Summary: Lessons on the godly life from Psalm 1
The Tree By the River Psalm 1
INTRO.: Trees are very prominent in the Bible: Their creation is recorded in Gen. 1:11. Referred to in Gen. 2:8, 9. Life and knowledge of good and evil associated with trees. There are many prominent trees:
Abraham lived near the Oaks of Mamre.
Elijah sat under a Juniper tree.
Temple was built of Olive and cedar wood.
Zacchaeus climbed a Sycamore tree.
Nathaniel was seen under a fig tree.
Jesus cursed a fig tree for fruitlessness.
Of the trees Jesus saw, the most valuable was probably the Olive, but the one mentioned most often in the Bible is the fig tree, mentioned about fifty times.
The tree by the river mentioned in the psalm is undoubtedly the Date Palm. It grew almost exclusively along the banks of the Jordan. It was both evergreen and fruit bearing. Jericho was famous for its date palms, which grew to be 65 feet high and gave its nickname, "City of Palms."
This is the tree to which the psalmist compares the godly man. Let’s look at the comparison and see what we can learn about the Christian life.
I. The Godly man who is like a tree planted by the river:
A. Some things he does not do:
1. Follow the advice of wicked people who would lead him astray.
2. Stand in the way with sinners. This is the second step on a downhill progression.
3. Sit in the seat of mockers. The ultimate degeneration is to ridicule what is good. "a mocker does not listen to rebuke." Prov. 13:1
4. This is a sign of the last days. II Pet. 3:3
5. Prov. 1:10-15 contains great advice especially for young people.
B. His outstanding characteristic is his love for God’s Word.
1. Like a tree, the soul must have roots. Jer. 17:7, 8
2. The soul should be rooted in God’s Word.
3. Not enough to just go to the Bible occasionally seeking answers to life’s problems.
4. Ps. 119:14. "I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches."
5. We have a much fuller revelation than the psalmist and should delight in God’s Word even more.
C. The result of such a life:
1. He is like a tree planted, not growing wild.
2. Planted near the source of life, the streams of water.
3. Fruitful in Christian character and witness.
4. John 15:8 "This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
5. Prosperous. This is generally the natural course of events for the Godly person. God will bless those who serve Him.
6. If the righteous suffer, God will make it right in the judgement.
II. It is not so with the wicked:
A. They are like chaff blown away by the wind.
1. Job 21:17, 18 contains a similar description of the wicked.
2. John the Baptist told the fate of chaff driven by the wind in Lk. 3:17
3. ILLUS.: When corn in Illinois is picked, the cobs are piled up and the chaff burned so it won’t blow away and become ugly.
B. They face destruction in the judgement: There is a graphic description in Rev. 20:11-15
1. There will be no hiding place. Death, hades, and the sea will give up their dead along with heaven and earth.
2. All will be judged according to their works and if you don’t know Jesus, you can’t do enough good works to be saved.
3. There is a second death and it is eternal.
C. Possibly Jeremiah was thinking of Psalm 1 when he wrote Jer. 17:5-9
1. The error of the wicked is putting their trust in men.
2. Nothing is more uncertain than the plans of men.
3. Moreover, they arise out of evil hearts. Jer. 17:9
4. They will come to naught because a stream can’t rise above its source.
D. This contrasts with Jeremiah’s description of the man who puts his trust in the Lord.
1. Like a tree drawing its water from flowing streams, he draws his life from the Spirit of God.
2. Drought is a real threat to trees because of the huge amounts of water they use. If they don’t have enough water, their leaves wither and they die.
3. Trees sometimes die from droughts that denied them water as long as five years before they die.
4. God’s people are like ever green trees. They will never die.
CONC.: Our psalm closes with these words; "For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." God appreciates and rewards those who faithfully serve Him. He is aware of the actions and attitudes of those trying to live righteous lives.
In Matt. 3:10, John the Baptist warned the Jewish nation, "The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." I want to be like a good tree planted by rivers of water, not one God has to remove.