Psalm 1: Be the Tree
Psalm 1 (NIV) 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 streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
I've lived my entire life in the east bay, but I rarely hung out near Hope Center until I started working here in 2018. Within my first few weeks working at Hope Center, something caught my eye. I called it the "Savannah Tree." This "Savannah Tree" was up high on a hill I would pass every time I drove to Hope Center. I thought it looked cool. It reminded me of a tree you would see on a safari. One day I was heading home after work when I decided that I wanted to go and find the "Savannah Tree."
I drove up the hill I thought it was on.
I drove up another street thinking it could be the one.
Finally, I gave up and drove home. But I promised myself that one day I would find that tree.
One month into "shelter in place" I decided that it was time to find the Savannah Tree. Clare and I hoped in my car (I like to think my car was like a dog ecstatic that he finally is getting a walk) and headed toward Hope Center. Clare and I spent half an hour going through different streets trying to find this tree. We thought that maybe the tree was behind a gate and we would never find it. We decided we'd try one last route.
Finally, at the end of a street, there it was. The "Savannah Tree."
What was it about the Savannah Tree that made me want to go and find it? I think because it was so noticeable. It stood out among all the beautiful trees as the most epic looking.
The writer of Psalm 1 writes that the person "whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night" is like a really dope tree. This tree has a ton of fruit. It's a healthy tree. Everything this tree does is awesome.
The book of Psalms is a book of songs, poems, and prayers. These chapters were written by a bunch of different authors at different times but are compiled here as a collection. Kinda like a "Greatest Hits" album.
So what does it mean to "delight in the law of the Lord" and "meditate on [it] day and night?" The "law of the Lord" has two meanings here. The Hebrew word that is here is "Torah" which both literally means "teaching" as well as the first five books of the Old Testament (really the only part of the Bible people had then). This chapter serves and intro to this new type of "Torah," the book of Psalms.
If you use these book of Psalms like it was intended, read them, pray them, and live them, then you will be like that dope tree. The Bible isn't just another "book." When we read the Bible, it has the power to change our lives. The Holy Spirit comes and connects the content of Scripture to our experiences. So when we read our Bibles (and I mean REALLY read them) then we can expect our lives to change for the better. God's Word is like our water and sunlight and nutrients.
Those who don't follow God's Word are like "chaff" blown away in the wind. Chaff was the leftovers from harvesting grain or seeds that don't grow. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be chaff. I want to GROW. I want to be like the Savannah Tree. But the reality is that we all have seasons where we aren't growing. We always fail. The only person who perfectly lived this out was Jesus Himself. The good news is that there is underserved grace for us when we act more like the wicked chaff than the dope tree. But it's important to see this Psalm as an invitation. It's an invitation to grow through God's Word. We may never do that perfectly. But it's a challenge that we can take on with God's help.
Challenge: Get outside. Find a tree or a place to sit down. Flip through the book of Psalms and find one that stands out to you. Read it. Read it again. Write down everything that stands out to you. Pray the words of the Psalm. This may seem awkward at first (it's normal if it does) but it's just a time to spend with just you and God. It only has to be a few minutes.
Finally, if you're comfortable with it, share what stood out to you! You can share with a parent, sibling, friend, small group leader, etc.