Like a Tree Planted

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Psalm 1

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. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:1–6)

We continue to consider the first Psalm. Assuming you’ve taken take its sage advice, you are now avoiding the wicked, and spending time chewing over the words of scripture. What is the result of these actions? What can you look forward to? What might you expect?

The answer is that you will be “like a tree planted by streams of water”, and there’s quite a lot packed into that short statement. This, you see, is not some wild tree which has sprung up of its own accord. Rather this is a cultivated tree, one planted by a careful hand. The land has been selected, as it is well watered. There is moisture and nourishment for the tree’s roots to drink in, and those growing roots will give stability to the tree. Just to make sure, there are many streams here, not just one. One may fail, but there will be others to provide life.

With such a careful planting as this it is no wonder that the tree prospers and bears fruit, and so it is that if you meditate on the scripture, and are carefully planted, you too will bear fruit “in season”. Perhaps that will be in a time of suffering, or in a time of great joy, but there is the confidence that the fruit will be there at the right time. This confidence is only increased by the fact that the “leaf does not wither,” the sign is there that the nourishment is being provided. The streams are doing their job.

The contrast with the wicked, which is where the Psalm ends, is stark. Without good roots, you will be blown about like chaff. More worryingly, without good roots you cannot stand in God’s judgment. The question is a vital one: where are your roots? From where are you drawing your understanding of the world? What is feeding you, and claiming you attention?

Are you planted by the living streams, or withering in the desert?

The Slaughter of the Priests

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. (Psalm 52:1-2) - We are back in the time of King Saul, when David was emerging as a very popular military figure. Even though he was a close friend of the king’s son, David could not escape the jealous wrath of Saul and so he went on the run. He doesn’t seek to put on a polite front before God, but rather pours out his heart. God does not require our politeness, rather he hears the cries of our hearts.

Come and See

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:45-46) - It is our task to point people to Christ and give the indication “come and see”, but in the end it is Jesus who converts people. The task is in fact a straightforward one. Just say “come and see”. And then leave the rest to Jesus.

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