Trees Planted By Streams Of Water — Psalm 1

Trees Planted By Streams Of Water — Psalm 1

This semester, I am taking a class called Systematic Theology. We dive into the rich tradition of Christian history, looking at the basic doctrines of theology as explored and defined by major figures of the Christian faith ? Irenaeus, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and many more. I?m very excited for this class in digging into the doctrines of the Christian faith and incorporating them all into my personal theology and my preaching and teaching.

One assignment for the class is to do regular Scripture journals, looking at some texts my professor called ?the crown jewels of Scripture.? Ultimately, these coming blog posts this semester has a threefold purpose: 1) For me to have regular devotions in Scripture while reflecting and writing about them. 2) To complete a requirement for my Systematic Theology class. 3) And to give Galva Christian Church a word of devotion from Scripture regularly outside of Sunday mornings.

?[The righteous] are like trees planted by streams of water,which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.In all that they do, they prosper.?

? Psalm 1:3 NRSV

As described in Psalm 1, what does it mean to be ?like trees planted by streams of water??

The psalmist describes those who are happy as delighting in the law of God and meditating on it in all moments (Ps 1:2). I love the imagery of the tree firmly planted by a river.

Strong trees are firmly planted in the ground and can?t be moved. The winds and gusts and storms push and pull upon it, but the tree cannot budge out of its deeply rooted place in the ground. Old, strong trees stay in place. They give home to birds and squirrels. In autumn, they litter beautiful leaves colored with yellows, oranges, browns, and golds. The long branches provide shade for any passersby looking for relief from a hot sun. Old, strong trees are consistent. Each and every year, they provide fruit or seed. Every new spring season, they sprout new leaves.

All throughout the Old Testament, and the book of Psalms in particular, strong and firm are those deeply rooted in God?s laws and commands. Righteous are those who follow them knowing who gave them ? the God who saved his people from captivity time and time again. In this firm foundation, the firmly planted trees of faith are not left alone, but are given provision.

?They are like trees planted by streams of water.?

All trees need sustenance. All trees need sunlight. All trees need water. This tree is not planted in a desert all by its lonesome. No, this tree is firmly planted by a stream of water. The river provides the water the roots crave. God gives the provision of sunlight and water for the tree to grow.

As Psalm 1 describes, the righteous are firmly planted trees by water. That water must be God?s words. The wicked and sinners are not rooted deeply. They are dry. They can?t last when the wind and storms come. They are like a withered tree in the middle of a desert.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

The wicked are not firmly planted in God?s words. They don?t get to partake of God?s life-giving streams of water. Their way is one of death and decay. The bark upon their tree dries up. The leaves don?t come every season. The branches fall down in slight gusts. The wicked tree turns into chaff in the wind.

Back home, I live in a pretty wooded area. My family owns about three acres and about a third of it is wooded. We have all sorts of trees and plants all across the property. We have locust, hickory, walnut, and oak trees. We see wildlife all the time ? hares, groundhogs, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, cranes, and wild turkeys.

Each season brings a unique look to my backyard. The spring brings about bright greens from the grass on the ground to the tops of trees. Wild flowers bloom alongside animals scurrying about the ground. The summer brings about more animals doing their daily gathering and sauntering. Summer rainstorms come and go. The fall brings about the beauty of changing leaves, squirrels scurrying and digging. The winter coats the ground in beautiful white snow. I see prints and tracks of all the backyard animals.

In this photo below, I took it one evening during Christmastime 2015. I did some light editing to see the colorful clouds sneak up behind each and every tall tree. The powerful sunset distorted the colors of the sky from blue to pink and purple. It seemed as though the forest behind the trees forefront was on fire. Yet, it was the powerful sun resting its way as day turned to night.

I know a lot about good trees and bad trees. I know much about strong trees and weak trees. I know plenty about dead trees and living trees. I see new trees and old trees.

This isn?t in some poetic sense, but the truth. Being home for school breaks and summer vacation, one of the common chores is to pick up all the fallen limbs and branches after heavy thunderstorms or strong windstorms. We do this to protect our mower from being destroyed by large sticks and branches.

The strong trees are my favorite. They don?t drop limbs needing to be cut up by a chainsaw, nor drop branches after every slight breeze. They stand tall and defiant against the weathers of the storms.

Being like a tree planted by a stream of water is who we must be. As the psalmist describes, these firmly planted trees do this: ?on [God?s] law they meditate day and night? (Ps 1:2).

All too often, we behave not as trees firmly rooted in the ground. We often act as the scurrying squirrels in the fall I see every season. We dance and fright around, digging holes, trying to find food, and figuring out where to hold post for the winter season.

We often scurry around in our daily lives. We over commit ourselves. We stay busy simply to stay busy. We overload ourselves with constant stimulation of social media, internet, and television. We are always on the move. We never stop or slow down.

We fall into temptation to sin. We fall prey that that carnivorous beast who wants to control and destroy us. Yet, it is through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus where he has given the poisoning death blow to that beast.

Sin is on its way out. Sin has been defeated and is being washed up. That sinful beast is cornered. Yet, we often feed it instead of starving it. We feed the beast. In the corner, the beast is still trying to devour whomever it can find.

The beast comes and goes in new ways and new flavors. In distraction, the beast thrives. In constant stimulation, the beast is fed. The beast eats us from the inside out. The beast is sin.

What is sin, but the actions we do that aren?t wholly good? The actions that aren?t life-giving, either to ourselves or to others. The actions that don?t reflect the life-giving creative actions of our life-giving God. Sin poisons, decays, destroys, and distracts us.

What?s it mean to be like a tree firmly planted by a stream of water? It means to be meditating on God day and night, in every waking moment.

You see, we are often distracted. Each and every year, the days and weeks and months feel like they?re getting shorter and quicker. Work keeps demanding more and more. Our families need more attention. Our digital age is making things far more faster to where we don?t even get the change to process what?s going on.

What?s it mean to be like a tree firmly planted by a stream of water? It means to be meditating on God day and night, in every waking moment.

We need to slow down and simply sit. In our time today, no matter our age, it is sometimes hard and troubling to sit in silence. It?s challenging to meditate and think through our daily habits, relationships, opportunities, and the ways we have fallen short. But this is what we must do.

We cannot keep scurrying like squirrels preparing for winter. We must stand tall and defiant, like a powerful tree with deep roots clinging to the ground.

As we meditate with God, know this: ?Be still and know that I am God? (Ps 46:10). God is life-giving. As you meditate like a tall, powerful tree planted in the ground, know that God isn?t to cut you down, but to give you sustenance.

Remember his works of salvation for creation. Remember his Son Jesus, who he sent to do all of this. For those who are tired of sin, ready for that beast to finally starve, Jesus grants healing. Rest in Christ, God?s true Word. Stand firm in Christ?s works. Think about them when you wake up and go to sleep, when you rise and when you fall, when you work and when you come home, when you eat and when you clean, when you rest and when you bustle.

Meditating is hard. Yet, doing it in Christ ? knowing his salvation and resurrection and hope?it will transform us from scurrying autumn squirrels to old, strong trees powerfully defiant amongst the storms.


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