Church Mice by Karl Zorowski
Copyright 2003 Karl A. Zorowski. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Should we take the Bible literally, how? Do you believe the Bible has decisive authority over what you do and say? Do you believe the Bible is relevant to address the needs of contemporary culture?
Pick a partner and try to come up with a daily scenario that represents the following Scripture clips: (you may want to act it out during a small group meeting)
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Mt. 7:5)
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away…….. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Mt. 5:29, 30)
For I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. (Mt. 10:35 – 36)
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. (Mt. 7:6)
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Mt. 18: 21 – 22)
1Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
4Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. (Psalm 1:1–6 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Who are the wicked, sinners and mockers (Ps. 1:1)?
3 What is the meaning of “like chaff that the wind blows away” (Ps. 1:4)?
4 Circle all things that relate to humankind.
5 Discover new insights by using New Living Translation.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
The poet conveyed to the readers about a blessed or a happy life and used the fate of the godly people and the wicked as illustrations.
1 The poet tells us not to walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor to stand in the way of sinners nor to sit in the seat of mockers. So, do we have to isolate ourselves from the world (Ps. 1:1)?
2 What is blessedness (Ps. 1:1)?
3 How can one become a “blessed” person (Ps. 1:2)?
4 Is it true that everything will go smoothly for a godly person (Ps. 1:3)?
5Why does the poet describe the wicked are like chaff that the wind blows away (Ps. 1:4)?
In the Book of Psalms with a total of 150 psalms, Psalm 1, 37 and 199 belong to the category of “Wisdom Psalms.” By reading the poets’ “Wisdom Psalms,” the readers can understand God’s will. Psalm 1 does not only talk about the lifestyle that godly people should have (Ps. 1:1), and they should also commit themselves to God’s word (Ps. 1:2). In regard to the literary form, the special structure is as follows:
|A1 (v 1) The way of blessedness|
|B1 (v 2) Continuance in the Lord’s law|
|C1 (v 3) The enduring fruit tree|
|C2 (v 4) The impermanent chaff|
|B2 (v 5) No standing in the Lord’s judgment|
|A2 (v 6) The way of perishing|
A1 is a comparison to A2, B1 to B2 etc. Indentation denotes the pattern of comparison.
The poet uses “blessed” to commence his poem in the Hebrew Bible and he desires to talk about the means of blessedness. “Blessed” can be translated as “happy” as well. Regarding to personal conduct, blessed ones are those who fully depend on God (Ps. 2:12; 34:8; 40:4; 84:5; 84:12; 146:5), they are willing to accept the authority of God’s law (Ps. 112:1; 119:1, 2; 128:1), and they also care for the poor people (Ps. 41:1). Concerning to its nature, this kind of happiness is not just a feeling, but it is also a concrete truth; to be precise, even though a person does not have the feeling of happiness, but in God’s eyes, this person is blessed anyway. In other words, this kind of blessedness or happiness is not restricted by one’s state of mind and external factors.
“Don’t” occurred three times here (NCV), and it relates to a happy life: 1. “Don’t listen to the wicked.” “Wicked” can be rendered as criminals. Poet boldly states that a godly person should not listen to the counsel of a wicked person. 2. “Don’t go where sinners go.” NLT paraphrases it as “stand around with sinners.” In simple terms, a godly person should not lead the lifestyle of a sinner. 3. “Don’t do what evil people do.” The “mockers” do not respect God’s Word and they employ the attitude of mockery to deal with people and matters (Prov. 1:22). The poet reminds the readers, they must avoid being with ungodly people. “Walk in the counsel of the wicked’ (NIV) is the starting point of association with the wicked. “Stand in the way of sinners” is a portrayal of further association with the wicked. And “sit in the seat of mockers” is a description of the closest association with the wicked. If one desired to lead a blessed or happy life, a godly person should flee from the influence of the wicked; this is a negative way.
The “law” is not to be limited to the Five Books of Moses or to the Old Testament, for it signifies primary instruction that comes from God. Although fleeing from evil influences is a negative way, it is an essential practice to the godly people. However, the more positive way is that, godly people should mediate God’s law (God’s Word) day and night with a loving heart. In simple terms, godly people should not connect with evil influences”, but connect with God’s truth. Regarding to one’s attitude, godly people should love God’s instructions. And concerning action, this person should continue to meditate the instructions of the Lord, just like a cow chews her cud. Therefore, a godly person can lead one’s daily life according to God’s will. The above way is the secret that leads to a happy life.
In Middle-East countries, people dug canals to water their crops, and it was a popular mode as means of irrigation. “Streams of water’ may mean “canals’ here. As the fruit trees have a rich supply of water, their leaves wither not, and they yield their fruits in season. A tree that yields its fruit in season is a portrayal of a blessed or happy person. Moreover, whatever a blessed person does prospers is a proof of God’s presence (Gen. 39:2-3; Josh. 1:8; 2 Chron. 1:11-12; 2 Chron. 32:30). The above description does not propose the doctrine that godly people will sail without a hitch, but rather an emphasis that godly people can enjoy the grace of God’s presence. A winnowing fork is a tool to separate grain and chaff. As the grain was heavier than the chaff, when a person tossed them up, the wind would blow the chaff away, and the heavier grain fell to be gathered up from the ground. The poet compared the righteous and the wicked. He states that the life of a righteous person resembles a fruit tree that bears fruit. As for the life of a wicked, it is like chaff, and it is of no value at all.
Righteous people are blessed by God, as they enjoy a happy life, for they are willing to obey God’s Word. On the contrary, ungodly people will not stand in the judgment. “The wicked” are those who do not fear God. “The assembly of the righteous” is the collective term for those who know God and enjoy God’s presence. The “sinners” here are those Jews who do not fear God. It doesn’t matter who you are, even if those who were born as a Jew; if they do not fear God, they cannot stand in God’s judgment.
“Know” (NASB) is a word to convey the idea of intimacy between a husband and a wife in the Hebrew Bible (Gen. 4:1), and it also describes how God understand the suffering of His people in Egypt (Ex. 2:25). God has a heartfelt understanding of the condition of the righteous, and they are a group of people who are willing to follow God’s will. Owing to the fact that the righteous have an intimate personal relationship with God, they are under God’s care, protection and blessing. On the contrary, the wicked do not know God and they continue to do wicked things as well. Therefore, their fate is doom (Ps. 37:20; 49:10; 55:23).
As the righteous know God, and they also have an intimate relationship with Him, that’s why they enjoy a blessed or happy life.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Do not underestimate the profound and lasting impact of our friends on us.
2 Some television programmes, films, magazines and electronic games convey harmful messages, and godly people should be careful of selecting their hobbies.
3 We need to obey God’s Word and should not follow the way of the sinners.
4 Memorise Ps. 1:2.
5 Determine to pursue a happy life and live godly accordingly.
6 Resolve to meditate God’s Word and apply the teachings to our daily living.
7 Resolve to be a person who bears fruit, and enjoy the sweet presence of God.
8 God promises to grant us a blessed or happy life, but He asks us to have appropriate action in order to experience Him.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.