Throughout August we are going to use our weekly MSC news to write a short reflection on a Psalm. We hope this will be a useful help to you as you seek to make some space to rest with Jesus this summer.
We’ll start at the beginning – Psalm 1.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
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.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Psalm 1 introduces the whole book of Psalms leading us to understand that there is a way of blessedness that we can walk. This Psalm is a ‘beatitude’ – an indication of how to live the righteous way – the ‘God’ way. It differentiates bluntly between the righteous and the wicked. Those who walk in the righteous way are watched over – think Psalm 121 that assures people of being watched over in their comings and goings. Those who walk the way of the wicked will end up destroyed – ouch.
Psalm 1 indicates that the way of the righteous, the watched-over way of God, is affected by the movements of your life – think about it….. most of what we do in relation to others involves the posture of our body – either walking, standing or sitting. You can walk, stand or sit in a wicked or a righteous way. If the ‘counsel’ we listen to is of the wrong quality we will be open to a wrong course of action, if we sit (the Hebrew suggests dwelling or abiding) amongst mockers then we can end up becoming mockers of others ending up taking on a culture of cynicism in our lives. If we stand in the way of sinners – we allow ourselves to stop too long amongst things that are capable of shaping us in the wrong way.
Psalm 1 challenges us to be people whose walking and sitting and standing are marked by two key actions: ‘delighting’ and ‘meditating’. These aren’t as visible – they tend to be internal. They are meant to be the default mode of our hearts and minds – occupying ourselves with the right things. It reminds me of Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”. This is an encouragement to be people who meditate and delight – walking, standing and sitting the God way.
In the Hebrew the implication of meditating is something to do with habitual action – making your habitual action that of ‘delighting’ and ‘meditating’ on the things of God means you become like a tree planted by streams of water – a tree that is naturally growing and going through the right cycles of fruitfulness – continuous action of yielding fruit at the appropriate time and season.
There are times when I feel like a tree planted too far from the streams of water I need. Times when I feel like a tree that has withering leaves. For me I feel a bit like that at the moment – maybe you do also.
The tree talked about in this Psalm is one that is planted – literally ‘transplanted’ into a new position in which
you have been brought. Delighting and meditating transplants you to be placed by streams of water. This makes quite a difference to how we live, how we feel.
Perhaps the best thing we can be praying at the moment is that we would be planted by streams of water. Or perhaps try praying the whole of Psalm 1, meditate upon it….. and see what God says and does.
(Tree image found on CreationSwap)