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Friday, March 6, 2009

Photo of wheat harvest from combine
A view of wheat being harvested from the cab of a combine.
This photo was taken in July when  I rode in the combine with my friend Darrel, who along with his dad, Galen, farms here in Lancaster County.  Click here for a larger photo with Scripture verse.

Note: Today's message is a follow-up to yesterday's "Like A Tree"

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"Like Chaff"

"Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish" (Psalm 1:4-6).

Chaff, unlike trees, is an agricultural term unfamiliar to many. It is the inedible, dry, scaly protective casings of the seeds of cereal grain.  The view in our featured photo above is looking out over a wheat field being harvested as I rode in a combine during wheat harvest one summer. I watched as the combine separated the valuable wheat kernels collected for food and discharged the chaff out the back as it went along.

The latter part of Psalm 1 is a major contrast to the first three verses that speak of the blessed person. It's a vital, instructive part of God's Word, though it might not be as uplifting as the first three verses.

An article written in "Our Daily Bread" many years ago vividly exemplifies the contrast between the godly and ungodly as portrayed in Psalm 1:

Photo of John Wesley

"When John Wesley, who had been joyous, energetic, and effective even in his 88th year, was dying, he suddenly sat up, looked at the people weeping at his bedside, and said, 'Best of all, God is with us.'"

Photo of Mark Twain"In contrast Mark Twain, morose and weary of life well before he died at 75, wrote, 'A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle for bread; they squabble and scold and fight; . . . age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; . . . those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. . . . [Release] comes at last—the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them—and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; . . . a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever.'"

The shift in descriptive characteristics between the blessed and evil is quite pronounced beginning in verse 4 of Psalm 1. Notice the emphatic manner in which verse 4 begins, "Not so the wicked!"

"They are like chaff that the wind blows away…" This characterization of the wicked is a major contrast to the characterization of the blessed man who is "like a tree planted by streams of water."  To separate the chaff from the wheat early cultures tossed baskets of grain into the air and let the wind blow away the lighter chaff which was inedible and utterly useless. As we apply this illustration to the wicked (or unbeliever) we see their lack of meaningful existence much like Mark Twain elaborated.

"Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous." This parallel statement points out the future lot of the wicked and unrepentant sinners.  Not standing in the judgment is a depiction of those unable to withstand God's wrath. They will be struck down and condemned by God on Judgment Day.  The New Testament verse comes to mind, "Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."

The final verse contrasts the two ways of life:

1) "The LORD watches over the way of the righteous" There are eighty-eight references to the "eyes of the Lord" in Scripture.  This is the loving, caring attentiveness expressed in numerous verses such as "But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love" (Psalm 33:18).

2) "But the way of the wicked will perish." Perhaps the most memorized verse in the entire Bible comes to mind.  It reminds us that God does not want anyone to perish and that's why Jesus came to die for our sins: "For God so loved the world that he gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

One glorious future day the Judgment of Christ will come and there will be a great harvest.  I want to be among those who stand in the judgment and sit among the righteous.  I expect to have great fellowship with you, our readers, as we stand before Christ and joyfully confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, I want my life to be of value to You and to those around me.  Through the Psalmist You depict the wicked to be like chaff which has no lasting value here on earth and certainly not for eternity.  What a tragic waste to have been given human life and to have wasted it. I want my life to count right here and now and for all eternity.  I bow my knees and confess with my tongue that Jesus Christ is my Lord and personal Savior.  I choose not to walk in the counsel of the wicked, but I seek counsel from your Word and delight in Your ways. Amen.

Photo of wheat harvest from my porch
This photo, taken from our front porch illustrates the chaff. (Notice the smoke-like dust coming from the combine in the background.)

Photo of Amish baling corn fodder
I took this photo last week of my Amish neighbors baling corn fodder in a field across from our home. Since I took the photo facing the sun it created this interesting silhouette effect. Here's a similar photo I posted last week without the silhouette.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.

"Streams Of Water" (Psalm 1:1-3) Audio from the Integrity Scripture Memory series (Open this page and click on the "play" button.)

"John 3:16,17" Audio also from the Scripture Memory series. 
(Open this page and click on the "play" button.)

I am so blessed to have discovered an online source for these Scripture Memory songs to share. Here's an idea that at least works for me. Open either of the pages above and then notice the link on the left for "Play Top Tracks".  This will play a succession of the Scripture Memory songs!  (Great background music.)

Video illustrating wheat chaff from the combine (for those who, like me, are incurably inquisitive.)

Psalm 1 in the Amplified Version. A thoughtful question in our Bible Study on Psalm 1 concerned the meaning of verse 5.
I believe the explanatory note here catches the sense: "Therefore the wicked [those disobedient and living without God] shall not stand [justified] in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous [those who are upright and in right standing with God]."

The "Our Daily Bread" article referred to in today's message.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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