Worship affects life. That’s the premise of Psalm 1, a psalm which sets the stage for the rest of the book. This book of praise, lament, intercession, and exhortation starts with an examination of two lifestyles: the blessed and the wicked.
The psalmist gives us three images of what we should avoid: blessed is the man who does not walk in the way of the wicked (that is, actively pursue evil), blessed is the man who does not stand in the way of sinners (that is, associate sympathetically with people doing evil), blessed is the man who does not sit in the seat of scoffers (that is, sit back and mock those who are trying to do good).
Most honest humans have found themselves in one of those categories at various points in our lives. Sometimes we’re the active sinners; sometimes we’re the sophisticated cynics who sit back and allow others to do our sinning for us.
Psalms 1 offers us an alternative: a blessed one is like a tree planted by streams of water (that is, it doesn’t fluctuate with changing seasons), which yields its fruit in season (that is, its maturity enables it to feed others), whose leaf does not wither (that is, it doesn’t burn out).
Dropping the simile, the psalmist gives us one final description of this blessed man: everything he does prospers. (That is, he does good, brings blessing, and lives life as God intended.)
How is this blessed life to be achieved?
“Blessed is the one whose delight is the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”
This is the summary and goal of the psalms: that the people of God might be changed by prayerful meditation on the word of God. That the people of God would become blessed ones, drinking from the word and presence of God as constantly as a tree planted by streams of water. That in so drinking, they might mature enough to bless the world around them.
Far from active evildoers or passive cynics, the people of God should become fruit-bearers: those whose lives bless and feed others.
May we be drawn back, day after day, to the life-giving streams of grace that flow through the scriptures.
Rev. Meredith Mills is Senior Pastor of Westminster United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. If you are ever in the area, Meredith and her congregation would love to have you come worship with them.
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