Psalm 1 Part 2 of 3
by John Lowe
Many people think that if they clean up their lives a little, that is all that is necessary. But notice “his delight is in the law of the LORD.” The delight of God’s man is in the law of the Lord. In other words, he finds joy in the Word of God. I wish I could get the message out to people that the Bible is a thrilling Book. It’s not a burden; it’s not boring. It is a real delight to read and study the Word of God. Blessed is the man—happy is the man—whose delight is in the law of the Lord. Today the great tragedy we see all around us is the heartbreak of broken homes, ruined and wrecked lives—and it is caused by God’s broken Laws. The Word of God makes it very clear, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5.3). His commandments for believers today are not only the Ten Commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
The idea that being saved by grace means that you can be lawless and live like you please is not the picture given to us in the Word of God. We are not to be lawless. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Gal. 5.13). Liberty is not license, by any means. Of course, we do not keep the Ten Commandments in order to be saved, but that doesn’t mean we are free to break them. It means, my friend, you cannot measure up to God’s Law. He demands perfection, and you and I don’t have it. We have to come to God by faith. After we are saved by faith, we are to live on a higher plane than the Law. We are to have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, which is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control. We have the discipline and guidance of grace.
“His delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate.” “Meditate” means to think about what you have read, and to go over it in your mind until you’ve got it. Meditation is certainly something believers need to do today. Remember that James spoke of a man who beholds his natural face in a mirror, then “. . . straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1.24). We are to meditate on the Word of God (which is God’s mirror that shows us what we really are). We are to allow the Word to shape our lives. Delighting in the Word and meditating on the Word must go together (Ps. 119.15, 16vi), because whatever we enjoy we think about and pursue. As God’s people, we should prefer God’s Word to food (Ps. 110.103vii), wealth (Ps. 119.14viii), and friends (Ps. 119.23ix). The way we treat the Bible is the way we treat Jesus Christ, because the Bible is His Word to us.
“And in his law doth he meditate day and night.” My friend, God has no program whereby you can grow and develop as a believer apart from His Word. You can become as busy as a termite in your church (and possibly with the same effect as a termite), but you won’t grow by means of activity. You will grow by meditating on the Word of God—that is, by going over it again and again in your thinking until it becomes part of your life. This is the practice of the happy man.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The psalmist paints a picture of the graciousness, stability, and prosperity which come to the “good man (“happy man”);” “whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” The image, therefore, is an expression of the prevalent view of that age that the secure and prosperous life here and now is the sign and reward of godliness. For all who take their delight in living by God’s Word, there is prosperity. Under the image of a fruitful tree, the psalmist declared that whatsoever the righteous do will prosper. But there are two qualifications that must be noted:
1. The fruit, that is, the prosperity, is produced in its season and not necessarily immediately after planting.
2. What the godly person does will be controlled by the Law of God (v. 2).
So if a person meditates on God’s Word, his actions will be godly, and his God-controlled activities will prosper, that is, come to their divinely directed fulfillment.
In the Old Testament, God promised material blessings to His own. Those blessings are not promised to believers today. If you have them, you can thank Him for giving you more than He promised. The important thing is to have Christ. That’s number one! All material blessings are zero. If you don’t have One before your zeros, you have only a goose egg. But if you put that One who is Christ, before your material blessings, then you are blessed indeed. But remember that He has not promised material blessings in this age.
The word rivers, in the Hebrew, is a hyperbole for abundance. The words “planted” and “rivers of water” are symbols of that which is necessary for the development of Spiritual life. A man must be planted in the “Word”—in the conception of God as the arbiter of right and wrong, and consequently must possess principles by which he lives—as the first step in godliness; he must be a man with “roots” growing deep in that which he draws life and power. And he must be planted by the rivers of the grace of God, from which he obtains constant renewal and refreshing.
In Scripture, water for drinking is a picture of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 10.4x), while water for washing pictures the Word of God (Ps. 119.9xi). Thirst for water is an image of thirst for God (Matt. 5.6xii), and the river is often the picture of God’s provision of spiritual blessing and help for His people (Ps. 36.8xiii). We can’t nourish and support ourselves; we must be rooted in Christ and drawing upon His spiritual power. To meditate on the Word (v. 2) is one source of spiritual energy, as are prayer and fellowship with God’s people.
What does rivers of water mean? This is the Word of God. Somebody may ask, “Are you sure about that? Well, I know that is what it means, because Isaiah 55.10, 11 tells me, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” God wants His Word to come down like rain. We are to get out the Word of God; and it will produce something—it will cause trees to grow.
God blesses us so that we might be a blessing to others (Ge. 12.2xiv). We are to become channels of God’s blessing to others. It’s a joy to receive a blessing but it is even a greater joy to be a blessing. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20.35).
The tree is a familiar image in Scripture, symbolizing both a kingdom (Matt. 13.32xv) and an individual (Prov. 11.30xvi); and because of the mostly arid terrain of Israel, a lush tree served as a fitting symbol of blessing in the Old Testament. Like a tree, the godly person is alive, beautiful, fruitful, useful, and enduring. The most important part of a tree is the hidden root system that draws up nourishment, and the most important part of a believer’s life is the “spiritual root system” that draws on the hidden resources we have in Christ (Eph. 3.17xvii; Col. 2.7xviii). This is known as “abiding in Christ” (John 15.1-9).
Trees may wither and die, but the believer who abides in Christ, stays fresh, green, and fruitful (Ps. 92.12-14xix). “Fruit” speaks of many different blessings; winning people to Christ (Rom. 1.13xx), godly character (Gal. 5.22-23xxi), money given to the Lord’s work (Rom. 15.28xxii), service and good works (Col. 1.10xxiii), and praise to the Lord (Heb. 13.15xxiv). It’s a tragedy when a believer ignores the “root system” and begins to wither. We must remember that the tree doesn’t eat the fruit; others eat it. We must also remember that the fruit isn’t the same as “results,” because fruit has in it the seed for more fruit. Fruit comes from life, the life of God flowing in and through us. Each tree “bringeth forth its fruit in its season.” It is interesting to note that God’s trees do not bring forth fruit all the time. They bring forth fruit in their season, and the power is in the Word of God. The primary business of a Christian is not soul-winning, but getting out the Word of God. It “bringeth forth its fruit in its season.” There is a time to get fruit.
God’s trees are planted (Lit. “transplanted”) trees. They are not wild-growing trees, by any means. I think this pictures being born again. Isaiah 61.3 says, “And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” God does not use wild-grown trees. His trees are born again, taken up and set out in God’s garden—set out by the rivers of water. Trees do not plant themselves; neither do sinful people transport themselves into God’s kingdom. Salvation is His marvelous work of grace (Matt. 15.13xxv). However, the Christian has the responsibility of appropriating the abundant resources of God (Jer. 17.8xxvi), which lead to eventual productivity.
The psalmist also says: “His leaf also shall not wither.” Now the leaf is the outward testimony of the Christian. That is something that should be out all the time. God’s trees are evergreens—they never lose their testimony. And if you are a Christian, you are always an evergreen. Your leaf is the outward testimony you have in this world for Christ. All God’s children are evergreens.