What does it mean to be like a tree planted by water (Psalm 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8)?

Psalm 1:1–3 says, "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." Similarly, Jeremiah 17:7–8 says, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." Trees need water to survive and thrive—being planted by water means having continual access to this life source. Trees planted by water grow to be strong and fruitful; they survive even in seasons of drought. The image of a tree planted by water, then, is one of free access to lifegiving resources, abundance, strength, and protection against dangers.

In both Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17, the faithful person is compared to trees planted by water. This is the person who avoids sinful influences and participation with those who are against God, instead delighting in God's Word. It is the person who trusts in the Lord. Both passages contrast such a person with those who reject God. Psalm 1:4 says that "The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away." Jeremiah 17:5–6 says, "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land." While the follower of God is described as being like a fruitful tree near water, those who reject God are like chaff or dried shrubs.

Note that those who are like trees planted by water are those who delight in God's Word and trust in Him. He is the source of life. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, "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 4:14). John 7 talks about Jesus' attendance of the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem. John writes, "On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."' Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37–39).

Those who have put their faith in Christ have eternal life in Him and have received the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3–14). When we yield to the work of the Spirit in our lives (Philippians 2:12–13), our lives are characterized by His fruit (Galatians 5:22–23). In that way, we are like trees planted by water, yielding fruit.

Note that there is a role for us to play in this. The man in Psalm 1 does not participate in sin and he avoids the counsel of those entrenched in sinful ways. He delights in God's law. For us, that looks like immersing ourselves in God's Word (the Bible) so that we can better know Him. It also looks like obeying His Word (James 1:22). The man in Jeremiah 17 trusts in the Lord. The more we know God, the more we trust Him. When our trust is in Him, we can live at peace (Philippians 4:4–8; Hebrews 13:5–8; 1 Peter 5:6–7).

Living God's way does not guarantee an easy life. Seasons of drought inevitably come, yet trees planted by water need not fear them. Jesus warned, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Paul wrote, "all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). However, we know that this world is not ultimately our home (Philippians 3:20–21). We can rejoice in our sufferings, knowing God uses them (James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 1:3–9). We can "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might" (Ephesians 6:10) and put on His armor. Romans 8:28–30 encourages, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."

When we are in Christ, we can be like a tree planted by water, seeing the fruit of His work in our lives and not fearing hardship because we are permanently connected to Him who is the source of all life. The fruit He produces in our lives can benefit others and draw them to Him (Matthew 5:13–16; John 13:34–35). Knowing that our lives are "hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3), we can live as faithful ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20–21), abiding in Christ (John 15:1–17), loving others (Romans 13:8; James 2:8), sharing His truth (Matthew 28:18–20; Ephesians 4:15; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 3:15), rejoicing in Him (Philippians 4:4), thanking Him for this life (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and eagerly awaiting the day we are with Him (Philippians 1:21–24; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 22:20).

Related Truth:

What is meant by bearing fruit? How can a Christian bear fruit?

How can I come to really know God?

What does it mean to be doers of the Word in James 1:22?

What does "feet like a deer" mean in the Bible (Psalm 18; Habakkuk 3:19)?

In Ecclesiastes 3:11, what does it mean that 'He has made everything beautiful in its time'?

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