1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
So – some nice promises here . . . blessed . . . like a fruitful tree . . . prospering . . . Sounds pretty good!
Well, I guess I don’t spend a lot of time wishing I was like a tree planted by streams of water – it sounds lovely and poetic – but also boring and limiting. BUT I do like the ideas of being blessed and prosperous!
Picturing what blessed and prosperous would look like, I begin to imagine a life of comfort and ease.
But somehow God doesn’t view things the way His creation sees them.
Realistically, I don’t see any evidence this passage promises material wealth, earthly health, or any temporary trinket. It promises that what we DO will prosper – or be fruitful. Many times we do not even see the fruits of our labors. We may, from time to time, be aware of how our lives are impacting others, but I suspect much of our “prosperity” will remain unknown to us in this life.
And then, I guess there are some requirements to receive this fruitfulness:
- does not walk in step with the wicked
- does not stand in the way that sinners take
- does not sit in the company of mockers
- delights in the law of the Lord
- meditates on his law day and night
At first glance I feel pretty good about the way I stack up here. I don’t have any wicked, sinful, or mocking friends. I do enjoy reading God’s word – although I wouldn’t get much done if I was meditating day and night! That must be a bit of hyperbole.
But reading the list more carefully, it seems to contain recommendations on how I spend my time. I am challenged to consider my daily options in light of these constraints.
Honestly, I spend most of my time simply maintaining our household and shepherding children.
But, not just accepting the easy answer, I begin to consider my music and entertainment choices. Television, movies, Netflix, and all of Social Media need to be held up to the yardstick of Psalm 1.
Viewing the list upside down shows a progression from positive behavior to passively negative to actively negative. So, I will look at it in reverse order.
Do I really delight in the law of the Lord?
While I DO enjoy my Bible reading time, I’m not sure it always scores in the “delight” category. Over the years, as I have learned my need for these words of life, my enjoyment has definitely grown – but I could use some fresh encouragement to dust off the eyes of my heart and see how delightful the law of the Lord really is.
And is it really hyperbole to meditate day and night?
I guess it depends on your definition of meditate. We tend to think of sitting in silence, eyes closed, repeating something over and over. . . which is meditating, of course, but meditation also includes thinking deeply about something . . . namely the delightful law of the Lord.
We can definitely think deeply about and reflect on a passage of scripture throughout the day and as we drift to sleep at night. This would become the backdrop of our mind’s activity. We do this all the time when we worry about something or when we make life decisions or are involved in a dispute . . . we just need to make a conscious effort to switch over that background noise.
What would it look like to sit in the company of mockers?
This question immediately makes me think of social media. In this venue, mocking is often the first line of attack on any value, idea, or person. Sometimes I feel the value, idea, or person deserves attack, but I need to be careful about giving approval of or engaging in mockery. Encountering absurd beliefs makes it difficult to resist, but I don’t want to lend credibility to the practice of mockery. Jesus never mocked, and he met some pretty ridiculous characters!
What about standing in the way sinners take?
This is more active than sitting with (observing?) mockers. I guess standing with sinners in today’s world would mean liking and sharing their posts! I am only partly joking. If we are not wary of mockers, we may begin to feel comfortable with sinful values, ideas, and people. We move from just observing to standing with them or identifying with them.
Finally, what would it look like to walk in step with the wicked?
That seems pretty active – taking action to go along with a wicked person, or getting directly involved in some wickedness. I think this is the next logical step in the progression; approving of mockery -> sympathizing and/or identifying with ungodly values -> engaging in and/or approving of wrong behavior.
Of course these conditions for blessing and prosperity were given to humans millennia before the internet existed, so obviously social media is not the only pitfall for our life. I do think it has provided a streamlined process. . . not bad in and of itself, but these verses challenge me to be aware and on guard. And they also tell me how to be on guard – by meditating on the law of the Lord day and night.
While I don’t think I am walking (or ever would walk) in step with the wicked, I am encouraged to be more intentional about focusing my mind on the word of God and more careful about the entertainment I allow into my life and thoughts.