(1) Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
(2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
(3) He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
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We can take five insights from this short passage:
This tree, representing an individual among God's people, is planted. It does not spring from a seed dropped by a bird or blown by the wind. Its planting implies purpose. Who would do that? God, of course. John 6:44teaches that we do not come to God of our own accord; in fact, “no one can come to [Christ] unless the Father . . . draws him” (emphasis ours). He calls each person and directs his or her life, planting each where He desires.
He plants each tree by rivers of water, which nourishes and sustains it. Water, of course, is a common symbol of God's Holy Spirit throughout Scripture. So, if God in His wisdom plants us in the right spot and gives us plenty of water, we can guess what will likely happen next.
Unlike the fig tree in Jesus' parable that failed to produce fruit and is cut down and thrown in the fire (see Luke 13:6-9; John 15:6), this divinely planted and nourished tree bears fruit in its season. It produces the good works God planted it to produce (see John 15:8; Ephesians 2:10).
Like the Tree of Life in Revelation 22:2, the leaves on this tree do not wither. The process God puts His “trees” through produces, not withering and death, which is the “natural” course of things, but growth, productivity, and life.
The psalmist proclaims that this person who is like a tree will prosper in whatever he does. The gist of the psalm does not imply material prosperity—land, houses, cars, jewelry, cash—but spiritual, long-term success. Ultimately, he means righteousness, rulership, and eternal life in the Kingdom of God (Revelation 19:7-8; 20:6)!
Notice that the psalmist writes that the blessed person “shall be like a tree.” Why is that? Is it possible that, if we adopt specific attributes of a tree, we, like the blessed man, can avoid sin, delight in the law, and prosper eternally? We need to pursue this line of thought.
Trees get 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere and only 10% from the soil. Humans receive physical nutrition from the soil, through the food it produces, but we get our spiritual nourishment from God through His Holy Spirit—through the “air” or on the “wind,” as it were. If we wish to think of the Holy Spirit like water, we can imagine the tree receiving nutrition when falling rain thoroughly soaks its leaves.
We can think of this in another way: Jesus is the vine or the trunk, and we are the branches that grow off it (John 15:1, 5). He puts us where He wants us on the tree, and we should be content there to do what He wants us to do. As the Head of the church, He feeds us to prepare us to produce the fruit He desires (see John 6:45; Ephesians 4:7-24).
Most people do not realize that trees can induce rainfall by cooling the land and transpiring water into the sky through their leaves. A large tree, through transpiration, can lift a hundred gallons of water a day and discharge it into the air through evaporation. An acre of maple trees can put as much as 20,000 gallons of water into the atmosphere each day! When God's children help Jesus Christ make the deserts bloom in the Millennium (Isaiah 35:1-2, 6-7), they will surely be planting a great many trees.
In this arboreal image, we can understand that the Holy Spirit flows both into and out of us. As we use the Holy Spirit in proper words and good works, God gives us more. When we pray, encourage others, share the truth, do acts of kindness, and the like, we are “transpiring” like a tree!
We, as Christians, spend our converted lives absorbing hit after hit, trial after trial, and if we do it right, we grow and overcome. Like a tree, we sequester or store away the lessons of life's difficulties. We cannot afford to let them pull us down or stop us. While taking in these vital life-lessons, we respond by demonstrating an excellent example for those around us to see, remember, and we hope, follow.
— Mike Ford
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