Psalm 1 (NLT)
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the LORD,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.
4 But not the wicked!
They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
5 They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
Sinners will have no place among the godly.
6 For the LORD watches over the path of the godly,
but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
Psalm 1 (ESV)
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;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 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.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalm 1 (NKJV)
1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
The Hebrew designation of Psalms is Tehillim (praises). We get the title “Psalms” from the Greek Psalmoi (twangings of harp strings). Another word for this collection has been Psalterion or Psaltery (collection of harp songs)
The author of this first Psalm is anonymous. There is no superscription (the notes that came down attached to each Psalm). But this Psalm is considered the gateway into the entire book of Psalms, a preface Psalm. “Its theme is as big as the whole Bible because it tells of people, paths and ultimate destinations” – ESV Study Bible. There are definite contrasts in this first Psalm of the people of God and the wicked pagans. “Blessed is the man” versus “the way of the wicked will perish”. The blessings are spelled out for the Covenant People of God who follow God and walk accordingly. And the curses are spelled out for those who refuse to walk after God and follow Him. So all people are judged as godly or ungodly and they will be judged thusly. The godly are blessed and the ungodly are ruined.
“Formal, metrical poetry takes advantage of received poetic forms (sonnets, rondelets, limericks, and the like) as well as metrical patterns of verse (iambic pentameter, double dactyls, and so on) to create rhetorical and aural structure that sets up an expectation in the reader (or, really, in the listener, as all poetry is really meant to be heard). The craft of such poetry is to effectively build those structures and expectations; the art is to satisfy, foil, or play off those expectations. In this way, the form of a poem really does convey more than the words alone.” – by Gaudetetheology, 5/20/2012, https://bltnotjustasandwich.com/2012/05/20/psalm-1-and-poetic-forms/
Notice in the first verse: not walk/nor stand/nor sit; in the counsel/in the path/in the seat; ungodly/sinners/the scornful
“Parallelism is the repetition of grammatical elements in a piece of writing to create a harmonious effect. Sometimes, it involves repeating the exact same words, such as in the common phrases “easy come, easy go” and “veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”). Other times, it involves echoing the pattern of construction, meter, or meaning.” – By MasterClass Staff, 9/10/2021, https://www.masterclass.com/articles/writing-101-what-is-parallelism
“Parallelism, also known as parallel structure, is when phrases in a sentence have similar or the same grammatical structure. In its most basic usage, parallelism provides a phrase with balance and clarity. Parallelism also serves to give phrases a pattern and rhythm”. – LiteraryTerms.net/parrallelism
There is simile in this first Psalm. Simile is common poetic device. A simile compares two different things using the words “like” or “as.” The purpose of a simile is to help describe one thing by comparing it to another thing that is perhaps seemingly unrelated. In our Psalm today we see the blessed man who walks after God is “like a tree planted by the streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither”. In contrast, the wicked pagans are “like chaff that the wind drives away”. These similes give us a word picture that we can relate to. Especially those in the ancient world where agriculture was natural to them. Today, someone who grew up in a city might not know what chaff is or what the wind has to do with it. But those ancient Israelites certainly did. (If you come across similes that you don’t understand as you read through the Psalms, be sure and Google it so you can grasp the picture that is being painted by the ancient Psalmist.)
Let’s look at a New Testament cross reference, the Beatitudes given by our Lord in His sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:1-12 (NLT)
1 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Notice Psalm 1 and Jesus’ sermon start with the word “blessed”.
“blessed” – ‘ešer – H835 – blessedness, happiness – and Jesus used the Greek equivalent in the Beatitudes.
Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says this word has the force of an interjection. I.e. you should have an exclamation point. “Blessed! Happy! Is the man…”
“From the perspective of the individual, this is a deep-seated joy and contentment in God; from the perspective of the believing community, it refers to redemptive favor (cf. the blessings and cursings of Deuteronomy 27:11-28:6)”. – ESV Study Bible
“He takes on wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when the ungodliness is put far from our actions.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Treasure of David, Pg 1
The man is described using negative terminology in verse 1 and positively in verse 2. I.e. the “does not” is described and then the “does” is described. “Blessed is the man who walks NOT”, “NOR”, “NOR”. Then, “But his delight IS”, “AND IN”. This blessed, happy man does not do these things but he does do these other things.
The blessed, happy, deeply joyful, content man:
- walks not in the counsel of the ungodly (who do not follow the advice of the wicked)
- nor stands in the path of sinners (or stand around with sinners)
- nor sits in the seat of the scornful (or join in with mockers)
- But his delight is in the law of the LORD
- And in His law he meditates day and night
Those are the actions of a godly, blessed man. Notice how to avoid trouble is to get away, stay away and don’t listen to the ungodly, sinners and scorners. You see, who you hang out with will soon affect your thinking and then your actions. We can’t avoid the world on a daily basis. We’d have to move to igloos in Antarctica to get away from ungodly humans today. So it’s not realistic to think you can isolate yourself from all the unsaved people in the world around you. Besides, how can you be a light and a witness to salvation through Jesus Christ if you never leave your igloo or cave?
But we have to be careful who we associate with on deeper levels. We have to realize that the unsaved, ungodly people in this world have no inner motivation to be good unless they get something out of it or to avoid a steep penalty. Let’s say a man is no longer “in love” with his wife and thinks about sleeping with another woman… The other woman gets pregnant, the wife finds out, she gets a divorce and he would be paying alimony to his ex-wife and child support to his ex-girlfriend. Instead, he does the right thing but his motivation didn’t come from his good heart. His motivation is the penalties for straying. They are steeper than he wants to pay so he comes home to his wife and leaves the other woman alone.
If you marry an unsaved spouse, you’ve married someone who doesn’t have the same value system you do. They don’t understand your commitment to God and God’s commandments. Their inner motivation only lasts as long as their needs are met, their desires are met, or they aren’t having to pay a penalty. As long as you are still pretty. As long as you don’t age. As long as you don’t gain weight or lose your hair. As long as you still work and provide the money he/she lives on. As long as you can still take care of his/her kids. As long as they still interest you sexually…
Eventually, they may come to the conclusion that they have enough affection for you and are afraid of the change and upheaval it would cause them to leave you. But that is as good as it gets with a person who is not a Christian. It’s not all that altruistic. It’s very selfish. Can you build a real commitment and lifelong relationship with any real security with an unsaved spouse who basically uses you for their own purposes and will stick around only as long as you still fit their need?
Do we really want to date an unsaved person and run the risk of falling in love with someone who doesn’t have the same religious faith and values that we do? Do we want to go into business with someone who doesn’t have the same value system? Do we want to be unequally yoked in any relationship with someone who doesn’t share the same relationship with God that we do?
Let’s say you need a roofer to put on a new roof. They may not be a company of Christians and they may use sub-par materials, lie about the time they will show up, do a poor job because it’s hot outside, or short you when they run out of roofing nails. If they aren’t Christians, they will not lose one minute of sleep from stiffing you. On the other hand, if the penalties are steep enough to insure a business owner or employee would do you right because they don’t want to suffer the penalties, you might can allow them to do your roof. Let’s say it’s a new business and they need word-of-mouth references. A bad reference would hurt their business. Or let’s say you have the ability to sue them for bad work, then they would do a good job to avoid a law suit. Or maybe they know their warranty will hold their nose to a good job. They don’t want to have to be re-roofing your house next year for nothing because of the warranty so they do a good job the first time.
You see, you have to be careful about who you date, who you marry, who you do business with AND who your friends are. Don’t tell secrets to unsaved “friends” because they don’t have any motivation to keep it a secret. Don’t give your house keys to an unsaved “friend” because you might end up getting robbed. Unless the penalty is stiff enough to keep them honest, you can forget being able to trust them. This is super hard for young people to understand. They think everyone they talk to is a new “friend” and they can’t believe the good looking teenage boy (via a picture on the Internet) with whom they are texting is really a 40 yr old loser still living in his parent’s basement and a sexual pervert. They can’t believe the new boy in class would take the photos you sent him and broadcast them to the whole school. They can’t believe the girlfriend they told their secret to, told everyone on Facebook.
So be careful who you associate with on any deep level. That doesn’t mean that your Christian friends can’t let you down. They are sinners who face temptations and your Christian spouse may run off with your best friend or your Christian sister may accidentally blab your secrets to your Sunday School class. There are plenty of Christian businessmen/women who can do bad jobs. We are all faulty human beings. But, at least we should be starting with the same basic platform of our faith in Jesus Christ, the work of sanctification by the indwelling Holy Spirit and the wisdom and guidance in the Bible as the Word of God. We must always remember that our first and foremost Friend is really only Jesus Christ. He is our only true, real, honest, dependable, ever faithful Savior and Friend.
“When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely ‘walk in the counsel’ of the careless and ‘ungodly’, who forget God – the evil is rather practical than habitual – but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they ‘stand in the way’ of open ‘sinners’ who wilfully violate God’s commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they ‘sit in the seat of the scornful’. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial.” – Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Vol I, Pg 2
The other actions of a blessed and happy person is to “delight” in the law of the Lord and “meditate” on it day and night.
“delights” – ḥēp̄eṣ – H2656 – delight, pleasure; desire, longing; the good pleasure; that in which one takes delight. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “delight” means a high degree of gratification or pleasure; inward joy; also, extreme satisfaction.
“meditate” – hāḡâ – H1897 – a primitive root (compare H1901); to murmur (in pleasure or anger); by implication, to ponder:—imagine, meditate, mourn, mutter, roar, speak, study, talk, utter.
Ask yourself, Do I delight in the Bible, God’s Word? Take some quiet time and ponder on why you do, or do not, find joy, pleasure, delight and satisfaction from reading the Bible? If you have a list of reasons why you don’t delight in reading your Bible… I guarantee that for each one of the reasons, there is a solution. So the next question is, What are you going to do about it?
The Bible is boring. It’s not if you begin a deeper study on things that interest you. Let’s say you have a question and you want to try and find the answer. Examples: Are there really angels? Why do bad things happen? Does God control the weather? What did Adam and Eve eat when they were first created? What is a biblically healthy diet? Were there really giants? How did fishermen change the world? What does the Bible say about beauty?
The Bible is overwhelming. It’s not if you break it into bite sized pieces. You don’t have to sit down and read the whole Bible in 6 days. It’s not a school course where you have to read a literary novel in 6 days before you take a test. Read a chapter a day. Or a few verses a day. Or read as long as you want. Just read it!
The Bible is too hard to understand. It’s not if you ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you are reading. And if you realize that the more you read and study it, the more understanding you will have for it. Heck, as you read it, make a list of questions. Then go back and do some study on each of the questions you had. All it takes is time and reading and you can teach yourself anything. I bet if you wanted to know how to make a certain fly for fishing you would know how to look up a Youtube video on it, Google it, read about it, get some fly fishing books, go to classes, etc. You can teach yourself about anything that interests you. So do the same with the Bible. If you have a question, do some research. And it helps if you get into a Bible believing church with a well-read pastor who might can direct you or answer your questions. Get in some classes, read some books, listen to Youtube videos of reputable pastors, teachers. Train yourself on researching what interests you in the Bible.
There are too many contradictions in the Bible. There really aren’t. When you find a contradiction, make a note of it. Then research it. The more you learn about it, the more you will understand that it wasn’t a contradiction after all. But that takes time and study. As long as you can read, and you have the current resources available to you for free on the Internet, you can figure it out.
Another thing is to meditate on it. Notice the Hebrew word for “meditate” included to ponder, imagine, meditate, mutter, roar, speak, study, talk, utter. It’s more than just reading. How many times have I read something and then completely lost track of what I was reading. It didn’t make a dent in my mind. I have to re-read it. I have to go back over it again with more focus. I have to read it outloud. I have to listen to someone read it outloud. I have to sing it. I have to repeat it, utter it, mutter it, speak it. I have to ponder and study on it. Memorizing it is another way to meditate on it. My meditation often comes out through blogging about it. I write out my research. I write it out in my Bible in notes. I write it out in my journaling. I write it out with verse mapping. I write it out, eventually in my blog. This is a way of meditating. I’m studying it and then meditating on it.
People learn in different ways. Some learn better by doing it with their own hands. Others want to listen to someone or watch a video first. Still others will think about it and see it in their minds, use their imaginations. And others may read it and grasp it. But everyone learns by repeating it in one way or another (singing it, memorizing it, re-reading it, listening to it, watching it, writing about it, using your art medium to meditate on it). Let’s say you are a good musician. You may meditate by coming up with tunes and melodies, new worship songs, scripture songs, etc. Or maybe you are an artist and you paint the pictures that come to your head when you read the Word. Or maybe you have teaching abilities and you really are meditating and learning even as you prepare and teach a lesson. There are all kinds of ways to study and meditate on the Bible. I use a combination that works for me. I write it, I study it, I read and re-read it in different translations, I may pull it up on Youtube and listen to someone read the passage aloud. There are those, especially with the Psalms, that have created songs about a passage and so I can listen to their song. I blog, I use my Adobe Photoshop Elements and my computer skills to verse map in 12 x 12 sheets that can be printed. I sing it. I listen to Youtube videos of good, reputable teachers/preachers (Mike Winger is a good one! Melissa Dougherty is another good one!) I talk it out with my husband or friends. I have taught it. I draw little stick figure cartoons in the margins of my Bible as they come to me. I’m a copious note taker. All of these are ways I focus on, and meditate on, the Bible. I can’t play a musical instrument or paint a wonderful picture or do Bible art journals that others do. But I can do what I can do and I do it with the Word of God.
Now we get to the next verse.
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 blessed and happy person is not associating with sinners and getting into trouble but he is finding delight in the Bible and meditates on it to get it ever deeper into his heart. This person is likened to a planted tree, planted by rivers of water. Spurgeon points out that this is NOT a wild tree that just happens to come up. It’s a “planted” tree which indicates someone has ownership of it and has planted it carefully and with thought so that it will grow and give good fruit. When we are saved, we become like trees planted by God. He carefully plants us and cultivates our growth and delights in the fruit that eventually comes from us.
In the Bible, wood and trees, often symbolize humanity.
In the arid areas where these ancient Israelites lived, water was highly valued. Unfortunately, today in modern America, we don’t always realize how precious water is. We take for granted that we can go turn on the water at the sink and there it is! Water that we can drink, cook with, bathe in is taken for granted in America. Our country has been blessed with water in most areas of our nation. There are those who live in arid areas that don’t have natural water close by and they value water. There are those who suffer times of drought who value water. But, most of us have taken it for granted. The Israelites who were agrarians, had to water their livestock and crops by some means. So planting near a river, spring, well, assured them of water (unless there was a drought) that was desperately needed for them to eat, live and profit. Many times they irrigated by hard manual labor. They would dig wells (back then, that was by hand!). They would build aqueducts to carry water. They dug artificial trenches, or ditches, from the water source, to run rivulets between their fruit trees so there was a constant supply of moisture.
In the Bible, water often symbolizes the Holy Spirit and/or the Word. Right now, during the Church Age, God sent the Holy Spirit into the world with a job to do. According to the Bible it is to work on the hearts of the unsaved and lead them to salvation. God doesn’t force anyone to be saved but the Holy Spirit is always working in the world to invite them and lead them to salvation.
John 16:5-11 (NLT, parenthesis mine, Jesus speaking) 5 “But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. 6 Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. 7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate (the Holy Spirit) won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
Once we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us to help us to grow, mature in the spirit. We have been planted as trees and the Holy Spirit carries the water of the Word, with it’s nutrients, to our born-again spirit so we gain spiritual strength and sustenance. Here are the scripture references for this:
John 14:23-26 (NLT) 23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV) Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 2:10-12 (NLT) 10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
I encourage you to read this article about the work of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT) 12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
John 5:16, 19-24; 31-40 (NLT, Jesus healed a man on the Sababath) 16 So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules… 19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. 21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. 24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life… 31 “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. 33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. 36 But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you. 39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.”
1 Peter 1: 21-25 (NLT, note: another word for “Good News” is the “Gospel”) 21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.
22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.
23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say,
“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
25 But the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.
1 Peter 2:1-3 (NLT) 1 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
Matthew 4:1-4 (NLT) 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NLT) 14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
God has carefully, thoughtfully planted each of us as trees. He made sure we would have a constant supply of water and nutrients for our spiritual growth. AND, when we cooperate with His planting and His cultivation, guess what happens? Fruit grows! If a fruit tree is planted in good soil and has a steady supply of water and is carefully kept from enemies who would destroy the trees, then a tree should naturally bear good fruit.
There are plenty of enemies who would stunt our growth or even destroy us if they could. Satan uses many tactics, demons and people to try and destroy our spirit and our spiritual growth. Just like birds and insects, pests, marauding wild animals and evil men… the trees have enemies that would destroy the tree or fruit. Have you ever seen a bear destroy a tree by rubbing up against it to scratch itself? Or beavers who cut them down to use for their beaver dams? Or hail that beats the tree? Or insects riddle a tree and kill it? But God knows all about these enemies of His trees and, as a careful orchardist, He knows how to stop these enemies OR use them to make the tree stronger rather than weaker! God allows some pruning and some rough treatment at times, based on the tree. Some trees need some rough treatment to grow stronger instead of breaking and twisting. Some trees need limbs trimmed so the limbs left will grow stronger to hold more fruit. On the other hand, if God knows an enemy is going to destroy one of His trees, He will stop the enemy. Some trees are more delicate than others and need more careful tending to prevent utter destruction. Young, immature trees may need a fence built around them for a time until they get strong enough. Delicate varieties of fruit trees may need more protection. Fruit trees in the blossoming stage may need more protection. Only God, the Great Orchardist, knows how to best develop each individual fruit tree to bring about the greatest beauty, fruit and foliage. We can trust in His Love and His Wisdom to care for us as His precious trees.
Romans 8:26-30 (NLT) 26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
The natural result of careful planting, cultivation, protection and provision would be good fruit AND healthy foliage. “and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” We’ve all seen plants that aren’t healthy and their leaves are the first indication. When we see curling leaves, brown leaves, falling leaves occurring (when it’s not time for it such as the Fall), we know the tree isn’t healthy and may be dying. On the other hand, when we see new leaves forming, bright green and the mature leaves a healthy green and we see rampant foliage we know the tree is healthy. I’m sure God keeps a careful watch over the foliage of each individual fruit tree (all true believers). If He sees evidence of withering, He knows what is wrong and what to do to reverse the damage. What a glorious Orchardist we have!!!!
“He prospers in all that he does.” Does this mean that Christians should be rich, healthy, famous, with the Midas golden touch? Not hardly. There are prosperity preachers who would take this section of verse out of context and teach that it does.
This whole Psalm teaches us that those who follow God as true believers and who attempt to be obedient to His leading, are blessed, happy, joyous, yielding good fruit, having abundant foliage and are prosperous in all we do. And, yet, all that has to do with our spiritual lives, not necessarily our physical and material lives. It may come out in our material and physical lives. God still heals and God still provides and God still protects. It is His wisdom, timing, love, mercy and grace that still will do miracles in the physical, material world. Even these are used by Him for our spiritual growth. Our sin bodies and our sinful world are yet to be dealt with. Our bodies won’t be redeemed until we die. Our physical bodies have to die before they can be resurrected as immortal and perfect. Our bodies are the seed that is sown when we die and from that seed, God brings eternal life with a perfect, resurrected body. So we will still have to deal with sickness, disease, injury, aging unless God provides a particular miracle based on His Mercy and Wisdom. But our spirits, born when we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, are already eternal. Our spirit is promised blessing, fruitfulness, and prosperity. That begins as soon as we are born again. The Holy Spirit comes to reside in us and begin the sanctification and maturing of our spirit. Our spirits are carefully planted, cultivated, matured, fruitful and prosperous.
Next question is what is “fruit”? I mean, if I believed in the prosperity, health-and-wealth teachers, the fruit might be a lot of money, a lot of new church members to beef up the roles and coffers, some healings and fancy cars. But the Bible tells us what the Fruit of the Spirit is:
Galatians 5: 19-25 (NLT) 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
As I said above, God still does miracles but He does them according to His wisdom, timing, mercy and love. His motivation is not to just relieve us of some problem but to deepen and mature our spirit. Right now, I have a sister in Christ who’s son was in a work place accident. A chemical explosion happened right in his hands. At first they worried that the chemical would keep burning his skin and his internal system (eyes, lungs) as it normally does. They feared for his life. They feared for his face and hands. They sent him to the Augusta Burn Center by helicopter. This was a serious accident that could end in him dying. Normally the chemical inhaled would damage his lungs or swell and he wouldn’t be able to breath. In fact, his first words were he couldn’t see and he couldn’t breath. They intubated him! Over the next few days, God healed him. His face and hands were fine. No lost fingers, no burns to his skin. There were some burns somehow on his back but not as serious. He was able to come off the breathing tube and is breathing well. He can open his eyes and see figures but still blurry. He was sent home from the Burn Center and continues to recuperate. This is a God miracle. The Doctors could not explain it. So miracles do happen! I have a cousin who was in a serious accident. He fell asleep at the wheel and run up under a transfer trailer truck. First miracle, it didn’t kill him instantly or cut his head off. Second miracle, he was unconscious and trapped in the car and the car caught on fire. First responders got him out. The doctors told his parents he may not make it through the night as they rushed to the hospital. Then they said he would be a vegetable. Then they said he would never walk again. Within a few days he was out of the hospital walking on his own two legs and he took his exams for college and passed. That was a God miracle that the doctors couldn’t understand. I have plenty of stories of miracles of healing, provision, protection. BUT, these miracles aren’t done because God owes us something or we have enough faith and claim enough promises in the Bible. That would be OUR work instead of GOD’S work. Miracles aren’t based on what I DO, but what GOD DOES and He does them at times when it’s most productive to the people around the miracle. It may lead some to be saved. It may lead saved believers to a deeper relationship with God. It may be the shot of fertilizer to that fruit tree that the fruit tree needs. God is more concerned about the eternal spirit than the dying physical body and world.
In talking about the true believer who follows God, there is one last scripture that I would tie this up with:
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NLT) 14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
The next verse is emphatic: “The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away”.
“wicked” – rāšāʿ – H7563 – morally wrong; concretely, an (actively) bad person:— condemned, guilty, ungodly, wicked (man), that did wrong.
(from the root word H7561 rāšaʿ a primitive root meaning to be (causatively, do or declare) wrong; by implication, to disturb, violate:—condemn, make trouble, vex, be (commit, deal, depart, do) wicked(-ly, -ness).)
“Chaff” – the seed coverings and other debris separated from the seed in threshing grain; the outer layer that is separated from grains such as wheat before they are used as food; is the outer part of grain such as wheat and is removed before the grain is used; trivial or worthless matter as grain chaff is worthless.
For those who have never seen threshing and winnowing, it would help if you did a search on Google and see how different people do it. But basically it means beating the grain and using wind to blow off the worthless chaff that is beaten off the wheat. As far as I know, chaff isn’t used for anything. It’s definition means something worthless. Once separated from the valuable part of the grain, the wind can blow it around at will.
This Psalm says that “the Lord knows the way of the righteous”. This is not just recognition but it indicates a personal intimacy and involvement with His righteous ones. We are not righteous because of our good works but because Jesus Christ died to give us His righteousness! So God is intimately aware of each one of His Children and I’m one of them! You can be too! We are not worthless chaff, we are His precious fruit trees.
At the end times, Jesus comes and He judges the world. Each human being who lived, or lives, at this time will stand before Jesus. Those of us who are saved, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and we, His sheep, are separated from the unsaved, the goats. The valuable grain is separated from the worthless chaff. We go on to be with Him during eternity. But the unsaved will be blown right into the fire of judgment for eternity. “The way of the wicked will perish.” When judgment day comes, “the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous”. The unsaved are separated out for judgment. The saved are separated out for Heaven.
Matthe 16:21-28 (NLT) 21 From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. 28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
Matthew 25:31-46 (NLT) 31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Romans 2:4-11 (NLT) 4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
Revelation 20:11-15 (NLT) 11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. 14 Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. 15 And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Where will you spend your eternity?