Rather, the law of the LORD* is his joy;
and on his law he meditates day and night.b
He is like a treec
planted near streams of water,
that yields its fruit in season;
Its leaves never wither;
whatever he does prospers. – Psalm 1
I’ve decided to work my way through the Book of Psalms. I have meditated on many of them in my life. I always find wisdom, comfort, encouragement, and sometimes some commiseration in them. In my book, Drowning In Lemonade, I actually have a whole section near the back that includes meditations on many of the psalms.
I wrote those meditations to encourage others because I realized that, during my husband’s first combat deployment, the Psalms often sustained me and brought me to tears. They were tears of relief that God understood and He was with me. It was my experience in reading the Psalms that my faith in God’s presence, love, and concern for my well being was revealed. That occurred in many ways, but the Psalms were definitely part of it. A big part.
So, in Psalm 1, we have the thoughts I captured above. “Blessed is the [person] who does not take counsel from the wicked or hang out with those who are “ungodly.” That means people who have turned their backs on God or who actually mock Him. The words from the first Psalm that I share above describe the righteous person. The person who keeps his or her eye on God and His will is going to be blessed by God; he or she will prosper.
Now, we all know that very faithful, faith-filled people who have given their lives to God and love Him with all their hearts do not always ‘prosper’ by the world’s definition; they encounter sickness, loss of loved ones, they are not always receiving amazing gifts nor do they have great jobs making piles of money. That’s not how we understand, with the benefit of hindsight (centuries after the Psalmist composed it), the meaning of ‘prosper.’ It’s more about spiritual riches. It’s about the peace that passes all understanding, and knowing God loves you, and having hope in God’s promises of eternity with Him. It’s about an intimate relationship with Jesus, our Lord, Savior, yet our Brother and Friend.
It’s an amazing, better than earthly riches kind of thing. I would like to spend a little time meditating on the Psalm 1 lines above. I love the image. I am all about figurative language, similes and metaphors. The thought of the tree next to a stream, a babbling brook perhaps, with lush green leaves, and birds nesting in its branches, that’s a ‘happy place’ kind of a scene for me. That last line, “…whatever he (or she!) does prospers,” that’s my favorite line.
Whatever we do prospers because we aren’t doing anything on our own. All the good, all the love, all the peace we have inside, any wisdom or knowledge we obtain – it’s all from God. And we can rejoice in being given these gifts, this grace. But we should never pat ourselves on the back. Because this is not from anything we’ve done; it’s from what we’ve received. And all we can do is thank God for it and honor each gift with thanksgiving and by using it properly, being good stewards of what we’ve been given.
The main thing we have to do is give it away, whatever we’ve been graciously, extravagantly given, we must give it away. The most confounding thing about everything we get from God is that the desire from His supreme, perfect love, is to give it all away. And rather than considering us ingrates for giving away what we’re given, God will just give us more. Our ridiculously generous God delights in our generosity! We’ll never run out of water in the stream. We’ll always produce more fruit to supply others in need.
Here’s a great song that mirrors much of the Psalms. Often the Psalmist laments or asks God “why” things are happening or asking if he’s been forgotten. He is honest with his feelings and his needs and wants as we all should be. Why try to fake how you’re feeling inside? God knows already. You can’t disguise or dress up your negativity when that’s where you are. Or your frustration or your anger or bitterness. But God can ‘take it.’ The Psalmist knew that and the honesty of the Psalms helps me to be honest when I pray. Reading through that Book of the Old Testament when I was a scared Army wife with 2 little ones made me realize that we bring everything to God in prayer. He wants all of us and it brings us closer to Him. I humbly make that suggestion to you, as well.