Psalm 1 NRSV
1 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,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 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.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Note that the first Psalm presents us with “a tree by a stream” imagery. This imagery would take the reader back to the Garden of Eden, which is between four rivers, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. One might also recall that the Bible ends with “tree by a stream” imagery, the Tree of Life standing beside the river of the water of life in Revelation 22. What are we to make of the idea that at the beginning, middle, and end of the Bible, we have important presentations of a tree beside water? These important passages require careful consideration for us today.
Here also we are introduced to another theme of the Psalms – that the righteous will have their reward, and the wicked will experience destruction. We know that this is not the case in the world in which we live, but we do trust that God will set all things right. There is order in the world, and there is justice to be had. Until that point, we enjoy the fruits of our labors “in season” – maybe not at all times, but at the right time.
This psalm sets the tone for the rest of the psalms – we who profess to love God are marked by our “meditation” on the Law of God; not only our mediation on, but our “delight” in the Law of God. We think about how to order our lives in accordance with God’s law, and we do it with gladness in our hearts. This is how we can stay rooted along with these trees of our faith. This is how we can produce good fruit for this world that is so hungry for God.
Gracious and loving God, you produce good fruit in our lives when we are rooted in your will. Continue to reveal yourself to us. Continue to teach us your ways of generosity, faithfulness, obedience, and love. May we stay grounded in you that we might offer you to the world around us. Amen.