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Harry’s story could be repeated many times over. But there are many others who have walked with God from their youth. They love God and they love the Word of God. With the psalmist they say: “Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:129-130). They too know by experience that the way of God works. They have experienced the blessing of walking with God and they know the joy that a life in him gives. They are like healthy trees planted by the river of God. The water of life flows into them and they produce fruit. Their fruit is the fruit the Spirit of God gives them as described in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” As the Spirit of God comes into their lives, they produce the same character traits as the Spirit of God himself has. His life becomes their life. Their lives are full of the good things of God, the fruit of his Spirit. Their leaves do not wither and everything they do prospers.
We have a flowering crab tree in our back yard. We have been working on it every year, pruning it and keeping it trimmed. Last year there were so many crab apples that we scooped them up and hauled them away by the wheelbarrow load. This Spring the blossoms were especially beautiful and full. But in the last couple of weeks the tree has been hit by some kind of blight and the leaves are withering and falling off the tree already. There are no insects on the leaves, they just appear to be drying up and dying on their own. There may not be any crab apples this year. In fact, we are concerned that the tree may not live. Our tree is the opposite of the picture of the tree in Psalm 1. The tree which represents the one who faithfully follows God is robust and full of fruit. Think of Harry Foster living under an overpass, dirty and drunk. Now picture him preaching the Word of God and ministering to other needy people. That is the picture of a tree full of life and producing fruit. Under his tree people find shelter and he is able to give them nourishment.
The third thing we notice about this psalm is: The psalm describes the way of the sinner. He writes: “Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away” (Psalm 1:4). The righteous are like a tree, but the wicked are like chaff. Chaff is what surrounds the kernel of wheat. In order for the kernel to be useful the chaff has to be rubbed off and taken away. The farmers of ancient Israel pushed their winnowing forks into a pile of wheat and threw it up into the air so that the chaff would be blown away in the wind. We saw this in Haiti as the women would place the grain in a pile, spread it out and then walk barefoot across it in a shuffle in order to rub the chaff from the wheat. Chaff is not good for food or anything else. It has no nutrients or substance so that it is only good for being blown away by the wind. Contrast a tree to chaff and you get some idea of how this psalm sees the
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