Psalm 1 (NRSV)
Verse 1Happy 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;
Verse 2but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.
Verse 3They 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.
Verse 4The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Verse 5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
Verse 6for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Centuries before the time of Jesus and Peter, an inspired poet authored this beautiful psalm. Like Peter who was to follow, this poet is also speaking to believers. He defines the believers as those who are “happy.” Happy are they who delight in the law of the LORD. Happy are they who are not mislead by the advice of the wicked. Or, as it will be phrased in Psalm 144, “Happy are the people whose God is the LORD.” When the poet describes the happy one it is not as the recipient of gifts at a party; rather, the happy one is like a tree, planted in the rich soil of a river valley, growing leaves that do not whither and bearing fruit. This image makes me smile with new insights about being God’s child. I have never thought of myself as a tree—happy or otherwise—but somehow describing a believer as a living being who is nourished, thrives, and bears good fruit works for life for me.
God of grace, grant us the simpleness of faith to understand ourselves as recipients of life and nourishment, and to understand you as the one who gives to us, and who expects us to bear fruit in response. Amen.