Sabbath Slow-Down: a Psalm reflection for Sunday, June 22 (’14): The Results of a Blessed Man
Read Psalm 1
This psalm is arranged in three parts: The faith of a blessed man (1-2), the results for that blessed man (3-4), and the redemption of this blessed man (5-6). For this Sabbath, the results of a blessed man.
Key verses today, 3-4:
“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. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”
In verses 1-2 we see what Ralph Davis has called the direction of the blessed man. We see his faith to trust and run towards Yahweh (“LORD”) no matter the pressure to cave pressing against him. He:
—does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.
—does not stand in the way of sinners.
—does not sit in the seat of scoffers.
Whereas the wicked give bad counsel and revel in their wickedness, the blessed man sets his entire life towards knowing his covenant Lord, Yahweh, whether through his law, instruction, or teaching. He is willing, and delights, to resist the progression of evil surrounding him that others willingly embrace. This is a stark contrast. Today’s question: what are the results of such faith and commitment?
Davis paints the picture well and shows there are five results:
—stability (“he is planted”)
—vitality (“by streams of water”)
—productivity (“yields its fruit”)
—durability (“does not wither”)
—prosperity (“in all he does, he prospers”)
How often do God’s people struggle in every area of life? We are not promised in this psalm that there would be immediate relief (in fact, the biblical testimony seems the opposite). Instead, we are shown results that give a promise of a life not wasted. In his book The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life: Psalms 1-12, Davis tells a story of Horace Greeley, a man famous in his day. An American Presidential candidate and successful according to the World’s ideas, Horace confessed in his last years that his life was wasted. Though a philanthropist who believed in basic human goodness, Horace wrote,
“I stand naked before my God, the most utterly, hopelessly wretched and undone of all who ever lived. I have done more harm and wrong than any man who ever saw the light of day. And yet I take God to witness that I have never intended to injure or harm anyone. But this is no excuse.”
As fathers and mothers, we should take this message to our children: no life of goodness is good enough to get you through the other side without faith, and no troubles and struggles in this life can knock you off the train-rails of faith if you love the Lord.
Contrary to prosperity preachers (whether men or women), this psalm is not promising a result for the blessed man that keeps him from bodily harm or financial ruin. We cannot, after all, prevent a worldwide economic collapse that, in the last hundred years, has come every generation in varying degrees. But this psalm gives a promise for all God’s people who have the faith of verses 1-2:
You will be held securely by God and will never be lost by him. You will be fruitful, you will be stable, you will, ultimately, see his face in victory…when your faith keeps you drinking from the life-giving water of his Word.
Verses 3-4 go to great pains to stress that loving Yahweh and his word(s) leads to truly great results especially because you know the point of the game of life is not money, health, and fame. It is, instead, knowing the Lord.
In contrast, the result of the wicked man gets only a brief comment: The wicked are like chaff that the wind blows away. As Davis remarks of Horace Greeley, “Perhaps the only thing worse than being chaff is to know you have been chaff.” The amount of space given to the results of the blessed man in this psalm confirms what the Lord wants us to remember: unlike the wicked, I will remember you and be near to you. You will not end up like them: they will come and go, and I will not remember them.
Fathers and mothers, which are you? Little sons and daughters, which are you? Do you love the Lord and trust in him? If so, no bullies, no liars, no gossips, and no worldly despair could ever snatch you from your loving God.
Suggested Family Prayer:
“Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name, pull us ever closer to you, especially as we dedicate our family time to knowing your word, the Bible. Help us fight the temptation to spend our free time with TV, and let us spend it with each other and you. We know you have promised to keep us close to you when we live like this. Amen.”
Next Friday, part 3: the redemption of a blessed man.