Friday, April 27, 2012

Analyzing the "Hell" Out of a Sentence



Triple threat here – I’m going to use my English degree, my decoding hobby skills, and my interest in learning Hebrew to analyze one simple verse. This is the first verse of the first Psalm:

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Psalm 1:1.

“Blessed” is the word pictured above in Hebrew. My dictionary tells me it means “happiness”, but as it is used here as an interjection it means “How happy!” or “O the bliss of . . .”

Hence, how happy (!) is the man who . . . does NOT do three things. Notice the movement of the verbs that follow – from walk to stand to sit. From walking in the wrong direction > to standing where you shouldn’t stand > to sitting and being a part of something you shouldn’t be a part of. Each verb is followed by a pair of prepositional phrases that further illuminate the passage.

1) Do not “walk in the counsel of the wicked”. To walk is a metaphor for your way of life, so don’t let your way of life be counseled or influenced by the spoken word of “the wicked”. Our definition of wicked may not match up with the Bible’s. Here it means “ungodly”, that is, someone who is an enemy of God’s, someone who is not righteous, someone who is morally wrong and/or a bad person. As you walk in the world you’re going to be around all kinds of people, but don’t listen to the “ungodly”.

2) Now the movement stops; the verb is “stand”. Do not “stand in the way of sinners”. Standing shows a more deliberate action, that is, a person has stopped to join in. “The way” can be translated “the path”. What is the “path of a sinner”? Answer: the way of life, or lifestyle, of those who by their actions are under the wrath and judgment of God (per the fifth verse of this psalm) and face ultimate destruction.

3) The third verb is “sit”. Do not “sit in the seat of mockers”. Some translations use “scorners” or “scoffers”; the original Hebrew word is a verb that means to deride or to boast in such a way as to express utter contempt, that is, utter contempt for God and God’s Word. These scoffers are all around us, belittling us as “Bible-thumpers”, “Jesus freaks”, “religious fanatics”, and “holier than thou”, scorning religion as “the opiate of the people”, and denying God’s existence.

Well, happy is the man who does NOT do the three things in Psalm 1:1. In simple English: don’t hang with and listen to people who don’t believe in God; don’t spend a lot of time with those who openly violate God’s commands and reject the truth; don’t engage in wrong behavior by joining the wrong crowd and adopting their eternally fatal attitude.

Tomorrow – verses 2 and 3.