The Way of Sinners | Psalm 1:1

nor stands in the way of sinners

Psalm 1:1 ESV

As we have noted, this first verse of Psalm 1 gives us a picture of the blessed man by way of negation, stating what he is not like. It then began by saying that he does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, meaning that he does not live by the advice of those who reject God and His Word. We come now to the second statement: nor stands in the way of sinners…

We should first note how standing differs from walking (insightful, I know!). As we said, walking is frequently used as a figure of speech for how we live our lives. Walking, therefore, implies direct and continual action. Standing, however, is a stationary act, although this makes it no less intentional. In Ephesians 6, Paul calls us four times to stand against the forces of darkness that array themselves against us, as soldiers called to stand their ground at all costs. Used negatively, as it is here, standing implies an intentional presence. The blessed man does not stand in the way of sinners.

Ways or paths of life is a significant theme within the Scriptures, especially within the wisdom literature. This very psalm will end with one final contrast between the ways of the righteous and of the wicked (v. 6). Jesus used this very imagery when He spoke about the easy and hard roads that lead to either broad or narrow gates (Matthew 7:13-14). Proverbs speaks of the path of wisdom versus the path of the fool. In fact, listen to the counsel of Proverbs 4:14-15:

Do not enter the path of the wicked,
            and do not walk in the way of the evil.
Avoid it; do not go on it;
            turn away from it and pass on.

Solomon pleads five times in just two verses for us to avoid the way of the wicked, the path of sinners, and verse 19 explains why: “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” Indeed, as with the adulteress, the steps along this path “go down to death” (Proverbs 6:5). Therefore, the man who stands in the way of sinners is intentionally placing himself along the path to death. He aligns himself with what will surely end in destruction, yet he does not flee.

Consider, then, in what ways are you actively placing yourself in sin’s path? How are you standing in the way that sinner’s go?

Blessed are those who avoid the way of sinners, who turn away from the path of evil and pursue the wisdom and righteousness of the LORD.

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