Episode 9. Be A Tree. Psalm 1. Isaiah 61:1-3
It's a long process to go from a seed to an oak tree. Takes years. But once that tree has grown, it stands firm for centuries. The winds can blow and the storms can come, but its roots have grown deep next to the water and it is steady and unshaken. Let's be like that tree. Join Nicole and Sharon for a discussion today that features lots of laughter and study as they talk about why we should all be like that tree.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Well. Hello, tired one. Are you feeling a bit frazzled and worn out? Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. We hope lessons from God’s word and encouragement from us will lead you to soul rest. Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by word radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome back podcast friends to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. We are so glad you are here for episode nine, ‘Be a Tree’. Today we will be reading from Psalm chapter one and Isaiah chapter 61 and chatting about trees. Now here’s Sharon to start off this fun discussion.
Nicole, have you ever been told to be a tree before?
I haven’t. Not yet.
Neither have I. But this particular Psalm that we’re going to look at and then later on in Isaiah basically shows the value that is in being a tree. So we’re going to talk about that today. And I love trees and I especially have loved trees recently since my father-in-law moved in with us. When he moved in, he spent hours on the back deck admiring trees. And whenever I’d go out to see him and say, how you doing dad? He’d say, sit down, sit down honey, look at those trees. And so I would sit and look at trees. But as I did, I saw all kinds of special things that I’d never seen before. He was enamored with them because he’d really spent most of his life indoors and now he had all the time in the world to watch trees grow. So.
You got to see them through fresh eyes.
He really did. And I did too. It was lovely. And of course in New Hampshire there’s no shortage of trees. Do you have a favorite tree?
Ooh, any of the flowering ones in the spring, like the dogwoods and the magnolia trees I love them; they’re so beautiful. But I really like weeping willows. We had one in our yard as a kid and I love watching like the branches sway in the wind. They’re just so pretty.
They are. And you can hide inside them and feel like you’re in a weeping willow tent.
I love them all. I think the oak tree though is one of my very favorites because it’s so permanent. They can live up to 600 years. And that’s stunning to me. You know, you could go visit your grandparents when you were a little kid and see this big oak tree, and then you could come back 70 years later and your grandparents would not be there, but the tree would, and it would be there for your great grandchildren. So trees are long lasting. They’re sturdy, they’re homes to many animals and birds. They’re a shelter. They give off oxygen and trees stay put. They don’t just run off. You know, once the tree is planted, it stays where it’s planted. And that is actually going to be our theme song. So let’s look at Psalm one and read a verse each and podcast listener, these are always our most favorite moments, not when we’re talking, but when God’s word is talking as it were. So have a listen to Psalm one as we read. And Nicole, you can start with verse one.
All right. Psalm one ‘Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.
But whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night.
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.
Not so the wicked, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous. But the way of the wicked leads to destruction. Just six short verses, but so much packed into them. And I want to go back and look at verse one for just a moment and ponder a progression here. So listen to this, ‘blessed is the one who does not, first of all, walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers. So we’re going to look at that. But first of all, ‘blessed’. What is that? It’s just such a Bible word. When you read ‘blessed’ what do you think?
You don’t often hear it in casual conversation.
I know this is true. Blessed but not ‘bless-ed’.
Bless-ed. I think like a future blessing, like ‘you will be blessed’ kind of thing.
I think I do too. I know that the Good News translation years ago translated it as happy. Happy is the one, which is a sweet little definition too. But I kind of see it as a future blessing too that if you do whatever it is about to tell you this will bring goodness to you. This will bring happiness, but even more than happiness, sort of that ‘Shalom completeness’ kind of thought.
So, so basically you’re blessed if you don’t do these things. If you don’t walk in step with the wicked, if you don’t stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers. So this progression, I was thinking how… what would this look like in reality for us? And I had this thought, first of all, you’re just walking in step with the wicked that might be watching a movie or a TV series where adultery is like the thing to do.
You watch the wife and the husband and he’s awful and she’s just brow beaten. I mean, not that he’s beating her, he’s just grumpy. And so all of a sudden there’s this la– hero over there and in the TV series or the movie series, as you walk in this way, you’re starting to root for this wife to be unfaithful. So the first thing is just kind of walking in a direction that is not godly, it’s not what God would want. So then the next part, to stand, you’re not walking anymore, you’re standing still with it. Would be to start thinking about your own life and going, Hey, I don’t have a hero like that hero. My husband’s a bit stodgy, you know, perhaps I could do better. So then you’re standing there and you’re starting to take what you’ve seen on the screen that is pushing you towards wrong values and you’re starting to incorporate them and then you sit and you start to act on them. And I just, the progression is kind of scary.
Yeah. Making yourself comfortable.
Yeah. What do you think? Have you got any thoughts on that?
Yeah, hearing the walk, the walk and step, it just, it seems like you’re matching like footstep to footstep with someone or walking beside them someplace. So like you said, that slow progression of, Oh, okay, well let’s just see what this is about. And then kind of slowly getting deeper into sin that you probably weren’t intending on doing.
Exactly. Exactly. Just walking with them. Then you’re stopping and then you’re there, you’re sitting.
So yeah, you’re committed to it.
Exactly. So this is not good. And then the other thing that’s interesting is you’re sitting in the company of mockers. What do you think of when you think of that word? Mocker?
Honestly, I think of those two old Muppets in the Muppet show that always got in the balcony and heckled everybody
You know what, that is perfect. Yes, they didn’t take anything seriously. And their profession was laughing at people.
Yes. And making fun of anything, you know, sacred or not. They just made fun of everything.
And a mocker makes light of the sacred basically don’t they? And so when you’ve sat down in the company of mockers, you are no longer reverencing God, you’re no longer saying, whoa, what do you say I should do? You’re, you’re kind of cynical, cosmopolitan, lost soul, you know? So, yeah. So, okay, this is what we shouldn’t do. All right then we’ve established that.
So, all right, well, what should we do? Let me read verses two and three. So blessed is the one who doesn’t do these things, but instead whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night, that person, here’s our word, 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. Man. Okay. So first of all, what does the tree person do? What does the good guy do?
They’re delighting in the law of the Lord. And they’re thinking on it and meditating on his law day and night.
Yeah. That’s the first thing they do. They’re the opposite of the mocker. The mocker just, you know, sneers. And the person that loves the Lord wants to know what the person, the one they love, wants them to do. Right. You know?
It’s almost like they’re throwing themselves wholeheartedly into following God. So not just walking in step, but like, okay, I’m delighting. I’m meditating day and night. That’s a lot of meditating.
It actually is, yes, and you would associate that with someone you loved that when you’ve got, you know, I’ll tell you what, when the love was fresh and new with Ray Gamble, I drove everybody around me crazy cause all I wanted to do was talk about him. And I remember my friends saying, this is enough. I don’t want to talk about Ray Gamble. Why not? He’s fascinating.
He’s fabulous, yes.
So it’s kind of that idea where I have a God who loves me, who made me cares about me. I want to know how to please him. I want to know all about him. I love him. I can’t get enough of him. It’s that kind of thought. So, just really sweet.
Yeah, it is.
And then they plant themselves. A tree is planted by streams of water. Of course the tree can’t plant itself. It just sort of is. However if we want to be trees, we have a little bit more freedom. We can plant ourselves in good places. And that means, you know, in a good church with friends that will help us glorify God with the rhythm of quiet time where we’re drinking that living water, all those sweet, sweet things. So, so neat.
That is so true.
And then it’s, what’s the result of this? If you do that, if you do all this delighting and meditating and planting, what happens?
Well it says that will yield fruit. Well, Oh it yields its fruit in season and our leaves will not wither and whatever they do will prosper. So yield its fruit in season. So the fruit of the spirit, I’m assuming.
Yeah, maybe that or maybe good works for us because it’s in season. I don’t think the fruit of the spirit would ever not be in season.
Right. You want that year round.
But I really meditated on that. Yeah. The leaf is always green. It doesn’t wither. So I’m thinking like rhododendron, right. Because they still have their leaves in winter but the rhododendron doesn’t blossom all year round. So I’m wondering if there’s times when we’re just, you know, having those Selah times where we’re still and we’re drinking and we’re growing into our little oak tree selves but, but maybe, you know, producing new converts and you know, magnificent, I don’t know, writings are not, it’s not occurring. You know, that some of the fruit that our giftings would do maybe are not always in season. Maybe there’s just some still times.
Oh I actually like that cause there is such an ebb and flow in my own life of that closeness and richness with God and then kind of sometimes we’ve talked about those dry periods too where things are just really difficult. So I’m not always a blossoming, beautiful flowered tree. There’s definitely some times where it’s more of a quieter kind of drinking in and getting ready for the next step so that does make sense to put it in that light
I kind of enjoyed thinking about that. Yes. Cause at first you always think of the fruit of the spirit. And then I’m like, wait a second. So yeah, I think, I think it’s almost reassuring. You know, we’re going to stay in one place, whether we’re bearing fruit at the moment or not. Our leaves are going to stay green. We’re not going to wither up because we are by that stream of living water. We’re drinking in God’s word. And then as he chooses, he will use us in amazing blossomy ways. And then sometimes we’re pruned like Jesus talks about in John 15
Nope, it’s not my favorite.
Not mine either. And then we’re sort of back to just drinking the water again.
Yeah, where’d all my leaves go?
So this is kind of fun. I thought it was interesting. And then the last line, whatever they do prospers. That’s interesting because we know that that doesn’t mean prosper in the sense of whatever they do, they will be wealthy. Right?
Right, right. Or everything will be lovely and roses.
Right. So what does prosper mean then? If it isn’t in the worldly sense, what does it mean that whatever they do prospers? Hmm.
Hmm. I don’t know. It kinda reminds me of, so my father-in-law has this beautiful little orchard of apple trees and he works really hard to take care of them and he prunes them. He sprays them for bugs, he picks them, he cultivates around them, and when they blossom or have a really good crop, we don’t usually compliment that tree. We usually compliment him and say, Hey, you did a really great job. You worked really hard. And we give him the glory for the prospering of the tree. So maybe whatever we do prospers. So even I think it somehow goes back to giving God, giving God glory.
I kinda like that. I do, yes. Because in his big scheme of things. Even if we have a season of quiet, even that when we are drinking from him every day, we are prospering his kingdom because we’re where we’re supposed to be.
Right. Yeah. So we’re not always the biggest beautiful tree with apples, but it always kind of points back to the farmer, the gardener who’s caring for the trees.
Yes. Yeah. And if we’re by that stream of living water, we will prosper in terms of have good internal health because of that. Whether the fruit is there at that second or not?
So it’s so much fun to look at scripture.
It is! There’s so much in there that sometimes you breeze over and go, wait a minute, how am I like a tree?
Never thought of that before. So when winds come to a well planted tree, you know, what happens to the tree?
It’s not going to go anywhere if it’s roots are good.
It’s just going to stand there and you can watch really wild wind sometimes and hope the tree stands. And most of the time, especially those 600 year old oaks, they have certainly endured some wind in 600 years. And yet, because those roots are deep because they’ve curled around each other and they’ve curled around rock and whatever else, roots curl around. They are so firm underneath the ground that whatever happens on the surface doesn’t affect their ability to stand. And Oh my goodness is not that what we want? To have our roots dug so deep in knowing that the story ends well with us in heaven with Jesus and knowing that he plans everything and that he will prosper through even the hardest times we can stand even when the immediate around us is unpleasant and tornado like.
It is so neat. I love it.
That is so neat, yeah.
Okay, so now we’re going to contrast this. We’ve talked about what we shouldn’t do and then what we should do in terms of behavior. Well, we’re almost going back to those people that are scoffing when we talk about this next section, which is comparing a tree to chaff. So would you read verses four through six?
Sure. Not so the wicked, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous. But the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
So chaff, Oh my word, what is chaff anyways?
(laughs) I don’t know.
I’ve never seen one piece of chaff. I always think of chaff, whatever it is, it’s sort of a clump kind of floating down the highway or down the dusty field.
So I picture it in a group. I don’t know why because I think chaff is like the part of the wheat that you don’t eat. It’s like the flyaway part, right?
Yes, it’s the shell part, right?
So you know it has no substance and it has no ability to stay in one place. If the wind blows to the West, the chaff and its little bundle of other chaffy friends blow to the West. And you know, they fall in a puddle, they can’t get out, they just sink to the bottom. So chaff is sort of a mob mentality to me and we are all capable of being blown with the latest fad, the latest belief system, the latest trend. And even those of us that know the Lord, if we’re not careful, can get on that chaff bandwagon and just roll in places we shouldn’t be instead of staying rooted where the truth is. So, I just love …,
That’s a good reminder cause you think of the chaff as just like almost the worldly or the ungodly. But that applies to us as well. You know, just because we’re believers doesn’t mean that we’re not prone to being caught up in the latest fad or whatnot.
Exactly. And that’s why our roots need to go deep so that we can say, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. What they’re telling me here is not in line with scripture.
And I need to stay rooted right here. I don’t need to be blowing over there. So yes, for people that don’t have their roots and their foundation in the belief that there is truth; in the belief that God actually did make us, does know the right way to live. Without that you’re just at, you know, you’re at the whim of the wind, wherever the wind blows.
Right. So, right. The mercy of culture, whatever people decide is the new right. You’re just kind of stuck going along with it cause you have nothing to anchor you firmly. So definitely.
There’s no hope for that. Yeah.
It’s a very big contrast. Oak tree, chaff. I mean, it really can’t be greater and yes, I think you’re right. I think most of the time chaff refers to the unrighteous. I just know that myself, even though I am planted, I can sway when the wind blows in directions and then I have to wait a second. No, no, no, no, no. What am I saying here? This is not what God would want. So yeah. So I am also interested where it says that the wicked won’t stand in the judgment. So when they get to judgment, there’s not going to be pride left. It’s not going to be, you know, I did it my way and I’m proud of it. There’ll be no standing.
Oh, okay. That’s what. I looked at that and said, I wonder what that means. I know we’ll all face judgment someday, but it says they will not stand in the judgment, but I think you’re right. There’ll be no arrogance or no like, well this is what I’ve chosen and it’s, it’s my path.
Yeah, it’s going to be devastating. And I think the Psalmist wants us to hear that so that we go find those streams of water and get ourselves planted. This will not be fun. The way of the wicked leads to destruction, that’s harsh. That’s fierce. And if it’s true. And you and I believe it is true. It’s a Clarion call. Don’t be chaff!
Be a tree! Oh my goodness. So how in the world does this relate to Sweet Selah Moments? Well, it takes a long time for a tree to grow when that little Oak tree starts, it’s not all that impressive. In fact, you might step on it in the woods, not even knowing you’re stepping on a little oak tree?
Right. They’re so little when they first sprout up.
They are. They’re just tiny. They just kind of blend in with the, you know, the undergrowth there. And for us, when we first start following Christ, it’s not like we’re this towering mighty Oak where animals come and shelter in us. We’re this little sapling just starting out. But if, if we’re planted on the word and if we’re reading in the word and we’re drinking in the word, we will grow. And Sweet Selah Ministries is all about saying, spend time with God. Spend time with God. Spend time with God. Don’t stop. It may be a slow process to maturity. There may be hard things and people stepping on you along the way, but you will grow, you will become an oak if you stay following the way that God tells you to go. So.
So it’s worth it.
It is. It’s a battle but it’s very worth it.
I have a couple of pictures of my house. One is of an old man on one side of the fireplace and the other side is an old woman and they’re, they’re bowed in prayer and they have a bowl of soup beside them and a Bible open and their hands are folded. And I look at them and I think I want to grow up to be them. Lord, I want, I want to have my daily bread and I want to be meeting with you. I want to finish well, I want to finish well like that. I don’t want to be just a little chaff or a little spurt. I want to finish well and that, that brings to my mind that picture of staying put in the good times and the bad times when there’s a drought, when there’s heat, when there’s wind, whatever there is staying put right where I know living water is found, which is in God’s word.
Okay. Well let’s look at Isaiah 61 really quickly because Oh my goodness, we are just zipping through this. So if you want to read verses one and two, I’ll read verse three of Isaiah 61.
Sure. Isaiah 61, the spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God to comfort all who mourn
And provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. The oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Oh, I like that! Oaks of righteousness.
Oh, it’s just so beautiful. and a planting of the Lord brings me right back to your grandfather, doesn’t it? That whole imagery of him planting the apple trees. So nobody’s like, yeah, apple tree, they’re like, Whoa, gardener! Right. And God plants us for a display of his splendor. Man. It’s just so beautiful to contemplate. So, and this whole passage is the one that Jesus quoted from when he was basically announcing himself as Messiah, the fact that he was called to come and comfort the mourning and break chains and all this stuff from Isaiah. This is him, this is our God, and he’s the one, if we will go to him, that will do this for us, that will give us the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. These are the things our God gives us. If we will trust him to plant us by him and if we’ll stay near. And those are wonderful things to want.
Yeah. Yes, they are.
Oh my goodness. So our little quiet times that we talk about all the time. Every time we have one, we’re growing a little bigger. We’re growing a little bit closer, our leaves are not withering. And then in season as God chooses, he’s going to use us in some pretty sweet ways with our giftings. And then maybe there’ll be another season of quiet. And we can trust that too. As long as we stay planted where we’re supposed to be planted. I think that’s the key. So…
Yeah, I think you’re right.
Any last thoughts about trees?
Oh no, I like these verses though. That’s really cool.
I do too. I really do.
Especially that last one. The oaks of righteousness. The planting of the Lord, it’s just, it’s such a purposeful thing. Like he plants us. It just all goes back to him.
It does. It does. And we need him to, we can’t do it by ourselves.
No, we can’t.
And we sure don’t have water on our own. We’ve got to go to him for that living water.
Well, let me pray for all of us. You and me, Nicole and everybody listening. Let’s pray about being a tree. It’d be a fun thing to think about this week.
Great imagery to think of, you know?
I will not be chaff, Lord, help me be a tree. Okay, so, Oh father God, I thank you. I thank you that when we come to you, when we plant or let you plant us in the firm soil and foundation of the good news of Christ and the living water in your word, you will help us grow. You will give us leaves that don’t wither and Lord, you’ll be able to use us to bear fruit in your kingdom. What a joy. Father, help us to be trees help us not to wander here and there by every passing fad. Help us to stay rooted in you. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Amen. Thanks Sharon. Oh, that we could all be called Oaks of righteousness. Dear listener, we can only grow in Christ by taking the time to pause, read his word and know God more. Thank you for joining us today. Remember to check out our show firstname.lastname@example.org and leave us a comment about today’s episode. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. We would love it if you would subscribe to our podcast and share it with your friends. You won’t want to miss next week. We’ll be doing a series on the book of Habakkuk, a minor prophet who got really frustrated because his world was falling apart and God did not seem to be helping. We’ve all had Habakkuk times, haven’t we? Habakkuk also has those little pauses, our special word, the Selah, so see you next week for episode 10 When it’s hard to pray.
Speaker 1 (28:21):
We are so glad you stopped for awhile with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes, can be email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you for joining us.
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