Psalm 1 - Like trees

1) Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2) but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.
3) They are like trees planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

4) The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5) Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6) for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalm 1 (NRSV)
6th Sunday after Epiphany, Year C
7th Sunday of Easter, Year B
Proper 18, year C, Sunday between September 4 and September 10
Proper 20, Year B, Sunday between September 18 and September 24
Proper 25, Year A, Sunday between October 23 and October 29

Within the canon of scripture, the Book of Psalms is considered Wisdom literature - non-narrative writings which emphasize that obedience to God's law and will is the right path. It is in this spirit that praise of Wisdom opens this book: "Happy are those who delight in the law of the Lord."

It presents a straightforward and simple view of life. The wise follow the Lord and prosper; the wicked stray from that path and perish.

We might wonder that this does not always line up with the reality in front of us. Other psalms affirm the fact that our reality does not meet this ideal.

But the psalm is not an all-inclusive statement about the world. It is encouragement to righteousness, and discouragement to wickedness. Happy are those who don't practice gossip and tearing down and accusation (sitting in the seat of the scoffers). Happy are those who are not distracted by bad advice, who don't follow the sinners' path off the cliff.

And there is a way forward. Happy are those whose delight is in the torah, the law, the teaching, the way of the Lord. Happy are those who constantly meditate, who study, who pray, who proclaim, who follow, who internalize the instruction of the Lord.

You are like trees... I love trees. They are a blessing to the land and to the globe. They feed us, they shelter us, and as they breathe oxygen out, they enable our lives. A tree planted by the water is a tree which is nourished, which can flourish, and which blesses the world. Let God's word water your life, let yourself be rooted in it, and be like a tree, planted by clean, living water.

Simon, Laos Tree Water, (CC0 1.0)


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