Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. (NIV)
In the Revised Common Lectionary, the psalm is selected as a complement with the First Reading, which is usually from the Hebrew Scriptures. This week’s selection is no exception. The law that gives life is the subject of the day. The psalmist is celebrating that the one who delights in the law follows the law. The one who attends to God’s law—the perfect expression of God’s will—is sustained and can make it through anything. She will be fruitful, like a tree that has a regular water source. He will be resilient, not withering under pressure. They will be clearly evident by their verdant growth.
There is a small river that runs in the valley behind my home. I cannot see the water, but I can see where it is. There are trees all along it. That is the only place in the valley there are trees. All the rest of the area is scrub brush and cactus. The native scrub brush turns brown every summer, but not the trees. They stay green all year long. We had draught the last few years. The trees stayed green. They rebounded well after the wildfire that went through there eleven years ago. Those trees are an apt metaphor for the person who relies on God. Nothing can get them down.
Life is hard. Bad things happen. Everyone has their share of suffering. Yes, and some get more than their fair share. But a person who relies on God and keeps their mind focused on God’s power and God’s presence will be able to keep their sense of meaning and purpose—or at least recover it fairly quickly—when the worst happens. They will preserve the sense that God is with them; they are not alone going through whatever it is life brings them. They are not abandoned when life happens. They are comforted. They are strengthened. They are sustained.
And they know who to hang around with. They don’t walk alongside those who would only look out for themselves, who only take and don’t give. These are not going to help them along the way. The people who seek out God’s law don’t wish to linger with those who do not. They don’t spend time with those who make fun of their faith. When times get hard, they don’t waste their energy chasing after people who will continue to drag them down, they spend time with those who will reinforce their faith, support their values and enjoy that which is good.
Blessings to you,
Who do you walk/sit/stand with that might be a bad influence on you? What habits do you keep that sustain and strengthen you? Who stands with you in supporting the strength of your character? Do you need to spend more time with them?
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.