Taken from Chapter 1 of Discovering Delight by Glenda Mathes.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he mediate day and night. – Psalm 1:2
The first song in the Psalter puts readers into meditation mode, comparing the believer to a fruitful tree and stressing how the blessed person delights in the Lord’s law. The psalm’s first verse describes the man (or woman) who is blessed by expressing the negatives of three actions. He or she does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, does not stand in the way of sinners, and does not sit in the seat of the scornful. Walking, standing, and sitting represent three different levels of action. Walking is the most active physically, but sitting could very well be the most active mentally.
The blessed person doesn’t take part in ungodly activities or implement ungodly counsel. While Christians may develop relationships with unbelievers, especially for the purpose of evangelism, they don’t stand with them in sinful or fruitless pursuits. And they don’t sit in on plans with people who scorn God’s name and Word.
Blessing comes to the person who makes conscious and committed efforts to avoid ill-advised actions, sinful philosophies, and scornful attitudes. But blessing derives from more than merely avoiding bad behaviors. Verse 2 tells us that actively mediating on God’s law brings blessing and delight. The godly person loves God’s Word so much that he or she meditates on it day and night.
Reading Scripture early in the morning as the first fruits of your day is a good start. Meditating on God’s Word again in the evening is even better. But this verse encompasses much more than a command for daily and nightly personal devotions. It’s about loving God’s law so intensely that you long to spend time reveling in it. Your mind and heart become so steeped in Scripture that portions of the Word saturate your thoughts and accompany your daily activities. Meditating day and night is an attitude as well as an action.
In lovely imagery, Psalm 1:3 describes the blessed person as a firmly rooted, fruitful tree with unwithered leaves. Its roots reach toward life-giving rivers, drinking deeply of living waters. At the proper time it brings forth sound fruit. It is full of lustrous green leaves, free from pest or blight. The image of a tree budding in the spring, bursting with full foliage in the summer, and bearing ripe fruit in the fall effectively pictures the believer performing righteous deeds through the progression of time and the process of personal sanctification.
The believer-as-tree simile occurs repeatedly in Scripture. Jeremiah 17:8 echoes Psalm 1:3 in remarkably similar words: “For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jer. 17:8). Despite heat and drought, this believer tree will produce fruit and enjoy peace. Christians who drink deeply of God’s living waters will bear the fruit of righteousness and experience peace that passes understanding, even during times of scorching physical adversity or arid spiritual drought.
Ezekiel uses similar language when describing the trees he sees in a vision:
And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this die and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine. (Ezek. 47:12)
These trees drink of water that issues from God’s holy sanctuary. Although their fruit will be used for food, it will not disappear; the leaf will not fade despite being used for healing. Doesn’t this imagery remind you of the Tree of Life in the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9) and still more of the final Tree of Life from which believers will eat in the superiors paradise (Rev. 2:7)? Just as the leaves of the tree in Ezekiel’s vision would become medicine, the leaves of the definitive Tree of Life will be for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2).
To say that the blessed person prospers in all things doesn’t mean that every believer will experience business success, enjoy physical health, and live within a happy family. God may allow a Christian to struggle for decades under financial adversity, to suffer for much of life from chronic pain and fatigue, or to grieve for years the heartache of a wayward child. Believers sometimes experience worldly prosperity, but often they do not. True prosperity is not found in the thing of this world, but in the things of the eternal realm. All that is done for Christ counts as success in His kingdom. And believers prosper eternally because their future is secure in Christ
This isn’t true fro the wicked. The future of the ungodly is far from secure. Verse 4 shows that in contrast to the sturdy believer tree, firmly rooted beside refreshing streams, unbelievers are like bits of grain husks blown into oblivion by the blustery wind.
The ungodly will not be able to stand before the judgment seat of Christ or in the great and final gathering of the righteous (v. 5). They will crumple under the scrutiny of God’s final judgment. And those who persist in sin will have no place in the ultimate and unified congregation of the church triumphant.
The way of the wicked will perish, but God knows the way of the righteous (v. 6). He sees your struggle right now. He knows what will happen to you today, this week, this month, and every year for the rest of your life. He will watch over your every step in this temporal life and in all aspects of your eternal future. Because of Christ’s finished work, believers will stand without faltering before His judgment. They will join the righteous throng that enters the city gates and partakes of the tree of life (Rev. 22:14).
As you being this devotional of mediating on God’s Word, may His Spirit fill your heart with joy in your Lord and love for His delightful law.
Questions for Reflection
How might I be walking, standing, or sitting in ways that compromise my Christian faith?
What is my attitude about God’s Word and meditating on it?
What specific steps can I take to become more like a believer tree?