God’s blessing. Something we look for, pray for, wish for others. At times we hope for it, and at times we might even expect it. It is not uncommon for us to recognize God’s blessing once in a while after an extraordinary need has been met …an unexpected bonus, or deliverance from an illness … but our normal recognition of God’s blessing seems to be in regard to singular, temporary advantages. A thoughtful reading of Psalms 1 will help us to understand that this description of God’s blessing, while at least partially accurate, is definitely not complete. There is a difference between receiving a blessing and being a blessed man, and this chapter is dealing with more than simply receiving blessings. I believe this is a distinction worth noting, because “a man who is blessed” is a very different reality than “a man who gets blessed.” And wouldn’t we all agree that we would rather be a person who God inclusively describes as “blessed,” than a person who receives a blessing now and then?
The Psalmist attributes two descriptions to the blessed man: fruitfulness and endurance. Notice that these descriptions aren’t as much about what he has as who he is. His fruitfulness is described by comparing him to a tree growing on the bank of a river. Remembering that this description was initially given to a people living in an arid climate, this description suddenly takes on another degree of meaning. The picture is of a tree flourishing because of the continual presence of life-giving water. It is not dependent on the occasional blessing of a rain shower… its regular fruitfulness is assured because of its perpetual access to that one essential element. And this tree is doing more than surviving as a result … it is prospering!
But not only is the blessed man fruitful, he is also said to be enduring. His leaves don’t wither, he is not blown away, he is able to stand through judgment, he has a place in the people of God, and his way is known and approved of by the Lord. What a contrast to the alternatives of withering like a dying leaf, being blown away as worthless chaff, falling in judgment, having no place with God’s people, and ultimately perishing!
So now the question remains, “How can I become that blessed man?” I think it comes down to our answer to this question: “Where are you planted?” The ungodly (the non-blessed man) has chosen to plant himself alongside the world. He listens to their counsel, he participates in their way of life, and he joins himself to them. Now, before you are too hard on this man, remember that this is the popular way. Most people (even most Christians) will go along with this. They listen to the world’s counsel, they act like the world, and are concerned about fitting in with those around them … and many often do that quite well.
In contrast, blessed is the man who has planted himself alongside the river of the Word of God. This is what he delights in … it is his joy to learn and obey. He doesn’t just occasionally read it, he consistently meditates on it. He sees it as the most important aspect of his life, so much so that he finds himself thinking about it hour by hour. As he continues to draw nourishment from God’s Word, he finds himself needing the world’s counsel less and less. And as he loves and lives God’s Word, he finds himself producing fruit that he didn’t know was possible! Even when the world around him is screaming for his attention, he is perfectly content to remain in the congregation of the righteous, knowing “God knows my way.”
There is a way to not only hope for, but expect God’s blessing: consistently allow the Word of God to saturate your mind and penetrate your heart. It is only then that you will be able to find fruitfulness and endurance. It is only then that you will truly find God’s blessing.