Psalm 1 (NIV)
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 They are like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither –
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
The Psalmist, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has described as “blessed” the person “whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” To me, the simile then used is most appropriate: that of a tree planted by streams of water. The streams continue to bring nutrients to the roots of the tree which are then available to strengthen that tree and allow it to grow and flourish. The water is available to the tree year-round, enabling it to bear its fruit in season. Another simile, that of bearing fruit, brings to mind the teachings and parables of Jesus.
I acquired the painting depicted above the words of Psalm 1 seventeen years ago because it represented to me that very Psalm! It was painted by an eleven-year-old girl who had been one of the “Children of Romania”, one of those institutionalised during the Ceausescu regime in the atrocious “orphanages” of a Soviet-era social policy that tore down the family structure and left the raising of children to the secular state.
This child had been rescued and afforded nurture in a Christian home where learning to paint was a part of the process of rehabilitation. The tree, the stream, the roots reaching among other forms of life, the red and pumping heart and the children at play speak to me of the delight that comes from the law of the LORD and from intimacy with him.
In reminding me of Psalm 1, the painting also points me to the grim fate from which this child had been rescued. Social policy such as that which committed some 170,000 infants and children to “orphanages” can only be described as wicked. So too is any policy which is contrary to God’s will for all his children, whether introduced in deliberate defiance of God or with casual disregard to his law.
The painting reminds me that it is not only Communist-era Romania that was guilty of this. The wicked are seeking to introduce radical social policy in the West, today, including in our own country. Regrettably wicked people are also to be found in our churches, schools and media.
The “law” refers not only to the Law of Moses but refers also (in the words of Jesus in Matthew 28: 20) “to obey everything I have commanded you.” Do we delight in the law of the Lord? Do we meditate on his law day and night? Are we like the tree planted by streams of water? Are we bearing fruit for Jesus?