Blessed is he . . .


Mark Twain was once asked by a reporter something about understanding the Bible. Twain’s response is famous, “It’s not the parts of the Bible that I don’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts I do understand.”

I have to say, as I get older, I feel like I have a better understanding for what Twain meant; the key points in Scripture are sometimes painfully clear. Still, there’s a good deal I do puzzle over and feel that I may never understand and I wonder if maybe I should.

For example, there’s the verse in Psalm 1 that says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, no stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” It’s that last phrase that gets me every time. What does it mean, “nor sits in the seat of scoffers?” What does sitting have to do with being blessed? And who exactly is a “scoffer” and why would scoffing at something remove a person from the possibility of finding happiness, from being “blessed?”

I was thinking about this yesterday and I did have an idea.

Maybe when it says not to “sit in the seat of scoffers” not to put oneself into their shoes – don’t be one. But still, what exactly does that mean? As I thought about it, it came to me that perhaps “scoffers” is a word for those people who don’t respect anyone or anything. Maybe a “scoffer” is someone who thinks only of himself and thinks everyone else is inferior to him and his exalted intelligence, or skill, or spirituality. It could be that a “scoffer” has no idea of what is really important and seeks only his own pleasure or gratification.

And then I thought, and this is one time something in the Bible that I don’t understand bothered me, it’s easy to be a scoffer, to take things for granted, the really important things, and to refuse to be grateful for God’s gifts. Even simple things get ignored, or never noticed; a sunset, or a good breakfast, or a good night’s sleep. Maybe it means not appreciating the fact that we wake up every morning and have jobs to go to and friends to meet and talk to over a cup of coffee. Hell, maybe it means even taking the coffee for granted. I know I do that all the time.

It may be that David, in Psalm 1, is calling us to remind ourselves to be grateful for all of God’s gifts, and to try to remind ourselves to do that everyday. I don’t know if I’m on track, but I’m going to give it a try.

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This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on February 8, 2006 8:31 PM.

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