“They are like trees planted by streams of water yielding fruit in their season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper” (v.3) In Psalms one we are invited into an overwhelmingly clear picture reflecting the connection between God and His people and the effects of this divine relationship. From the beginning of this Psalm we see a lot of “don’t” commands regarding our interactions with those who don’t belong to Christ, but before we move on let’s get something clear here: this passage is NOT telling us to be disengaged from people who do not know God as their Savior. On the contrary, the counsel we see here is warning us to be aware of the stumbling that can occur as we do engage with them. These first few verses are telling us to be wise about how we conduct ourselves around those who are lost, explaining that we should not walk in the ways of the ungodly, seek out advice from them regarding our personal lives, or begin molding our opinions to match theirs. Why?
Those who don’t know God are those who are detached from the one true source of Living Water; they are not “like trees planted by streams of water”, and consequently their leaves will wither, they will not produce godly fruit and ultimately they will not prosper. This is why we are advised to engage but not be persuaded by the ways of those who do not walk with God, for those who do will be just like the picture painted for us in verse three. The overall nature of these trees who are planted, rooted and established by the Word is therefore nothing short of delight.
How can we structure our lives like that of the tree described in Psalms one? Being planted by streams of water represents the constant abiding nature of God’s people with Him, so what does that look like for you? To meditate on the word of God day and night will look very different for everyone, so it’s crucial that we get extremely real with ourselves and with God and make up our minds to prioritize abiding with God (being planted) in whatever unique ways He calls us to. As a parent, a nurse, an officer, a sales clerk, a student, a friend, etc. these faculties may operate in very distinct ways so take time to pray and ask God beforehand, ‘What does it look like to abide with you here in this space?’ As much as I hate it, we naturally won’t be thinking about how to stay rooted in God in every single space we operate in the daily ongoings of our lives, so it is crucial to pause and pray, meditating on the Word and seeking God’s wisdom for any and every door we walk through. What are some of these spaces for you and what would it look like for you to stay planted by the Living Water here?
I’m a pretty free-spirited individual, but despite that, I am still continually seeing how important order is. Whether it’s baking a cake or driving to the grocery store, the sequence in which we do things matters, and in some circumstance it matters a WHOLE lot. In Psalms 8 we see a perfect example of this in the way David acknowledges God’s holiness first (1-2), then reflects on how mesmerizing and mysterious God’s love for us is (3-4). It’s after all of this that he celebrates his own role ascribed to him by God (5-8) and finally closes with more praise to God (9).
In Psalms 92 David later declares, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night” David proclaims praise in the beginning and end of His petitions and prayers to God, making it the ultimate lens through which he chooses to see God and what He is doing through His creation and in David’s own life. When we are praying, reflecting on God’s word, or trying to make sense of our circumstances through God’s perspective, do we make praise or our pride the priority? Do we demand answers, dig for rationale instead of seek out wisdom, or desperately pick out what we think we need from God instead of communing with Him? Much like David did here, we too should be challenged to prioritize praising God over any other task on our religious list that we all keep in our minds.
When we look at Genesis 1:27-31 we see God ascribing value to His people, so to echo our devotions, if God has created us in His image, how does that change the way we treat each other and ourselves? Most of the time we look for the roles or purpose God has assigned us first, but in this order we place the focus on us instead of God, often becoming full of pride and selfishness, but when we praise God first then see where He has placed us, we are more inclined to have humility and a heart to not only see where God wants us, but more importantly, how He desires for us to serve others.
Finally...finally after all of the fleeing, hiding and praying, David is in a place of peace, rest and safety; this is the place where Psalms 148 overflows from. David once wrote in Psalms 69, "Let heaven and earth praise God, the seas and everything that moves in them", and later in Psalms 148 he expounds on this, painting a portrait of a beautiful choir of praise coming from every corner of the earth! David goes back to this theme in Psalms 150 when he sings out, "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!" Can we all take a moment to imagine this? Can we imagine an earth that echoes these Psalms; where each and every living and non-living creation is glorifying God?
Amidst the list of declarations of praises, David inserts a wise interruption to remind us of why this universal praise is so spectacular when he says, "Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created." Are we catching the simplicity of this holy calling? Whatever God commanded was created, and whatever was created must therefore pour out praise to its creator. God made the most beautiful beach you've seen, He raised up the tallest mountain you've ever set eyes on, and knew that quiet meadow or hidden trail would be your place of peace and stillness. He did it because He delights in His creation, and when His creation delights in Him, God is glorified.
Sometimes in our fallen nature we make a mess of the magnificent things God made, twisting opportunities to glorify God into mediums to lift up ourselves. John Piper says, "If created things are seen and handled as gifts of God and as mirrors of His glory, they need not be occasions of idolatry – if our delight in them is always also a delight in their Maker." Hear this loud and clear: God desires for us to enjoy what He has made, but be it a forest or a man, without looking at creation through the eyes of God Himself, we will wind up abusing that which He made for His glory. The only way to rightly engage with creation is to first look at creation through the lens of scripture and How God intended for it to be enjoyed. Just like we see beginning in verse nine of Psalms 148, God ascribes different roles to His creation, highlighting the mysterious yet mesmerizing reality of how unique each and every creation truly is. More than the daisy is unique from the river, are we from one another, and it's in our uniqueness that we possess such marvelous opportunities to praise God in countless ways! What are some of the ways God has made you unique, and in what ways does that offer you a special ability to bring Him glory?