Happy are those who...delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
(cf. Psalm 1:1-3)
LISTEN TO: Blind Boys of Alabama: "I Shall Not Be Moved"
Everywhere we turn, someone new has the secret to living a happy and successful life. There are books galore spouting outlines to financial, personal, or emotional freedom. Blogs are running amok with snappy sound bites on how to live each day to the fullest. It seems for a people who have accomplished so much, we keep searching for more. What golden ticket are we looking for?
The Book of Psalms is an ancient source of wisdom written thousands of years ago with basic advice, tried and true. The book opens with a blessing. Do we want to live a happy life, a blessed life? The "secret" the ancients discovered is this: live the covenant. The Psalmist talks about "the law" but the law is not "the law" in our modern, secular understanding of the term. "The law" is the covenant of love and reconciliation God has established with Israel and ultimately with humankind through Jesus Christ. This covenant is about relationship with God, community that is spelled out in worship and right living. So being happy, blessed and successful has a lot to do with how we treat others.
From the root of blessed/blessing comes generous, gift, peace, even benefit. So our efforts to live rightly according to covenant precepts, to delight in these conditions God has set forth for us, to ponder them and apply them day and night, makes a blessing. It turns us into generous people. It makes us a gifted people. A peaceful people. Please note the difference: blessing and success is not about how much we gain but about how we all benefit when one person chooses to live the precepts of "the law." Remember again Jesus' response about the how to follow the law: (Matt. 22:36-40)
"One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
Or from the Prophet Micah:
"And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8
So Psalm 1 is the true mini-guide to successful living we need. The psalmist says if we practice covenant love we are like trees, planted by the water. A tree planted by a water source in a dry Mediterranean climate has hit the jackpot. It doesn't have to worry how it's going to be nourished. It is watered despite whatever the weather conditions around it. No matter what is happening, it produces fruit and its leaves provide shade. It is able to prosper and grow.
This tree is a symbol of how we are to be in this world. Planted in God's word and love, we bring forth fruit and shade for others. We are a blessing. We prosper even in difficult conditions. We are blessed because make a difference in the lives of others.
So today, study psalm 1, the mini-guide to successful living. Do you need help in learning more about "God's law?" Join us! Our Bible Study "Summer in the Psalms" will begin on Facebook on May 18. Like us on Facebook and join the journey! If you are local, we meet Tuesday nights in Nassau Country, Long Island. Questions? Shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you!
Prayer: "God, make me a blessing to others, like a tree planted along side the waters. Give me the grace to delight in right living and teaching and to study it."