What does the LORD know? Again and again scripture makes the point that the Creator is aware of all things “for the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer” (1 Peter 3:12, quoting Psalm 34). The first Psalm, which we read today, sees David affirming “the LORD knows the way of the righteous” (verse 6) – by contrast “… the way of the wicked will perish”. The wicked will perish because they do not know, and do not want to know, the ways of God. There is no middle way, which Jesus made very clear.

The Psalms are stimulating to the spiritual mind. We often feel it is a pity that they are all read in the first three months of the year. Here we learn of God’s ways; Psalm 18 tells us, “This God – his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (verse 30).

The way of the righteous is described wonderfully in Psalm 1:1,2. “Blessed is the man (‘godly person’) who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law (‘instruction’) of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night”.

David is marking the stepping stones of progress in overcoming ungodly ways. First, the godly person walks past such ways, so there is no chance to stop and look, still less to sit down and share a seat with them. The result is that those pursuing the way of righteousness are “like a tree planted by streams of water … in all that he (or she) does” (verse 3) they prosper – especially spiritually – and “even though” they, like David, may have times when they “walk through the valley of the shadow of death, [they] will fear no evil, for you are with [them] …” (Psalm 23:4).

May we all read and meditate on God’s word throughout this New Year knowing that “the LORD knows the way of the righteous”.