Monday, September 10, 2018

Trees and Chaff

Psalm 1.1-4   "How blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.  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."

These are classic verses.  Most Christians have read them many times.  Many have studied them and been inspired to spend time meditating on the word.  Some have even memorized part or all of Psalm1 so as to have them always available for edification and encouragement.  I have read them more times than I can count.  When I was younger, I was motivated to do things which would serve to "plant me by streams of water".  I asked God to lead me into a lifestyle that would avail me to regular access to the river, so that when I got older, I would be like that tree planted by the stream.

Within these verses are many ideas, and many layers of ideas, to help believers develop God's perspective on faith and His word, and the fruit of consuming His word.  This chapter brings up images of nourishment and feeding on God's word.  Images of abundance and strength.  Later in the chapter, it goes on to speak of outcomes and consequences.  The righteous will be like a tree planted by a stream, and will prosper in all that they do.  The wicked will be driven away by the wind, like chaff.  They will not stand, but will perish.  Amidst the great and inspiring imagery, one notion often gets overlooked: specifically how chaff is not like trees.  How exactly is chaff different than trees?

Trees stay put, usually no matter what is happening around them.  Chaff blows around easily, never staying anywhere very long but always going wherever the wind blows it.

Trees have as much hidden below the ground as they have visible above the ground.  No one can see the roots. But they are still a crucial part of any tree.  Chaff has no roots below ground.  Everything is visible.  What you see is what you get.

Trees are weighty and powerful and growing.  Chaff is light and impotent and always being dispersed.

Trees have a lot of inherant value as they are able to provide for a lot of needs and address a lot of functions.  Chaff is useless.  It soils anything it touches, and risks disabling it.

Trees are enduring.  They can last for decades, or even centuries.  Chaff is fleeting.  It gathers together, and, just like that, it is gone.

I don't know about you.  But I think that if I had a choice between being powerful and enduring and useful, or being pointless and fleeting and harmful, I would choose the former.   No question.  We cannot always choose how we respond in the heat of the moment.  But we can always choose how we invest ourselves, our time, our energy and our resources.

Psalm 1 does not say to avoid the wicked.  But it does say to avoid the counsel of the wicked, along with the way of sinners and the seat of scoffers.  If we develop a lifestyle of avoiding these things, and delighting in the law of the Lord, we can become like that tree, being constantly nourished.  We can become planted and enduring rather than fleeting and like a vapor.

I pray that each of us will continue to develop a lifestyle of delighting in and meditating on God's word.

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