By Streams of Water | Psalm 1:3

planted by streams of water

Psalm 1:3 ESV

Verse 3, as noted previously, is the psalmist’s continued description of the blessed man. Through the metaphorical imagery of a tree, he is able to give us vivid conception of the stable and steady growth of him in whom the LORD delights. This verse then builds upon that figure of speech with three modifying descriptions: 1) planted by streams of water, 2) that yields its fruit in its season, and 3) and its leaf does not wither. Let us meditate here upon the first one.

What is the significance of a tree being planted by streams of water? Last week we read in Jeremiah 17’s parallel text that the cursed man “is like a shrub in the desert… he shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited land” (v. 6). The desert is an uninhabited place precisely because it is without water. We rightly find it remarkable that any plants survive in the desert at all, but they are certainly not what we turn to for pictures of joy and prosperity. Indeed, Egypt is a splendid example, for its large stretches of desert are barren also of many people, while civilizations have existed along the banks of the Nile for millennia. Water sustains life. A shrub in the desert may be surviving, but it is not thriving. A tree planted by a secure source of water is a picture of stability and sustainability.

What then are the streams of water that we are to be rooted beside? When speaking with the woman at the well, Jesus compared Himself to the water of the well, saying, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). Just as water sustains life, Jesus Himself is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) and knowing Him is eternal life (John 17:3). He is the fountain of life, guiding and sustaining us in Himself, as we remember each week at the Lord’s Table.

But how are we planted the stream of Christ? We draw near to Christ, the incarnate Word of God, through His Scriptures, the written Word of God. Did not Jesus tell the crowds that the Scriptures testified to Him (John 5:39-40)? Thus, the picture of tree planted by streams of water is same as delighting in God’s law and meditating day and night upon it.

Christian, if you do not delight in and meditate upon God’s Word, you are planting yourself in a parched, desert land. You are depriving yourself of the stream of living water granted to you by our triune God. Plant yourself, therefore, beside this stream, and drink deeply each day.


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