When I lived in Colorado my favorite place to visit was Breckenridge. And, unlike most, I didn’t prefer to visit it during ski or summer season, but in the fall when the aspen trees change. There, fall is in its fullest form.

In the Colorado mountains, this change in seasons is called “the gold rush” because of the vein-like streaks of yellow that the aspen trees paint on the sides of the mountains. (I totally recommend googling it. Seriously.) Because the aspen tree leaves turn bright yellow and are mostly surrounded by green fir trees, in the fall the multiplication pattern of the aspens is obvious. When aspens drop their seeds, because of their paper-like bark and light-weight seedlings, and because they are on a mountainside, their seeds fall down the slope, creating something of a veining throughout the green tree scape. If their bark and seedlings were heavier, we would see patches of gold leaves on the sides of our mountains, much like we see with most tree varieties. But, being lighter than paper, they don’t stand a chance. The wind picks them up, and carries them down the mountain.

Read Psalm 1:4. How does this illustration compare and contrast with the illustration of the life of the true believer?

While the true believer is firmly fixed in place, with deep roots and flourishing branches, the wicked weigh almost nothing. They are like chaff that is readily driven by the wind, or, I suppose you could say, they are like aspen tree seedings. They have no substance, no sustenance. And they are at the whim of the wind at every turn.

It’s important for you and me to understand who the “wicked” are in this verse. We understand the intention of the illustration for the “Ideal Israelite,” but we must also know whom the Psalmist has in mind when he writes about the life of the wicked. In order to do that, let’s do a short word study.

The word used here for “wicked” is the Hebrew word רָשָׁע (“raw-shaw”). And, while the word has some range of meaning, it is relatively specific in what it is referring to.

Look up the following verses where we see the word רָשָׁע used. Using the context of each verse as your guide, try to curate a definition for the word רָשָׁע:

Exodus 23:7

Numbers 35:31:

Deuteronomy 25:2:

2 Chronicles 19:2:

Job 8:22:

The word רָשָׁע connotes all those who do not follow God’s Laws, and even all those who have broken God’s commandments. The “wicked” in view here are not simply those whom you and I might call to mind – those who blatantly oppose God’s Word – but those who simply fail to live in the Law of God.

Put that understanding in context of Psalm 1:4. How does it help you understand Psalm 1?

Those who do not follow God’s Laws are unstable! They are like aspen tree bark that is carried around by the wind. They are like those who are not rooted, and they have no choice but to be carried along by the stronger forces around them. They have no sense of permanence and no way to anchor themselves. They are driven away by the wind.

Are there areas of disobedience or ungodliness that God is pointing out in your heart and life today?

Where might God call you to change and grow more in the likeness of the tree of righteousness, and less in the likeness of the chaff of the wicked?

Pray & Reflect:

Supplication: Ask God to change you. Ask God to reveal in your heart any area of sin or ungodliness. Ask Him to pull sin up by its roots in your heart.

Submission: Confess to God that you cannot do this on your own. Confess to Him that He alone is capable and able to change your heart and make you more like Him. Ask Him to help you submit to His Spirit’s conviction and to make you more like Himself.

Author: amygannett

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