“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.”
Here is an image of one who is rooted. This person does not commingle with wickedness, but instead delights in God’s law. For the Jews, the Law (Torah) served as a guide to righteousness. When one dwelt upon it and put it to practice, he found rootedness in it because it was God’s word to his people, more desirable than gold, and sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:10). The Law was God’s way of assisting his people in living holy lives for the purpose of fellowship with Him. When the Law was kept by God’s “set apart” people, he dwelt with them. He guided them by cloud and by pillar of fire. He pitched his tent, set up shop, made his presence known. When Israel lived out the Law given to her, she showed obedience to Yahweh, and as a result, was blessed and fortunate. She dwelt peacefully in the land.
Christians are not bound by the Jewish Law, but we are bound by the Law written upon our hearts. Through the grace of Jesus Christ we have “hearts of flesh”; God’s law is written into our souls. Just as the Jews saw their Torah as sweeter than honey, so should we understand the guidance we receive from the Holy Spirit as precious and invaluable. By giving the Holy Spirit to us, God has poured his love into our hearts (Romans 5:5). When we take time to listen to His voice, to be guided by it, we are practicing what the psalmist did as he meditated day and night. The Hebrew word for meditate in this passage is hagah, and it basically means to repeat something over and over quietly to oneself. This is one way the Jewish people internalized God’s precious Law to them. They repeated it over and over, paid close attention to it, studied it, were taught and guided by it.
In the same way, Christians must be intentional about meditating on the Law of the Heart. One way to be guided by this Law is to make time for stillness and silence before the Lord. When we seek His will from the depth of our being, He will guide us. And we will prosper and be blessed and know that He dwells with us. Like the imagery in the psalm, we will be rooted. Having sunk those roots deep by the Stream of Living Water, we will draw eternal life, and we will find stability. Jewish philosopher Simone Weil said, “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” The fast pace of modern life often prevents us from planting roots in anything. We are easily distracted and finding the time to meditate on God’s Law proves difficult. We don’t recognize the profound human need for being rooted. But if we slow down and meditate upon this sweet Law of the Heart, we will realize the presence of the Risen Lord who dwells within us, who has pitched His tent among us, and pours into us streams of Living Water. In turn, that Water will yield fruit and keep our leaves from withering.