“Blessed is the man 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 of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” ~ Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV)
In the early church writings, the priority of God’s Word stood above all other authorities. In order for anything to gain the acceptance of the people, it had to be proved from Scripture. Those early Christians understood that to not submit to God’s law was to be hostile to God himself (Romans 8:7). It is the ground of the Word of God that provides a solid, shiftless foundation.
Here in Psalm 1 we read the contrast between two lives, one who is steeped in God’s direction (vs. 1-3) and one who is not (vs. 4-6). The Psalmist exclaims that one who does not follow the wicked, sinners, or mockers is one who takes delight in the law of God. The one who does this is described as being blessed, meaning value has been added to his or her life.
How can it be that one who delights in the law of God is found to be blessed? Because God’s instruction is an instrument of righteousness. In using the word ‘meditate’ the Psalmist is implying that one will put the instruction into practice, and thus conform to righteousness. In describing the difference between meditating and thinking, Martin Luther said, “To meditate is to think carefully, deeply, diligently, and properly it means to muse in the heart. Hence to meditate is to stir up in the inside or to be moved in the innermost self.” The one who meditates on the Word of God becomes a doer of the Word of God (James 1:22).
The one who is firmly rooted in the Word of God is like a planted tree (vs. 3). This tree has three characteristics:
- It is planted beside streams of water: Note that streams is plural, indicating that there is an abundance of life giving water available to this tree. This tree does not have to go without, but instead its needs are provided for.
- It will yield fruit: It is expected that the tree will give forth fruit that is able to sustain other life. Recognize though that fruit only comes in its season. The psalmist does not declare that the fruit will immediately be available, but only when it is the appropriate time. It takes time for the fruit to transform and grow into maturity before it is ready to be picked.
- Finally, the tree will not wither: Derek Kidner reminds us that this does not mean there will not be an independence from the season, but rather that the tree will not die from a drought. Ultimately, the one who is grounded in the Word will prosper at whatever he does. This does not necessarily mean a life of material wealth. Instead, it means that when one is tied to the Word, so is their work. Therefore, the work itself is grounded also in God and will not fail. It will achieve the purpose for which God intended to use it. “So potent is God’s Word that whatever he does prospers. He will enjoy a spiritually enriched life, the fullest life imaginable” (Steve Lawson).
It is true, there may be struggles in our earthly lives that we do not enjoy. However, the Word of God endures and sustains. The Word of God is a source of encouragement, strength, and hope. When rooted in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit produces in the individual not only godly acts, but also a godly lifestyle.
Man’s word leads to brokenness, but God’s Word leads to blessedness.
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