So, in summary, Psalm 1:1 gives us a promise of happiness [or blessedness], verse 2 provides the means for experiencing it and verse 3 declares the end result as follows:
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.”
Using a great piece of poetic imagery, which of course is a common thing in the Psalms, the Psalmist here describes four treelike characteristics of a godly life:
- The location of planting is important: these trees are “planted by streams of water”, i.e. they are well watered and well nourished and therefore stable, rooted, solid and strong. For us, our nourishment comes from the Word by the Spirit and our abiding in Christ. Paul in Colossians 2:6-7 says, “6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” And in Ephesians 3:16-19 he prays: “…that out of his [the Father’s] glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
- These trees are healthy and growing and therefore producing succulent and delicious fruit in abundance, as they were meant to do. In the spiritual realm this is God’s plan for each of us as the people of God. Consider Jesus’ words in John 15 about living “fruitful” lives in union with him. He says: “ 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing… 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples…16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last…”
- These trees can withstand whatever extremes of weather come their way, in fact they not only survive but rather they thrive despite whatever life throws at them. And so for the one who is blessed and to whom the word of God and obeying this word is his or her delight. Paul in Ephesians 6 speaks of how we are able to stand firm no matter what comes against us. He says: “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then…”
- These trees prosper – becoming what God has designed them to be. And we also, as God fulfils his purposes in us and through us. Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
This is what it means to be fully alive in God and to be making a difference in this world we live in. To be growing and prospering in all our relationships with God and people.
So, as 2015 comes to completion and 2016 begins, the psalmist gives us some great advice. To maintain a pure, uncompromising walk with God, says the psalmist, and to delight in His Word is to grow into a stable, reliable, strong ‘spiritual tree.’ And like physical growth this happens on a daily basis, moment by moment making good decisions and choosing to take God’s truth to heart and act upon it in the power of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus.
Have a blessed/happy new year living for Jesus!