According to Psalm 1, there are two ways to live: the way of the righteous, and the way of the wicked.
The way you live, or the path you walk, is determined by what you delight in, or value most.
The righteous are truly happy, or blessed, because they choose to delight in God’s Word, to meditate on God’s Word to know who God is and what pleases Him, and to value God’s counsel more than the opinions of others.
The wicked, however, seek only to please themselves, to follow their own counsel, and to value their own gain more than pleasing God.
One way leads to blessing and protection, the other to meaninglessness and destruction.
The Psalmist uses illustrations from nature to contrast these two ways of life.
[The righteous are] like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Jeremiah also uses the image of a tree to describe the blessing of those who trust in the LORD.
But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sent out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
The righteous are like trees. A tree is rooted, secure. A tree is a blessing to others, providing food, shelter, and protective shade.
The wicked are like chaff. Chaff, the part of grain that is discarded after the threshing process harvests the seed, is aimless, carried away by the slightest breeze. Chaff has little value.
But the meaning of “righteous” and “wicked” goes beyond simply “good” or “bad”.
Bruce Waltke, a Hebrew scholar, adds perspective by helping us understand what it means to be “righteous” and “wicked.” Righteous people, Waltke says, deprive themselves for the sake of the community. Wicked people see their resources as belonging to them, and to them alone. Righteous people see that much of what they have belongs to the community; the wicked say no, it’s all mine. Read through the Bible with those definitions, and suddenly you’re reading a different book.
(quote from a transcript of Timothy Keller’s sermon, “Justice” 2005)
The way of the wicked, then, is not just ignoring God’s Word and living by man’s wisdom. The wicked prize individuality, hoard their resources, and ignore the needs of those around them.
In contrast, the way of the righteous is to live out God’s Word, to value and serve our community, and to share our God-given resources with others. When our security is in God, when we trust Him like trees planted by and relying on streams of water, we can share what we have been given without fear. My friend Donna says it this way: Whatever God gives us is never just for us. It is meant to be shared.
What have you been given? Special skills, spiritual insight, wisdom, financial provision?
Choose the way of the righteous. Meditate on God’s Word, trust Him, and share what you have been given with others.
Father, thank you for your written Word. I want to walk in the way of the righteous. I want to value and take delight in studying your Word to know who you are and how I can please you. As I meditate on your Word, let me be like a tree, sending down roots to attach myself to you, trusting you more and more. Thank you for your provision. Show me how to share what you give me with others. Amen.