Sermon on the Mount Part 6

The first Psalm has often been my prayer when I do not have time to read and pray the entire Sermon on the Mount.  I have found it to contain what the Didache, a very early Christian writing from the first century (or at the latest, the early second century,) calls “the two ways.”

“There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you. And of these sayings the teaching is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the Gentiles do the same? But love those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy.” (The Didache, opening sentences)

We opened our study of the Sermon on the Mount a few weeks ago with the first two verses of Psalm 1.

“Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence. But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night.”(Psalm 1:1-2)

This is the “first way, the one of life.” We said earlier that “The law of the Lord” is therefore none other than the law of Christ, and that “In a word, the true morality of Christianity is Love.” Therefore the Didache tells us that “The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself.”

What is the result of this Love of God and of neighbor?” The beatitudes tell us that “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” and “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

The third verse of the Psalm tells us “And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit, in due season. And his leaf shall not fall off: and all whosoever he shall do shall prosper.” This is not necessarily worldly prosperity, but eternal. Planted near running waters, we will bring forth the fruit of our labors.  We will be like “unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.” (Matt 7:24) “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

But the Psalm continues, with the second way, the “one of death.”  “Not so the wicked, not so: but like the dust, which the wind driveth from the face of the earth. Therefore the wicked shall not rise again in judgment: nor sinners in the council of the just.” (Psalm 1:4-5) ”Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matt 7:17-18)

For the Lord knoweth the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish. (Psalm 1:6)


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