Continuing our discussion of Psalm 1 we are asked, what is the blessed man, the righteous man like?
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.
(Psalm 1:3-4 ESV)
The Righteous Tree
Various types of trees are mentioned in the bible: oaks, palms, cedars, figs, palms, olives. Trees, as compared to grass, are long lasting. Trees to me symbolize patience. A tree has a penultimate goal: to grow; it does this with patience and endurance, weathering many storms and droughts. Its roots are firmly laid in the ground to provide it the stability it needs to weather such storms and these roots hold water to weather the droughts. It is firmly planted. And so is the blessed man, the righteous man. He is firmly founded in the Word, in his righteousness (in Christ) and will grow in Christ over time so long as he continues to look to Christ as the trees look to the sun for their nourishment.
This tree that the Lord has planted in his courts is blessed. It has been planted by streams of water and therefore is not dependent on the rains to the extent of other trees to sustain it (think of waiting on external blessings versus bringing out blessings from within by studying the Word). It has a consistent source (see Matthew Henry commentary for more on this). The leaves of this tree do not wither but are evergreen.
This tree also does not just produce for itself but takes what the Lord has provided it and gives to others, and so it “yields its fruit in its season.” Please note that this fruit is seasonal. There is an appointed time when what we have learned will come in to practice but it may not be immediate. We would do well to keep this in mind. There are some trees that do not bear fruit until a decade or more after their first planting. And yet the Lord is patient and knows the appointed time for these trees to bear their fruit (see David Guzik commentary for more).
The man who is under the protection and blessing of the Almighty will prosper just as the tree planted in the courts of the Lord will flourish. On the other hand, the wicked are like the chaff (a husk), they have no substance and will be gone with the wind (yes, pun intended)(see Spurgeon commentary for more).
The Coming Judgment for the Wicked
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous,
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
(Psalm 1:5-6 ESV).
We see there are consequences to making the wrong choice. There will be a judgment and the wicked will be found wanting (see Henry commentary). The separation of the wheat from the chaff in the threshing floor of the Lord is foreshadowed here. We see that the Lord “knows” the righteous. To know the Lord is to be in his remembrance and to live, to not be known by the Lord is to perish and to vanish.
I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.
(Psalm 37:35-36 ESV).
Lord Jesus Christ, in your name I pray that we be “known” by you and that we would know you as you would want to be known. May we keep ourselves from the unclean thing and be like trees planted in the courts of the Lord and forever under your protection and sustained by your light.
*ESV=English Standard Version