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; Psalm 1:1 (NKJV)
Notice how the psalmist begins. Why not just say, “Don’t be ungodly, don’t sin, and don’t scorn”? It is because he is drawing attention to where our influence comes from and the power of influence. In a way what he is saying is, “Don’t be influenced by the ungodly because that will lead you taking part in their activities and their attitudes.” The idea of ungodly here is basically just someone who isn’t saved. It is someone that doesn’t have God in their lives.
Notice the progression in this verse. First there is walking in the counsel of the ungodly. When you walk through someplace you are not there very long. Once you’ve walked through something enough you may choose to stand around in it. When you stop walking through somewhere and stand around you’re there a little longer. Finally after you’ve walked through it enough and you’ve stood around in it a lot you eventually join in on the activities. When you take part of the activities long enough you begin to share in attitudes of those around you and not just the activities. There is a progression in the involvement of sin.
There is also a progression in the people doing the influencing. First we have ungodly, which someone who is without God. Then you have a sinner, which is someone who is not only without God but also involved in sinful activities. Then it progresses to the scornful who is not only without God and involved in sinful activities but mocking anything sacred. The person who walks in the counsel of the ungodly will eventually stand around with sinners, and once we have given ourselves over to stand and live in sin we will soon join in with scornful.
There is a very definite progression in departing from the path of life given in this verse. This progression starts by being influenced by the wrong sources. The Bible gives us some clear warnings about who we are letting influence us and where we are getting our counsel from.
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20 (NKJV)
“Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.” Proverbs 22:24-25 (NKJV)
As parents we are careful to tell our children that they need to be careful about the friends they hang out with because we know that their friends can get them into trouble. What we need to realize is that this is also true for us.
“The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, But the heart of the fool does not do so.” Proverbs 15:7 (NKJV)
“The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little.” Proverbs 10:20 (NKJV)
The idea in both of these verses is that there is a right place and a wrong place to go for counsel. There is a right kind of person we should let influence us and there is a wrong kind of person we should not let influence us. The people who have the positions of influence in our lives should be godly and wise people.
I think that primarily this will deal with moral and ethical issues. There is a reason for this. As good of a person as they may be, their counsel will not be rooted in God’s Word and their influence won’t be a godly influence. Through Scripture God has revealed what is absolutely right and absolutely wrong. Those who have not trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior won’t take that into consideration during their decision making process.
Instead of being Godly advice it will be pragmatic advice. This advice will be whatever is easiest, the most convenient, seems to makes us happy, or whatever will profit us the most. Though they may be good moral people, if what God has revealed to be right and wrong plays no part in the decision making process then the advice will be ungodly (without God).
When I worked as an Internet help desk technician in Tahlequah Oklahoma I saw a perfect example of this. A guy in our department was getting married and was looking for ways to cut costs before the wedding so they could save some money. Both he and his fiancé had apartments so one of the other guys told him that what they needed to do was pick which apartment they were going to live in, cancel the other and move in together until the wedding.
The guy getting married protested that his fiancés family was very “religious” and would freak over that. The guy giving the advice told him, “Yeah I know how that works. Just tell them, we understand what you are saying, but we are getting married anyway and this will help us to save some money.” It was pragmatic advice not godly advice.
If I want to see what path I’m on I need to look and see who or what I am letting influence me. If I am being influenced by ungodly sources I will start down a progressive path that leads me away from the path of life and away from the Lord.
For further study read Proverbs 1:10-19.
What is the primary warning of this passage?
How do those trying to influence us make sin seem appealing?
What is the end result?