In a world geared toward the trivial, being a person of substance and depth is difficult and unusual. Frankly, most folk don’t want to invest the time necessary to be anything beyond superficial. It simply demands too much. This is certainly the case among those whose soul-emptiness leaves them unfamiliar with anything truly greater than themselves. Sadly, this shallowness can also be found among believers, who, though having God’s infinite resources at their disposal, find it too taxing to take hold of them.
Maybe this is why for me Psalm 1 is such a foil. While offering a distinct contrast between spiritual maturity and common wickedness, the psalmist, in verse 3, reveals something crucial about what being a person of substance looks like:
He is like a tree planted by
streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Look carefully at the progression revealed in the verse. Note how the spiritually substantive person is like a tree planted by streams of water. Can’t you see a sprawling elm tree whose roots are planted deeply in the water below ground? This tree has found something worth tapping into, and it isn’t about to stop! And notice too the benefit: fruit is borne in season. This has special significance, for it reminds us that the blessings of being deeply rooted will unveil themselves at the proper time—in season. God’s provisions to us and through us are always sufficiently abundant and sufficiently timed.
You should know, however, that it is the next line that is most noteworthy. The one who is deeply rooted bears fruit at the proper time, but this is because the deep root keeps his or her leaf from withering. The statement evokes a colorful image of rich foliage that never falls away, is always
plush, always vibrant, and surging with life. It is the tree in full leaf that bears fruit. And it is the tree in full leaf that is unyielding to the gales of life.
It seems evident that a vibrant, green leaf will really stand out in a world made dry and brittle by superficial scrambling. Being like a leaf that does not wither implies being deeply embedded into something that is rich and great. I don’t know about you, but I want this. Indeed, this is my prayer—that God would allow me the privilege of conforming well to the imagery of Psalm 1:3: deeply rooted, bearing fruit, and like a flourishing green leaf. After all, the people around me can’t find shade under a leafless—indeed, a lifeless—tree. Loving God and neighbor demands I be green.
And it demands the same of you.