Psalm 1


The book of Psalms starts with a strange chord of truth. As songs of worship to a living God, we would think it would begin with lauding and adoration. Instead, it begins with us.

Do not walk, stand, or sit with the wicked, the sinners, or the mockers. They will be blown away. They have no foundation outside of their own confidences. Delight and meditate on God and his law. Then, you will be planted, like a tree, by the life-giver who grants sustenance.

What does it mean to delight on God's law and to ceaselessly meditate on it? The image of the planted tree should help.

The mention of a tree beside water is a call-back to Eden, and to the start of our world. God established an enchantment for these one armed, tall creations that stretch toward the heavens and lean back to the earth to provide fruit.

The first story, as we know, is entangled in the snare of a particular tree. It acts as a boundary line between humans as subject to God, and their desire to become like God without any relationship, or, in the language of Psalm 1, without any meditation.

There are other trees. Abraham journeys to the great tree of Moreh once he receives the call from God to go to Hebron. Here, at the great tree he finds out more clearly the next piece of the plan: God will define him in the land and give him roots.

Turn to Moses. He received the message to go and change history by a talking, burning bush tree. It was God in the tree exclaiming his mystery: I AM.

Elijah runs from Jezebel and the fire he called down from heaven. He makes it to the broom tree. After telling God he's had enough, an brings him warm bread, preparing him to experience God, not in the earthquake but in the whisper.

God says in Isaiah that his word will not return empty. Like the rain from heaven that grows seed, the trees will clap their hands and the mountains will burst with song as his word goes out in joy and peace.

Remember Zacchaeus, who uses the arms of the Sycamore tree to fall into the gaze of Jesus, or the palm leaves that become part of the pageantry of Jesus' humble entry into Jerusalem.

There are many more examples of trees and how they are used in Scripture, but these examples help hone in on the point of God's law. So...

Back to delight and meditation: God's law is about dependence. Like the tree that needs God's provisions to grow and yield fruit, we are asked to follow in a similar spirit. Our life is given to us so we will give it back, not to take and horde our time and talents for our own desires. We were created for a purpose: to worship our Maker who came and was strung on a tree, only to recreate… to reincarnate all of creation through his bodily resurrection.

And we know this to be true: "For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction" (vs. 6).