By Barry Peterson
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
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. (Psalm 1:1-3)
The first psalm is one of the most encouraging in all the Bible. It also contains one of the Bible’s most iconic images – a tree planted by streams of water. As I come to it each year, I’m reminded just how good our God is to plant us by streams of water, just how gracious he is to call us to himself.
I have a handwritten note inside my Study Bible from October 2011, just months after we came to URC. It’s from a sermon on Psalm 1. It simply says, “Blessed in Hebrew = Happy.” So, we can read this passage as, “Happy is the man…”, and who among us doesn’t want happiness? God has revealed that it all depends on what we delight in and where we are planting ourselves. Are we going to trust in what the world says will make us happy or in what God promises will ultimately bless us?
The Samaritan woman in John 4 was confronted with this same choice when she met Jesus, the Word made flesh, as she came to draw water at the well:
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:13-15)
During this pandemic, we have been given the gracious opportunity to reevaluate where we are planting ourselves. Here is some help for planting yourself daily in the Bible during this time. For a short daily devotional, continue following URC’s Connecting Points. For a great Bible reading plan, I recommend all or half of the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan accompanied by D. A. Carson’s corresponding devotional comments.
Many of the things we were using to fill our time, and perhaps even our hearts, aren’t available to us anymore. The Lord is inviting us to find happiness in meditating on his law, and delighting in Jesus, day and night. Only then will we truly be satisfied.