than a cliché for many with no great spiritual interest to announce on social media that they were #blessed. It was smug bragging about success thinly disguised as humility. It gave the message that outward prosperity is true blessing. Perhaps people do feel as blessed as their Facebook status declares but have they understood that spiritual blessings are paramount (Matthew 5:3–5)? In reality there is no true blessing without godliness.
David Dickson draws this clear teaching from Psalm 1. This Psalm teaches that no ungodly person is blessed, only the godly (verses 1-2). This is proved by three reasons. The first is because God blesses the godly even in this life (and in every state of life) with grace to produce good works that profitable to themselves and others (verse 3). But all that the wicked do for making themselves happy, shall be blasted and found to be mere vanity (verse 4).
1. Only the Godly are Blessed
1. Blessedness is possible. Although sin and misery abound: blessedness may still be attained. God here pronounces some to be blessed.
2. Blessedness is only possible in God’s way. This psalm divides all men (within and without the visible church) into godly men (that seek to be blessed in God’s way) and ungodly men (who seek blessedness – but not in God’s way). They are all ranked in this way here.
3. Blessedness is defined by God alone. Only God can define who is blessed since He is the only one that can make someone blessed. He here pronounces the godly to be the blessed.
4. Blessedness and ungodly counsel cannot go together. The ungodly think themselves very wise in following the counsel of their own heart and of others like themselves so that they may be blessed. But this is not the way of the blessed man, he does not walk in “the counsel of the ungodly”.
5. Blessedness and sin will not go together. The ungodly obstinately continue in their course of sinning, but the blessed man (if he is overtaken in some sin) does not defend his sin, nor persist in it. He does not stand in “the way of sinners”.
6. Blessedness and irreligion cannot go together. The ungodly may go as far as to mock godliness as mere folly and scorn admonitions and reproofs. Yet the blessed man never hardens his heart so as to mock piety in others or instruction offered. He does not sit in “the seat of the scornful”.
7. Blessedness comes through Scripture’s counsel. The blessed man makes the Word of God in holy Scripture his counsellor concerning the remedy of sin and misery. This is the rule by which he walks until his blessedness is perfected. Scripture to him is a law for the obedience of faith which is fenced with supreme authority. It is “the law of the Lord”.
8. Blessedness comes through profiting from the Word. To the extent that a man is godly and blessed, he makes the Word of God the way of growing in communion with God through the Messiah, Christ. He makes the Word the matter of his chief delight and contentment. His “delight is in the law of the Lord”.
9. Blessedness comes from meditating on the Word. To the extent that a man delights in the law of the Lord, he studies in it on all occasions. He meditates in God’s law “day and night”.
2. Only the Godly are Blessed with Grace to Produce Good Works
The godly are blessed with grace to bring forth good works that are profitable to themselves and others in every condition of life.
1. The blessing of increased grace. To the extent that a man pursues holy communion with God by delighting and meditating in His Word, he will be fixed and furnished with the influence of grace from Christ. This will maintain spiritual life within him. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water”.
2. The blessing of fruitfulness. The man that makes the Word of God his delight will be made fruitful in every good work, as opportunity is offered. He will be like a tree bringing forth fruit in due season.
3. The blessing of perseverance. This man shall be enabled to bear out a holy profession of his faith in, and obedience to God, in adversity, as well as in prosperity. “His leaf also shall not wither”.
4. The blessing of God’s favour. Whatever duty or service to God this man sets about, will not lack the help and acceptance nor success from God. Whatever he does will “prosper”.
5. These blessings do not belong to the ungodly. The ungodly man is destitute of all spiritual life (no matter what he may seem to be before the world) and a stranger to the fellowship of God’s grace. He is unfit for every good work and ready under great temptation to abandon his counterfeit profession of religion. He is cursed in all that he does because he is the opposite of what the blessed godly man is here said to be. “The ungodly are not so”.
6. The “blessings” of the ungodly are unreal. Whatever appearance of godliness, temporal prosperity, or hope of happiness the ungodly seem to have, it will be found only counterfeit. It will not stand him in good stead at all in his greatest need. The ungodly are like “the chaff” which the wind blows away.