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Psalm 1 Sermon from the October Prayer Service 2011

Psalm 1 Sermon from the October Prayer Service 2011

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday Oct 5th 2011: The Season of Pentecost, Psalm 1. “The Righteous and the wicked” Asking for Something Specific.


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;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

      and on His law he meditates day and night.

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.

The wicked are not so,

       but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will 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 wicked will perish.


Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.


Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Surrounded by the dead, three men stand in a silent grave yard: not a single soul in sight but them, each one is ready and prepared to draw his gun and fire. A murder of crows caws in anticipation of blood, the eyes of the men narrow, their pistols glint in the harsh sun, the air hangs thick like a noose. At stake is a buried treasure of $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold and more than that, with every bullet in the chamber, their very lives are on the line. This Mexican standoff is the dramatic apex of the fictional movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from 1966.The three central Characters squaring off against each other in the movie were: Tuco the Ugly, Blondie (played by Clint Eastwood) the Good, and Angel Eyes the Bad: All three are bandits and gunslingers; they all display greed, and they likewise murder and steal. As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;”[1]

Now there are moments in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly when Tuco does some good and in the end Blondie spares the life of Tuco, but these actions don’t wash away the fact that these men are wicked men bent on selfish gain at the cost of others. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly could be called the wicked, the wickedest and the wickeder.

Now that’s a movie ... in our life, whether we act out on our inner sinful desires, or not, makes little difference in the face of God’s judgment; plotting to break a commandment and breaking the commandment are equally evil in the eyes of the LORD. (1) So who then are the righteous? As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;” And (2) How does this connect with the Psalms and (3) praying for something specific in our lives?

     1) Psalm 1 sets the stage for the entire collection of Psalms in Scripture. You see this antagonism between the Righteous and the Wicked. This will show up again and again and again as we travel through the Psalms. So who are the Righteous? The Righteous are believers in God who while wicked in their thoughts words and deeds have been deemed Righteous by the LORD because they have listened to the LORD’S call to repentance and are in a state of turning back to God. Even though they fail at always being good based on their own merit, they do desire to be better even when they don’t feel like being better. The Righteous then are those God has saved, those He has redeemed, those He has made His; those He has declared to be Righteous. The Wicked are those who have given God the finger, those who have told God to get lost, those who hate the LORD and His people. The wicked are the ones who, while being saved reject that salvation and rely on themselves alone.

So while “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”[2] some of those sinners are declared righteous in the blood of Christ Jesus; some of those sinners, by the power of the Holy Spirit, cling to that blood of Jesus in repentance while others sinners are only wicked and as such have no righteousness in the eyes of God. The blood of Christ is placed on them too yet they spit grace back into the face of Jesus, defiantly keeping their own council, following their own way, making their own laws, staring down death all alone in a losing battle. On the one hand; while each of us can be very wicked, the difference is that when we hear the voice of Jesus calling we return to Him. We are not always so good at returning to the voice of Jesus so from time to time, each of us, will find ourselves to be so stubborn in our sin that we need Jesus to leave the other 99 sheep and come out to find us and to pick us up, to untangle us from the snare we’ve fallen into and to carry us home back to the flock. On the other hand; the wicked will not listen to the call of Jesus, and they won’t even feel guilty about not listening, they will simply turn a deaf ear to the Word of God and the voice of Jesus. They will not be help out of their snare of sin, they don`t even appreciate that they are trapped in it.

Who are the righteous? They are the ones who believe and are baptised. The wicked then are the ones who don’t believe.[3] So in Psalm 1, and all through the Psalms, it boils down to the fact that: it is, “by grace [that] you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”[4] these then are the righteous.

     2) Why is this important in the Psalms? If you read the Psalm saying to yourself, “if only I was a better person then I could be counted among the righteous and then the things promised in the Psalms could maybe be mine” If you read the Psalms like this, you will be crushed under the weight of the law and you will find no comfort in them. The Psalms are a combination of things: The Psalms are the Hymn book of the people of Israel and at the same time the Psalms are the Prayer Book of the People of Israel. In the Psalms you'll find the righteous praying to the LORD both in times of Joy and while they are down in the dumps. They will pray for forgiveness and for strength in the face of their enemies: Does this sound like you?

     3) The Devil, the World and your own sinful flesh would love for you to put yourself in the category of the wicked and to tell you that you have no place with the righteous because then you don't know the power that is yours, in your Baptism. If they can convince you that you’re not “good” enough to pray for something specific from the LORD, then you may stop talking with God all together. This is what they want: They want you to give up on yourself; they want you to believe that God has given up on you; they want you to think that Jesus has given up on you. The truth is that Jesus has never given up on you: He didn't give up on you when He was born of the Virgin Mary, He didn't give up on you when He suffered under Pontius Pilate, He didn’t give up on You when He was Crucified, He didn't give up on you when He died, or When He descended into Hell, or when He was raised from the dead on the third day, He didn't give up on you when He ascended into heaven, and He doesn't give up on you as He sits by God the Father Almighty’s right hand  .... He makes intercessory prayer for you, He takes your specific prays to the Father for you and He prays for your daily needs even when you don't know what to pray for yourself.

Our whole life might feel like a Mexican standoff, you may feel like you are surrounded by death, you might feel like you're standing in that silent grave yard facing down with Sin, the Devil, and the World, you might feel like your own sinful self is plotting against you in the standoff: But you're not alone, because you`ve been declared righteous Christ Jesus is with you. Without Christ Jesus we have no confidence, we would only wait to see which of our enemies would shoot us first. Yet the writer of Psalm one has faith in God and knows that God cares for him and takes care of him even in the face of the wicked. He has faith that God has planted him by streams of water that he is given life, and will bare good fruits at the right time and that he will prosper in the eyes of God. As you stand toe to toe with Sin, Death and the Devil: As you stand toe to toe with the world and your own sinful nature you worry about the fact that even though you are baptized and even though you are a Christian you are still a sinful person. You know that your sin is not Good, you know your sin is bad and you know that it's ugly. These accusations are the very real lead bullets in the pistols of your enemies as they seek out your eternal death, without Jesus these accusations will bring death.

In the end it doesn’t matter if your behaviour is deemed good by the world’s standards, or if it’s seen as delightfully bad by the devils standards or if it’s considered ugly by the standard of human flesh: What matters is what God thinks of it; What matters is if you are a forgiven sinner, if you are one declared righteous in the Eyes of the LORD; if you are repentant, turning back to the One Who saves you: Because then you’ve been forgiven and you are the same Righteous ones mentioned in Psalm 1, who in the Blood of Jesus can stand on the day of judgment because Jesus stands for you, you are the same Righteous who can stand in the congregation of the righteous because we all stand together as those redeemed by Jesus, picked up from the junk heap of life and made precious in His sight. We find forgiveness in Christ Jesus for all the times we've walked in the counsel of the wicked, for all the times we've stood in the way of sinners, for all the times we've sat in the seat of scoffers: We find forgiveness for all the times we've not whole heartedly love the law of the LORD, for all the times we’ve neglected to meditates day and night on the law of the LORD. Righteousness is not something that springs naturally up out of you; Righteousness rather is like a little red skidoo suite (a snow suite) that a parent puts on their small child, it's like a little red skidoo suite the child can't put on its self. In fact the child might even complain as it's being put on but once the child is in the cold and they are kept warm by the little red skidoo suite they stop their crying and appreciate the warmth that they could not provide for themselves. God put's righteousness, your enemies want you to be bare, to be naked, in the cold, to freeze with the wicked. Amen.

Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.


[1] Romans 3:10

[2] Romans 3:23

[3] Mark 16:16

[4] Ephesians 2:8