and its leaf does not wither.
Psalm 1:3 ESV
As we continue to meditate through Psalm 1, we reach the third and final metaphorical description of the blessed man’ tree-likeness: and its leaf does not wither. As we have seen, the comparison of God’s people to a tree is meant to convey steadfastness that, although it begins small and grows slowly, becomes large and mighty in the end. To this end, the previous phrases have described the tree’s source of growth (streams of water) and its fruitfulness in season. Now the psalmist describes the endurance of the tree through its unwithered leaves.
Interestingly, our association of trees with fortitude is typically centered upon trees’ trunks. The trunk, after all, is the largest, strongest portion of a tree. The psalmist, however, does not describe an unbroken trunk as a metaphor for the endurance and perseverance of God’s people; instead, he turns to the leaves, which are quite easily the most fragile part of a tree. Indeed, every year winter’s winds shrivel tree’s leaves until the fall to the earth dead. Of course, in warmer places, the great heat of the summer can do the same, which is likely what the psalmist had in mind. The sun can burn so powerfully that only the most deeply rooted trees can keep their leaves green during its scorching heat.
In the same way, 1 Peter 4:12 warns us against being “surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Just as our Lord suffered in our place, so too will we be called upon to suffer alongside Him. Blistering summers and frozen winters are not withheld from those who belong to Christ. Even so, the leaves of God’s forest will not wither.
Charles Spurgeon once fittingly wrote: “The Lord’s trees are all evergreens. No winter’s cold can destroy their verdure; and yet, unlike evergreens in our country, they are all fruit bearers.” Each season will bring its own variety and quantity fruit in the life of a Christian, yet throughout each season, the blessed man’s leaves remain green. He is rooted beside streams that do not run dry, which keep his leaves unwithered.
Christian, do you remain unwithered by the winds of adversity, or are you like the seed that fell upon rocky soil that withered away under the scorching sun because it had no root (Mark 4:5-6)? Let us plant ourselves in Him who alone will bring us to “completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6), for apart from this steam of divine grace none of us can endure till the end.