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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Parnell

To Be Like a Tree: This Is Written For Us (Psalm 1:3-4)

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. —Psalm 1:3-4

The Messiah Jesus perfectly epitomizes the blessed man of Psalm 1 (cf. Psalm 21:6). He is the true King who delights in the Word and is set apart from all wickedness.

While this psalm is not primarily about us, we should remember that it was written for us. Jesus’ fulfillment of this blessed man doesn’t force us to hold these words at arm’s length. Instead, we embrace them. Because we are found in Christ, this picture of meditating on the word and all its benefits are presented as a gift to us—a gift for which we don’t deserve. And power to receive the gift of which we can’t generate.

Psalm 1:3-4 describes the Messiah and the one who in the Messiah delights in the Word as he does. The imagery is vivid—a tree residing by its life source, producing good for those around it, never stale or rusty. In fact, this man prosper-izes in all he does. The wicked are so different. They’re not planted, nor secure. They’re more like straw that is dominated by any gust of wind.

This imagery is used all throughout the Book of Psalms, thematic of the one who trusts in the LORD (Psalm 15:5; 17:5; 26:4-5, 12; 35:5; 65:4; 73:18-19; 75:10; 112:1, 7-8; 119:1). In Psalm 52:8 David declares himself to be “like a green olive tree,” in contrast with those who don’t take refuge in God. Psalm 92 echoes Psalm 1 in praise of God’s faithfulness:

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green (vv. 12-14).

As we read and pray through this Book, the content of Psalm 1 doesn’t come off as a mechanical exercise we do in search of its payoff. The words of the Psalmist fill our hearts, the peace of abiding in Christ prevails, and we read Psalm 1 saying, “of course.”


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