There are consequences to men who do not understand their place in relation to God. Too often men seek their own counsel, and pay no respect to the One who made them. “Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord, and their works are in the dark; they say, ‘Who sees us?’ and, ‘Who knows us?’ Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; for shall the thing made say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me’? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” (Isaiah, 29:15-16).
We are, in fact, totally dependent upon God to reveal to us what is right, and most importantly, what pleases Him. Left to ourselves, we wallow in ignorance. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25). Instead, with the prophet, we should declare, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
We are fortunate that God chose to communicate His will to us. He did so through the scriptures. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If we desire God’s blessings, we must study and meditate upon His will for us.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).
Two components are mentioned by the Psalmist that are important for knowing God’s will. The first is study. The blessed man delights in God’s law. He knows its value, and determines to familiarize himself with it. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:7-9).
The second is meditation, “in His law he meditates day and night.” The Hebrew term is rightly translated by ‘meditate’ or ‘ponder.’ The term does not equate to the eastern process of emptying the mind. Rather, it is properly defined as: “To think deeply or carefully about (something). To plan mentally; consider.” It is not enough to have a knowledge of God’s will for man. The principles that are learned must be deeply considered, as they pertain to day to day circumstances in our lives. Without developing discernment, learning God’s will remains a theological exercise rather than a life changing accomplishment. It is not surprising that the man of God is constantly planning to ensure his actions and words conform to the will of His creator.
Consider that the Psalmist does this rather than walking “in the counsel of the ungodly.” The views of men typically conflict with God’s word. James understood this, contrasting divine wisdom with the wisdom of man. While men bring envy, selfishness and confusion, divine wisdom is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). The man of God realizes the superiority of God’s ways, and limits himself by submitting to Him.
In contrast, consider the end of those who reject God’s counsel. “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:4-6). It is important to consider how insulting and rebellious it is to disregard God. This is seen in His reaction to those who do. “Therefore I will number you for the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight” (Isaiah 65:12). There is no more self-destructive behavior than ignoring or rejecting God’s will for you.
So, what steps can we take to ensure we are pleasing God? Study daily! Delight in God’s word, and seek to become familiar with it. Figure out the principles that enable us to always be “rightly dividing the word of truth” (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15). Internalize those principles, readying them for application through meditation!
How can we meditate? Find a quiet place, and then consider how past mistakes could have been avoided by applying what we have learned from God’s word. Then think about what is going on in our lives presently. How might what we have learned be applied to our benefit today? Lastly, think about future scenarios where the truths we have learned may be applied. That way when the possible becomes real, we will be prepared to handle ourselves in a righteous manner. If we do this with each new thing we learn, we certainly will not be disappointed!
We are dependent upon God’s word. Fortunately, it is well able to thoroughly furnish us for His service!