As we continue through the first of the Psalms, we have the seen the rooted life described in both negative and positive terms. Now we see it described pictorially, and it stands as the key verse to the Psalm.
Psalm 1:3 – 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.
Much of the Holy Land is rather arid. The picture of vast regions of stone with green swaths through which streams travelled, dotted with isolated trees, would be a common one.
And though we live in an area where it (this year) seems to rain every day whether it really needs to or not, it is not always that way. And we know as well that trees growing alongside streams have an easier time, especially in drought conditions. Think about the beautiful views we see of stately trees growing along the Potomac, the Antietam or the Conococheague.
The picture is one of constant nourishment and steady health. This sort of tree is not dependent upon intermittent showers, and is therefore not susceptible to dry times. The roots do not need to stay close to the surface, but are able to go deeply into the soil, providing a better foundation for the tree in perilous times – when the winds of adversity come.
This second tree pictured is from west of Hancock on a mountain several hundred feet above the surface of the Potomac River. Note how minimal is the roots system for the size of the tree. It could not withstand the storm, nor did quite a number of others nearby. They look like dominoes knocked over in a recent storm that spawned tornadoes.
Beyond simply standing and looking good, the tree by the water produces fruit at the right time, in season. It is regular and dependable.
The picture is a beautiful one and as obvious for application as any in Scripture. Is your life, your roots, deeply embedded in the Scriptures, or do you depend upon occasional “showers of blessing” for your spiritual sustenance? If you are depending only upon the occasional sermon for biblical enrichment, you are going to have your “leaves” wither and your “roots” be insufficient foundations for the inevitable sorrows of life.
Are you able to be described like the tree by the water in terms of your life and service to others? If not, it may be that an examination of the roots is in order more than a reflection upon the nature of the storm systems.
And beyond standing alone, there is greater strength in standing together. What is better: a tree by itself (even well-rooted) or a tree growing near others around it? With others trees and roots systems intertwined, there is mutual support. And so it is in the body of Christ and your regular connection to it. If you do not connect deeply in the church family, you are essentially being an independent tree – be it in a field or along a stream.
So how are your roots?