Good Companions, Good Deal

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One of the first pieces of Scripture I memorized when I was a kid in Sunday School was Psalm 1. So well did I learn it that it remains cemented in my mind to this day. Mrs. Wood, the pastor’s wife and head of the Primary Department ,presented me with a bookmark as my prize—a bookmark I still have. I wish I could manage to memorize as well today as I did sixty years ago! Alas, it is not so easy.

In Psalm 119:11, the psalmist reminds his readers of the importance of memorizing God’s words. He says: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” What is hidden in the heart is what the Spirit of God brings to mind when we are faced with choices and temptations—something that happens every day.

My verse for today comes from Psalm 1:1 and is one of those that comes to mind when I am faced with who to choose as my closest companions. It remains a valuable piece of advice for anyone, young and old, when deciding who should become a close friend, a life-long companion, a business partner, or a counsellor. It also comes in handy as a reminder that sin is a slippery slope that begins innocently but ends badly. You can see the progression in the verse: “walk,” “stand,” and “sit.”

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.”

When I was growing up my friends, for the most part, were other kids from church. My brother, on the other hand, made friends with school companions. I would not say that our respective journeys prove the rule, but my brother stopped going to church in his teens—his friends didn’t go so he figured there was no reason for him to go either. He has never returned. This personal experience has always illustrated for me the important truth in this verse from Psalm 1. It is much easier to be pulled down than it is to pull others up.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t associate with those who are not followers of Jesus. How can we be a positive influence and speak truth into their lives if we don’t associate with them? But what it does say is that those closest to us should be on the same path, for mutual edification, support and, yes, course correction.

One of the best passages that supports this truth is found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and illustrates just what the “blessed” part of Psalm 1:1 is.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Our journey through life is fraught with spiritual pitfalls. We all need someone to encourage us to “keep on keeping on,” to pick us up when we fall, and to warm us when we begin to grow cold spiritually. When under attack, it helps to have someone alongside who “has our back.” Most important is that third “strand,” the Lord Himself who brings the “blessed” into our lives by His presence to cheer and His power to deliver. 

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