“A Tree Planted By The Rivers Of Water”

by Jarrod Jacobs

May 13, 2000

     “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. [2] But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. [3] And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. [4] The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. [5] Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. [6] For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1).

     In considering this first psalm of David, there are several lessons to be learned. In this psalm, David teaches six general lessons: 1) The progressive nature of sin (v. 1). 2) The delight of the righteous man (v. 2). 3) The comparison of the righteous man to a fruitful tree (v. 3). 4) The unrighteous who stand in opposition to the righteous (v. 4). 5) The fact that the righteous and ungodly do not have “common ground” (v. 5). 6) The ultimate results of righteous and wicked living (v. 6). Of course, we could consider these points, study them in greater depth, and fill a book with all the lessons we could learn from this short passage.

     In this issue, we will consider the third verse of Psalm One. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Here, we find the righteous man compared to a tree. Jeremiah made a similar comparison in Jeremiah 17:7-8. Also, the New Testament uses this comparison when talking about God’s people. What attributes of a tree ought to be present in the life of a righteous person?

A Tree Is A Planted Thing

     “And he shall be like a tree planted ...” A tree sprouts from a seed that has been planted. Then, the tree grows to maturity in the place it was planted. In like manner, Christians are said to be “planted.” Paul told the Romans, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:5). This “planting” was used to illustrate one’s baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). David said, “Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God” (Ps. 92:13).

     There is also a sense in which the word of God is described as a seed (Lk. 8:11). Based upon its implantation in the “honest and good heart” (Lk. 8:15), the seed will grow to maturity in the heart of a man. Therefore, when the seed (God’s word) is planted in men’s hearts, they obey the gospel, are buried (planted) with Christ in baptism and Christians are born!

     For all of this, let us remember that there are other “plants” which wish to choke us out and keep us from following the will of God. We see this in Christ’s parable in Matthew 13. We would do well to remember that one day, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13)!

A Tree Is A Rooted Thing

     Continuing in this illustration, the Bible talks about how a Christian is to be rooted or settled. Paul prayed, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17). “Rooted and grounded” carries the idea of being stable and settled (Strong’s). “Having your foundations resting on” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, p. 348). In his “New Testament Word Studies,” Mr. John Bengel suggests that Paul is painting the picture of “the root of a tree” and “the foundation of a house” (Vol. 2, p. 400).

     Further, Paul told the Colossians, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6-7). One commentary notes: “‘Rooted’ is in the past tense, implying their first conversion and vital grafting ‘in Him.’ Builded up is present ... implying their progressive increase in religion by union with Him” (JFB, p. 376). As a tree is settled in one spot (after having been planted) to grow and mature, so must we be settled (rooted) in Christ. The reason large trees withstand storms is because of the large root system they have developed within the earth. But, if there is corruption within the tree, the roots are weakened, and a mild breeze may blow down the tree. When it comes to our lives as Christians, Paul shows that it is not enough to be baptized, and then wait for Christ to take us! We must be rooted and grounded in Christ, or we will be blown away by “every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). Why? Because in such cases, we have allowed corruption to enter into our lives! Let us make sure we are “rooted and built up in Him”!

A Tree Is A Fruitful Thing

     David made this clear as he mentioned the tree, “...that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” If a Christian is to be of any value to Christ at all, he must be fruitful!

     Continuing this illustration in the New Testament, we see that if we are not fruitful, God will take us away to “be burned” (Jn. 15:2, 6). If we are not fruitful, it shows that we are not abiding in Christ, the true vine (Jn. 15:1, 4, 6).

     We would do well to ask a question: “Why was the tree of Psalm One fruitful?” Notice that its fruitfulness was based upon its location! It had been “planted by the rivers of water.” In other words, this tree had a source of nourishment. In like manner, Christians need that nourishment that only the “true vine” can provide (Jn. 15:1). By abiding in Christ, there is life and fruitfulness. By drinking of the “living water” Christ provides, we can be nourished and produce much fruit (Jn. 4:10)! Just as without “rivers of water” the tree dies, so without Christ, we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). We must be grounded and settled, finding our nourishment in Christ in order to be fruitful.

A Tree Is A Growing Thing

     A tree, properly planted and nourished, will grow. However, we must be patient. Growth in a tree is not noticeable to the naked eye over minutes and days, but is noticeable in months and years.

     Christians must grow and not get discouraged (Gal. 6:9; 2 Pet. 2:2, 3:18; Heb. 5:12-14). I think sometimes, we get impatient with babes in Christ, and expect them to be full-grown within a matter of days or weeks. This is just not possible. Just as the tree of Psalm One, we must be patient with our fellow Christians, especially babes in Christ, and allow them to grow, blossom, and flourish in their time, and not on our time-clock.

     When people come to Christ, believing that He is the Son of God, repenting of their sins, confessing His name before men, and being baptized for the remission of sins, they are saved (Heb. 11:6; Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Acts 17:30; Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:10; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Not only this, they are now babes in Christ (2 Pet. 2:2). If we will, we can be a source of encouragement, edification, help, and advice to these young ones. On the other hand, we can be discouraging, tear them down, be of no help, and offer nothing but cruel comments, or perhaps worst of all, ignore them completely and allow them to “wither on the vine”!! The choice is ours to make! How will we treat them? Just like literal babies, we cannot merely wring our hands and hope they will grow; we must be active!

     Let us be patient, and do what we can to nurture that growth so that they will “grow up into Him” (Eph. 4:15). Let us nurture and care for them as they grow; just as older Christians nurtured and cared for us while we were in the early stages of spiritual growth!


     Let us consider well the ways in which a Christian has the attributes of the tree described in Psalm One. Let us also never forget that it is God who gives life to the tree (and us), it is God who provides for the tree (and us), and one day, there will be a harvest (Matt. 13:24-30, 37-43)! On that day, where will you be? What will your spiritual condition be? Will you be standing with the sheep or the goats (Matt. 25:31-46)? Will you be found abiding in Christ (John 15:1-6)? Will your love for Him be manifest in your obedience to Him (Jn. 14:15)? Can it be said that you (I) are the friend of Christ (Jn. 15:14)? Let us close this article with the words of God through Jeremiah to the people of Judah.

     “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jer. 17:7-8).

Jarrod Jacobs
2155 SunSet Dr.
White Bluff, TN 37187

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