How would you like your life to be characterized by the following descriptors: 1) Rooted deeply in the Lord, 2) Bearing spiritual fruit, 3) Resilient during suffering, 4) Prospering in your God-given mission?
During this past year, I have been trying to memorize more psalms—and boning up on psalms I already know or kinda’ know. One of those “boning up” psalms was Psalm 1, among the best-known psalms in the Psalter. The four characteristics I have just mentioned—rooted-ness, fruit-bearing, resiliency, and prospering in one’s God-appointed work—are all suggested in verse 3 of that famous psalm.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither
And in whatever he does, he prospers
I deeply long for these four attributes to be characteristic of my life. Don’t you? But this begs the question: How do we get them? How do we move away from shallow roots, little or no fruit-bearing, easy-withering, and ineffectiveness in mission? What is the path toward rooted-ness, fruit-bearing, resiliency, and ministry-prospering?
The answer is found in verse 2—stated clearly and directly:
But his delight is in the law of the Lord
And in his law he meditates day and night
This passage is so well-known that I’m fearful lest we might miss the strong causative relationship between verses 2 and 3. The difference between someone who is rooted, bearing fruit, resilient, and prospering versus someone who is not has everything to do with whether an individual: 1) delights in the law of the Lord, and 2) meditates on the Word of God day and night.
The same two issues—delighting in the law of the Lord, and meditating on it—are included in the outburst of praise in Psalm 119:97:
O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day
But this begs another question: How does one grow to love the law (often shorthand in the Psalms for all of God’s Word)? Is there a process by which we can learn to delight in the Word of God?
Yes, indeed. One key way to grow in love of and delight in the Word of God occurs when we respond to what we read, and subsequently observe the results of that impact in our lives (results like rootedness, fruit-bearing, resiliency, and ministry-prospering!). When we encounter God’s Word and respond to it by obeying the instructions therein, we experience the blessings that come from obedience. As a result, we begin to love God’s Word more. Or, say, as we focus on a character-quality of God discovered—once again, while reading God’s Word—we begin to notice that we are being sustained by focusing upon God’s character rather than upon whatever suffering we are currently facing. As a result, we increasingly love God’s Word and want to keep reading it. That’s one way to grow in our love of and delight in God’s Word.
What about meditation? How do we meditate day and night?
Meditation in the Bible often or always presupposes memorization, which means that we have to have some of the Word of God in our minds to think about as we transition from activity to activity, or when we can’t sleep at night. We can also listen to pre-recorded sections of the Bible, or pick up a written text during the day. But the “day and night” modifier might also suggest that we should put concentrated time into the Word of God in the morning and evening (not as a rule, but as pattern, recognizing that different people have varying work and life schedules). But if we’ll allow the truths of God’s Word to intersect with our lives throughout the day, we will increasingly grow into the tree of Psalm 1, drawing life-giving water into our roots, producing fruit in the proper season, sporting healthy leaves that are unlikely to wither, and prospering in our God-given work.
I have seen this again and again in my life. When I allot time and space to the Word of God, I observe accruing help in living the life to which God has called me. And, yes, when I am in the Word of God, I find that I am more deeply rooted, that I am bearing seasonal fruit, less likely to wither under trial, and prospering in the tasks God has given me.