Life can be a battle, can’t it? No one is exempt from seasons of battle. No matter how much or little faith you have, everyone faces disappointments and challenges. These can cause you to wonder if this is what it looks like to be blessed. We may have disarray in our families or be treated unfairly in our jobs. You may be misjudged by others or let down by the people you trusted most. In all of this, one thing I believe we all can agree on is that we live in a very unstable world.
Is there a place to turn for stability, where you can look toward your future with hope? Perhaps you are asking this question, looking to be comforted in your battles and unstable times. Perhaps you see the fragility of your situation and the world around you, and you are looking for a place of refuge in which to find hope, peace, and happiness.
I am certain that you will find such hope, peace, and happiness – if you look for them in God. And not just that, I also believe that God wants to bless and prosper you.
Are you looking for stability? For blessings and prosperity? If so, this message is for you this morning. I know it is for me.
The Scripture for today is Psalms 1:1-3:
Blessed are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the [Word] of the Lord, and on his Word they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
Every time I read Psalm 1, I am reminded that it is possible to live a blessed and happy life in spite of the troubles I face in this life.
The image used in this text to speak about this blessedness is: “they are like a tree planted by a stream of water, which yield their fruit in season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.”
This is the kind of life that I want for me and my children: fruitful and prosperous.
Now, it is important to know that this sort of blessedness or happiness is not contingent upon our circumstances. It can’t be manufactured or purchased, and it does not happen overnight. Instead, the Scripture states simply and clearly, “blessed are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, they meditate day and night.”
According to this text, to be blessed is not about getting everything we want but to be rightly related to God so that our lives are fulfilled, and we experience deep personal satisfaction.
Interestingly, this blessedness begins with the negative, not the positive.
Blessedness, the Psalmist says, results from not following the advice of the wicked, from not taking the path that sinners take, and from not sitting in the seat of scoffers. By all measures, these are those who afflict the vulnerable, accuse the innocent, undermine the trust of the faithful, don’t listen for God, and threaten the good of the community. In other words, as there are ways of living, attitudes, and behaviors that tend towards wellness, kindness, compassion, and righteousness, there are also others that tend toward oppression, injustice, abuse, and wickedness. The latter are the ones we are being warned against.
What this means is that blessings come not only from what we do but also from what we don’t do. Blessed people avoid certain behaviors, situations, and unhealthy relationships. To be blessed is not only about having more of the “good” but also having less of the “bad” or “unhealthy” in our lives.
When we pray for blessings, it ought to sound something like this: “God, remove anything that stands between you and me, and then do as you please with my life. Give me the wisdom to do what is right, and wisdom to stop doing what is wrong.”
As we can see, blessings come to us as a side benefit of the choices we make as we follow the counsel of God. Thus, it says, “delight in the word of God,” which implies that we know the word and do the word, and “you will be prospered.” This promise of blessedness comes from building our lives on the Word of God, from delighting in its teachings and wisdom.
This is an interesting word – “delight.” What does it mean to “delight” in the Word of God? Think about it this way: to delight is to be so excited about something that you just can’t wait for it.
For example, watch a young couple in love and you will know what “delight” means. Or take a young man who has fallen in love for the first time. Ask his friends, and they’ll say, “he is not the same guy he used to be.” They mean he has radically changed. He doesn’t want to hang around with them anymore. All he does is talk about “that girl.” “Just look at him. He’s got this goofy grin on his face.” He’s in love.
Now, apply that same principle to the Word of God. We are to delight in God’s Word as a lover delights in a letter from his or her beloved. We are to delight with such a passion and expectation in God’s Word that every decision we make is faithful to our relationship with God, meaning that we don’t cheat God in the way we live. This is how God’s blessings come our way.
The last point I want to make is in relation to the image of, “trees planted by streams of waters which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.”
The Psalmist says that a person who builds his or her life on the Word of God is like a tree planted by streams of water, which basically means that their lives are deeply rooted and healthy. Their lives are nourished, marked by lasting stability and fruitfulness.
This is an amazing statement. It basically says that when we live our lives faithfully committed to God, we will never lack vitality and fruit.
Furthermore, look at the image of a tree that never withers. It means that even in the toughest seasons (the winters in life), even when there seems to be no evidence of fruit, the tree is fully alive and growing. The roots are so strong and well-fed, that, at the right time, it will produce the fruit of the season.
Here is the key: for a tree to produce fruit, it requires time and processes. So it is in our lives too. It takes time for us to learn, experience, reflect, and even believe everything that God wants to give us and do in us and for us. Even in the toughest times, we are not withered; we are regenerating, growing, renewing, and getting ready for the next fruit-producing season.
For us, this means that with every season that comes and goes, if we are rooted in the Word of God, we will grow, mature, and be blessed. If we need love, from the Word of God will come the strength to produce the fruit of love. If we need a forgiving spirit, from the Word of God will come the strength to forgive. If we need courage, we will produce the fruit of courage. If we need patience and perseverance, the Word of God will produce it in us.
This is the kind of prosperity Psalms 1 refers to when the Psalmist says, “In all that they do, they prosper.”
They prosper in the sense that no matter what season they may find themselves in, as long as their roots keep feeding on the source of life (the Word of God), they will have strength for the day. They will have hope in the midst of the hardest seasons and difficulties—even in the most unstable and shaking times.
This thought is similar to what Paul explains in Romans 8:37-39 when he says,
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In this world, we may face sorrow, abandonment, failure, disappointment, sickness, rejection, and discouragement.
Even then, we are not defeated.
But we will be prospered because we have kept the Word in our hearts. And when the time comes, we will flourish and overcome, and our fruit will burst out, for it has been said that, “the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)
The happiest, the blessed people in the world are those whose lives are built on the Word of God.
What are you living for? Who are you living for? Where are you planted?