When I started to reflect seriously on the Psalms a few months ago, one tiny little concept in Psalm 1 grabbed my attention: “sitting in the seat of mockers.” Blessed is the one who does NOT sit in that seat.
I wondered: what does that really mean?
The obvious definition of a mocker is someone who makes fun of other people. It is a response that comes when we think others are doing something wrong, foolish, or embarrassing. So we belittle them, make fun of them, and outwardly criticize them – mocking. But the intent of this passage goes deeper than that. I believe what the Psalmist is getting at is the attitude of “judging others.” At the heart of mocking others is a prideful heart condition that is bad and misguided: we judge others because we think we are better than they are.
Personally, I try not to outwardly mock people. But it’s more because of a cultural, sophistication thing (it’s in bad taste and shows “bad form”) than a conviction toward righteousness and humility. Yet, in my heart and in my mind, I secretly mock and judge people more often than I care to admit. Sometimes the thoughts in my head toward others are disgustingly haughty (“What an idiot! Where did you go to school?”) Sometimes I’ll act humbly on the outside, but on the inside I’m thinking, “I’m right, you’re wrong. You’ll see!” Sometimes the attitude is so subtle that I don’t even realizing I’m judging someone until long after the conversation (but the Holy Spirit brings it up now that I am beginning to examine the events and encounters in my life).
Like the Psalmist says: It’s time to get out of that seat! It’s ungodly, it’s wrong and it’s insidiously wicked.
Jesus said, “Judge not, or you will be judged” (Matt 7:1). There is so much wisdom in that. Here’s what I mean:
First, when we judge others, we are assuming God’s position over people. We sit in His judgment seat; whether we realize it or not. But there is only One Judge. And I’m not Him. And neither are you.
Second, I’m just too stupid and ignorant to be an informed or just judge on anything; especially when it comes to other people. It’s true that people do wrong and bad things. But do I really know why they are doing them? Have I walked in their shoes? Do I see all the circumstances in that person’s life? No. So what gives me the right to judge them?
Third, judging others poisons me. It feeds my pride and keeps me from true humility (which I believe is the absolute best frame of mind/heart to be in). Judging others turns everything I think, feel, say, and do into negativity. Judging another person makes me think that “being right” and “being justified” is more important than “being a loving person.”
Fourth, judging others actually damages my identity in Christ. The quintessential example of judging others is the “Accuser,” aka “Satan.” I am not a “son of perdition” but when I judge others I am imitating Satan. Inadvertently, in this act I am choosing to identify with darkness, rather than with Christ. I need to remember that my identity rests with the One who said to the woman caught in adultery: “I do not condemn (judge) you; go and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
So getting out of the seat of mockers, getting off the Judgment Throne, is something I have to do – in heart, mind, attitude, and action. It’s something we all have to do if we really want to be Whole Life Worshipers of God.
I want to explore some of the ramifications of this idea further (things like, “Aren’t we supposed to help each other live righteous lives? How can we do that without judging?” and “How do I get myself out of that seat and not just accept everything as being okay?”)
But let me end with these questions: Are we sitting on the seat of mockers? Is there someone in your life that you judge or belittle in your mind or constantly have critical thoughts about? What would it take for you to bless that person instead of curse them or ignore them?
Today let’s live as children of our Father of lights and leave the company of the Accuser.