Summary: Every action we take has consequences for where we end up - so where we plant our lives is critical.
“Renewable Energy: Rooting for Yourself”
Barb and I have discovered that where we plant a tree in our yard makes all the difference in whether or not it grows into maturity and productivity. This is so because some of our yard is good soil and some of it is thick clay; good soil works well for growing trees while clay does not. Psalm 1, similarly, is all about establishing roots in good soil.
The Psalmist paints a portrait of two lifestyles and the corresponding results. He establishes the fact the in life THERE IS A GREAT DIVIDE. The Continental Divide is an amazing place. At the Divide, raindrops can fall to the earth just inches apart but end up in oceans in opposite ends of the world. Where the rain drop falls makes all the difference in where it ends up. So it is with life; EVERY ACTION WE TAKE HAS CONSEQUENCES FOR WHERE WE END UP. The Old Testament is filled with this teaching. Deuteronomy 28 & 29 is the most explicit. God told the Israelites that if they would live a certain way, follow certain patterns of living, they would experience blessing and abundance. But if they did not live that way or follow those patterns, they would lack blessing and abundance. So the Psalmist concludes (6) “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” THE ROADS WE WALK, THE RULES WE LIVE BY, THE SOIL IN WHICH WE PLANT OURSELVES ALL DETERMINE OUR FINAL DESTINATION.
Let’s look more closely at the teaching of the Psalmist. (3) “Whatever he (the blessed man) does prospers.” THERE IS A POSITION OF PROSPERITY. It is seen throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Genesis records the account of Joseph’s life. Even though Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, separated from his father, and imprisoned for doing the morally right thing we nevertheless read that “Joseph…prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.”(Gen. 39:2) Prosperity has to do with influence. Deuteronomy 28:11: “The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity – in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground…” It has to do with abundance for living. Jeremiah 17:6 tells us that the person who depends upon himself “Will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity (‘good’) when it comes.” It has to do with goodness. Similarly, Ps. 84:11: “For the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” It has to do with abundance and blessing.
So in Psalm 1 we find a strong connection between blessing and prosperity; in fact, they are interchangeable “Blessed is the man who…Whatever he does prospers.” And the word ‘blessed’ is plural: literally the Psalmist wrote that ‘many are the blessings upon the one who…’ PROSPERITY IS NOT RELATED TO WEALTH BUT TO WELL-BEING. PROSPERITY IS SPIRITUAL – IT PERTAINS TO THE SOUL. Prosperity is not primarily wealth, or money, or status, or popularity, or fame, or success; rather, prosperity has to do with a person’s wholeness – with a state of abundance, goodness, blessing, health, and security. Prosperity is spiritual – it pertains to the soul.
The second noteworthy feature of this picture of prosperity is that PROSPERITY COMES FROM A CENTRAL SOURCE. Psalm 1:6: “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous…” How does He do that? Again, from the account of Joseph: “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.” Consider Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 28:11: “The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity – in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground…” The same chapter, verse 63: “…it pleased the Lord to make you prosper…” Jeremiah wrote (17:5-7): “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes…But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
But how do we gain this state of prosperity? The Palmist shows that THERE IS A PATH TO PROSPERITY. Psalm 1:2 – “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” To prosper we must have deep affection for and pay diligent attention to the law – the words, will, and revelations of God. This is precisely what Jeremiah told the Israelites (6:16): “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” The ancient path, the good way, was the law. The Psalmist says, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD…” The blessed prosperous man DELIGHTS IN THE WORD OF GOD. The year after I met Barb I was in Central College in Pella, Iowa. I had placed a picture of her on my desk. Every time I sat down to study or write a letter, her image was there. I thought about her, delighted in her, renewed my commitment to her. That picture of Barb kept her in my mind and ultimately kept her in my heart. Keeping the Word of God in focus will keep God in our hearts.