If you have ever had the pleasure of traveling to the Holy Land, then you would know first-hand that it is filled with miles and miles of sand. Sand in abundance. Much of the land is filled with nothing but rock and sand. Barren land. Dry land. Little to no signs of life. In sharp contrast, there are a few rivers that flow throughout the land. Along these rivers are living, lush, vibrant trees, vegetation, and wildlife.
The difference in these two realities could not be more stark. There is the land of the living and the land of the dead. The wilderness and the metropolis.
In Psalm 1, God tells us plainly that we will be blessed if we do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers, but instead delight ourselves in the law of the LORD and meditate on His law day and night (see Psalm 1:1-2). Here in the third verse, the Psalmist gives us even more insight as to what that blessing from the LORD will look like in the lives of those who follow this teaching.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.Psalm 1:3, ESV
The one who says, “NO” to wickedness, sinning, and mocking, but, “YES” to delighting in and meditating on the law of the LORD will be like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in its season. Instead of spiritual death, this person will experience spiritual life. Instead of feeling lost and alone in the wilderness, this person will feel purposeful and loved in the land of the living. His leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
There are at least two interesting, natural realities concerning trees that are worth considering. First, consider the fact that the most healthy aspect of the tree is unseen by natural eyes. While we tend to see the tree and its fruit, the tree’s root system is by far the most important contributor to its ongoing health. The same is true for us! While others may see our outward appearance, it is our ongoing abiding in Christ that truly defines who or what we will become. The one who does not abide in Christ is like the tree with a small root system. They may yield fruit for a season, but when the heavy rain and winds of life come, the tree will not be able to stand.
If we want to experience our unique blessing from God, it will be found as we abide in Christ. He is the living water! The Psalmist is calling us to plant ourselves next to Christ, and to allow our spiritual roots to grow ever deeper and stronger in Him. As we do this, we will bear fruit season after season. Our leaves will not wither. In all that we do, we will prosper.
The second reality worth considering is the fruit of the tree. Trees are not known for producing fruit for themselves. Trees do not eat or enjoy the fruit, themselves. The fruit is meant to be shared with others.
The tree receives its sustenance from the stream of water and the sunlight. When positioned well to receive from both, it will naturally produce fruit, because that is what it was created to do. The same is true for us! For those of us who have put our faith in Christ, we know that it is by grace we have been saved through faith. And this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (see Ephesians 2:8-9). We can’t take credit for what God has done in our lives. It was His doing! We simply praise Him for it! We were not saved BY good works, but we were saved FOR good works.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.– Ephesians 2:10, ESV
Like the tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, we are invited to abide in Christ and to bear fruit for the benefit of others. We are invited to thrive in the land of the living rather than wither away in the barren wasteland of life. We are invited to truly, spiritually prosper in all that we do.
It is quite the invitation! Why would anyone possibly choose to turn it down?