Psalm 1

He is like a tree
planted near streams of water,

that yields its fruit in season

Such is the man who “does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the company with scoffers.” A man who delights in the law of the Lord, “and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Patience, is a motif here—or, more aptly, diligence or perseverance. We read that the fruit that is yielded is not immediate, but rather it is produced “in season.” When is this season for harvest? When Jesus spoke of a harvest, it was in reference to the “end of the age.” But I think we may be allowed to read this not in an exclusively eschatological light, but rather understanding that the fruit yielded from the labor of righteousness comes intermittently, in various “seasons”.

 

We are not to despair when the the fruit is lacking, but we are to wait, and to continue working.

The second half of the psalm echoes this motif focusing on the wicked,

“But not so are the wicked! They are like chaff driven by the wind…”

The image here of chaff, of something light being caught up into the daily shifting winds, is an image of idleness, of “flightiness,” characterized by submitting to the whims of fancy. It is a damnable evil, but one less severe than others (such as deceit or malice), one found in the likes of Dante’s 5th canto where the lustful are caught up in the powerful winds in the second circle of hell.

We find then that the first Psalm is fitting as ordered — it readies the one willing to pursue righteousness, telling him to be prepared to wait and continue in labor (persevere) until the time of harvest.

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