bits from bob....

"Like Streams of Water...."

by Robert J. Young
©, 2002, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

The title of the article was familiar: Like a Tree. Almost immediately I suspected another exposition of Psalm 1. I read the article, but decided a reading of the psalm might be more helpful.

It is true that the psalm compares the upright man to a tree and the evil person to chaff, but does that superficial look really reflect the impressive contrast of Psalm 1? Do I succeed if I avoid the counsel of the wicked, refuse to stand in the way of sinners, and scorn the proffered seat in the seat of the scornful? Am I God's person through the absence of evil actions? Is my relationship with God a checklist to be fulfilled?
How have we so easily slipped past verse 2? Is it because it is hard to measure delight in the Lord's law, and meditation day and night seems pretty unrealistic in our hurried world. Probably doesn't mean what it seems to say, right?

Perhaps we need a fresh perspective on this vital psalm. Amidst the many contrasts of the wicked and blessed, the chaff and the tree, we may too easily miss the last verse of the psalm. Why does this psalm reflect life's reality? Because the Lord watches over the righteous. The emphasis in Psalm 1 is not on the tree or the chaff. The focus in Psalm 1 is on the streams of water. It's not the tree, it's where the tree is planted. Fruitfulness and verdancy and prosperity come from God. Psalm 1 is not humanistic message.

The article, attributed to "author unknown," continued. "The righteous retains attractiveness just like the tree holds its foliage. No ugly withering is expected. Few objects in nature are as pleasing as a handsome tree. Its foliage beautifies the landscape. It crowns the hilltop. It touches up the mansion. But even more attractive is a righteous, fruit-bearing life. No mansion is pretty without it...."

I fear our focus in reading this and other psalms has subtle shifted from God to humanity. We think we are to maintain beauty, we are to avoid ugliness, we are to bear fruit. But in reality, the affirmation is God's perpetual nourishment and faithful protection. When we see and understand God, delight and meditation upon him and his word both day and night seems less improbable.

"Like streams of water." What a picture of our God. May our hearts pant after him as the deer pants after water.

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Last updated January 7, 2002.