The person is like a tree planted by streams of water. —Psalm 1:3
First notice that the person is planted and not just growing. This implies intentionality. God gave us his word intentionally that we may be placed in it.
Secondly what do plants need to grow that is hard to come by in Israel? The sun is always shining so that wasn’t a concern, but finding good soil and a steady water source is harder. So God is intentional, not just in the act of planting, but also where he plants you. God is intentional in giving you his word. Just as that stream will provide life to the tree in good times and in the times of drought and hardship, so too will the word of God sustain us.
So why are you planted by a river?
Israel has long hot summers that can be dry, but it can also have heavy rains in the winter. And heavy rains can bring with it flooding. Who knew in the ancient world that Egypt was known as the “bread basket of the world?” It was known as this because the lands around the River Nile were and still are some of the most fertile in the world. This is due to the flooding in rainy season bringing nutrients out of the soil at the bottom of the river and dispersing them into the surrounding soil.
As a tree planted next to the water, notice that the text says its leaves do not wither. In other words, the law of God will sustain you perennially (evergreen). The text also says that you bear fruit in season. The plant is healthy and it shows forth, but it also has a practical purpose for others. I live in the Netherlands, the land where everybody loves plants and flowers, but apart from looking pretty on my table what do they do? This tree, this plant, has a purpose and it is to bear fruit. In other words, it will show just what kind of plant it is.
And finally, the image brings forth the idea of continual growth. In ancient times they weren’t buying mini trees from somewhere and sticking them in the ground. You had to plant that tree and nurture it. When we are planted in God’s Word there should be growth from us as people. An immature plant does not flower, and if it cannot flower, it cannot bear fruit.
So why meditate on God’s Word?
If God’s law, his Word, is the soil and the water, the nutrients that are needed to sustain us, and we are the tree, then meditation on God’s Word is the root that allows us to tap into those nutrients and draw out of it what we need.
Jeremy Storm is a father, student of theology, antagonist, and staunch advocate for equality of both race and gender.
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