Like a tree planted by water

The Standard May 6, 2021

The Book of Psalms opens, “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 steams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

Blessed are we if we delight in God’s word, meditate on it and walk in the ways prescribed.  As the beloved old hymn reminds us, we must “trust and obey.” The beginning of the first chapter of Psalms makes me think of an Old Testament passage one seminary professor used to read to us at the start of every class.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

We know that heat or drought will come, but our roots steady us for the difficult times. God is the foundation who will help us stand firm when darkness or bad news arrives. He will be our light as well as our shade. Our lives might not be rich by the world’s standards, but will be characterized by an abundance of love, peace, joy, and generosity.

“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.”  (Psalm 112: 1-9)

Jesus warned his disciples of the opposition and hardships they would face, but always gave them hope. His words encourage us as well. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

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