We live in a world that is trying to gain control of our thoughts, our mind, our actions, and our decisions, and ultimately our hearts. Our culture wants us to live and drink from its riches rather than from God's gifts. We are influenced and misled each and every day by all the concerns of this world. TV, Internet, radio, work, the mall, and even walking down the grocery aisle can all be places of temptation to step outside of God's desires for our lives.
And what can be really frustrating is that even when we know certain things are pulling us towards that which isn’t healthy, we, for whatever reason, still are drawn to that which hurts us. Pornography, illicit sex, violence, hatred, self-interest, entitlement, and many other destructive things can too easily find residence in our lives.
One cannot drink from the Word of God, from the Spirit of God, and still drink from things outside of Him. Nor can we get healthy and be strong and true while still ingesting poison. Just as a doctor would not give you an antidote as well as poison, we too must solely drink from God and him alone and stay away from harmful things.
So how? Psalm 1 offers guidance so we push away those things that are against God and drink in all that we need each and every day from the hand of God.
I love the imagery of this psalm. When you read the poetry, you can easily picture a large glorious tree full of life that is growing beautifully in a lush meadow--all being fed by a stream not too far away. I almost picture the roots of this tree jettisoning out of the banks as they dip down and drink from the refreshing stream. Everything the tree needs is here. And what we hear is that the one who drinks from this stream is “blessed.”
What’s interesting to me is that the psalmist says what is blessed by stating, in the beginning, what is NOT blessed. That is striking to me. Would it not have been better, easier, more poetic to sing of the blessings of God by simply speaking of those and not even addressing the “non-blessings” or the ways of the “wicked”? Why has the psalmist chosen this route?
I think it’s because the psalmist understands human nature, the things he has done, the things he continues to do. He has named the struggles and he is kind of calling himself out on it. Maybe he is giving himself a pep-talk (“Come on Kelly…you can do this…fight that urge, don’t give in to group-think and unwise actions…stay strong young Padawan!!”) or maybe it’s like Smeagol from the Lord of the Rings, as part of him fights with the other part, trying to gain control of the body, the words, the actions, and decisions.
The psalmist says that we simply need to be in the Word of God, day and night. All areas of our lives must be drawing from God. Just as water strengthens and cleanses, so too does God and his word. And ultimately, what we need to remember is that God not only created us to drink from his goodness but he has gone out of his way to move that water closer and closer to you and me by way of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
It helps to structure your day around God's priorities. Here are some suggestions that I have found helpful:
Whatever you find that works for you to daily drink from the well of our Lord, do it! And if you find something isn’t working, then choose to change it up and try something new! Experiment with times of the day too. You may find that you need it just before laying down to sleep, or you may find that you need it in the middle of the day. It doesn’t matter when or where, it simply matters, for our health, that it is done. What matters is connecting with God and drinking deeply from his word.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Dr. Robert Ritzema