Scripture

Psalm 1

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.

Reflection

Today we begin a 4-week journey through the Psalms. We will not reflect on every Psalm (there are 150) but we will look at many of them, exploring the variety and depth of some of our favorites. As I wrote yesterday, Psalms 1 and 2 provide a groundwork for the rest. Psalm 1 provides us roots in the habit of reading, studying, and reflecting on scripture. This, the psalmist tells us, will help us grow deep roots, like a tree planted by the water. We will bear fruit and prosper. But note this is not a promise of prosperity to everyone who claims to follow God. Rather it is those who meditate on God’s ways and God’s word day and night. It is not a forced feeding of scripture, but rather approaching God’s word with delight.

 

In the Psalms, you will find many references to other scripture, echoes of the words found in sacred Jewish texts. To reference these words, familiar to any follower of God, was a way to remind the hearer of their collective history and journey. It was a call to remember who they are, where they come from and where they are going. Verse 1 echoes the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, where Moses reminds the people to meditate on God’s word day and night and to talk about it as they sit, walk and lie down. Verse 3 draws from Jeremiah 17, where the blessed person is planted by streams of water and Ezekiel 47, where fruit trees grow by the water and their leaves do not wither.

 

This Psalm reminds us what success looks like for the person who desires to follow God wholeheartedly. Just as a tree endures storms, wind, and drought,

the righteous will suffer hardships and difficulty. The key is the root system. A tree firmly planted by living water will grow deep and strong, able to endure the storms of life and continue to bear fruit, even when others are blown away by the wind.

 

How does this definition of success compare with yours? What can you do to plant yourself by living water?

Prayer

Dear Lord, let me hear your word anew. Guide me to open my heart and my soul to your ways. Please hear my prayers, my cries, my celebrations, and my worries. Be with me as I navigate this world. Show me how to use my whole life to serve you and your purposes. Thank you, Lord, for this day. Amen.