At first glance, Psalm 1 may seem like a simplistic portrayal of righteousness and its benefits. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked...whatever he does prospers"--this sounds a bit like the Health and Wealth Gospel that has led so many people astray. Besides, it's often the wicked who prosper in this world, while the righteous suffer; this was as true in the psalmist's time as it is now. ("For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles, their bodies are healthy and strong." -Psalm 73:3, 4)
However, verses 3 and 4 are the key to a deeper understanding of Psalm 1. When the wicked prosper, they prosper in the things of this world, like wealth, power, prestige, and popularity--all the things that are doomed to wither and die, "like chaff that the wind blows away". A person who trusts in the Lord, on the other hand, "is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and who's leaf does not wither". Trees can survive droughts or storms because their roots grow deep into the earth, to find water and to anchor the trees against the wind. In the same way, the righteous survive life's droughts and storms because they are rooted in the power and grace of God. This is true prosperity, prosperity that will last a lifetime and for all eternity.
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