Sage Brush or Oak Tree?

Psalm 1 reveals a stark contrast between the righteous and the wicked.  It’s a deep, thought provoking and yet simple Psalm that heralds a warning about who and what we allow to speak into our lives. It contains only 6 verses, but they pack a punch and provide a much-needed wake-up call about using discretion in what and who we allow to influence us. Look at it:

1 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;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 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.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Do you notice the progression of walk, stand and sit? I don’t think it’s a small thing. It demonstrates the slippery slope of deception that we can begin to go down when we surround ourselves with the wrong kind of people, ideas, philosophies and world views so prevalent in our world today.  I don’t mean to suggest that we should isolate or cloister ourselves from those in the “outside” world or not associate with unbelievers. Not at all.  The apostle Paul makes that clear in I Corinthians 5. What I’m referring to is the subtle and sometimes not so subtle influences that we allow into our lives that end up shaping the way we think (Romans 12:2), believe and eventually behave.

The blessed or happy person does something regularly and with intentionality that leads to a different kind of life, one that bears good fruit.  Do you see it? It’s in verse two, where it talks about what he allows to bring him great delight.  It’s the Word of God and he meditates on it day and night or continually. The Word of God is the source of the righteous person’s delight and wisdom, which in turn leads to right thinking, right believing and living life wisely and with discernment. Verses 4-6 unveil the results of going down a different path, listening to a completely different set of voices and it’s tragic.

Proverbs 4:23 cautions us to “guard our hearts, for everything you do flows from it”.  We need to rely on the abiding presence and power of the Holy Spirt and practice greater discretion in guarding our hearts.  The devil prowls around like a lion seeking whom he might devour (I Peter 5:8), which is why Peter urges us to be sober minded and alert.  What is it that delights you? What brings you the greatest joy? Where is your mind and heart centered most frequently? For the Psalmist, the Word of God was the source of his delight. Why? Because it led him to understand who God is and revealed so much of what God has done in this world. This led to a very different understanding of the world and a very different way of interacting and living in it.  As the Psalmist thought long and hard on the truths of Scripture it transformed and shaped him, first internally and then externally and rather than be like the wicked who were tossed around like sage brush, he was like an oak tree firmly planted by streams of water which yielded good and pleasant fruit.

Want to be more like an oak tree than like sage brush? Mediate, think about, read, memorize and be a doer of the Word by the power of God’s Spirit within you.  Submit yourself to the Scriptures. Force yourself to listen to the Word and allow it to be the primary voice in your life.  As you do things will change. First, in the way you think, then believe and eventually the way you live your life. Your relationship with Christ will go deeper and the gospel will become even more precious.