Do you prosper in all that you do? I mean, really. Some will tell you that you have to say it and believe it before it actually happens. But I’m asking you to be honest and answer the question relatively to your existence now. In your life right now, are you prosperous?
You should wonder to yourself, “What do you mean by ‘prosperous’?” This is a good question – especially in our day and time. Depending on who you hear and believe, prosperity can mean a lot of things. To some, prosperity is an ever-increasing amount of earthly success. It is measured by your earnings and would certainly include your bodily health.
However, this is not what I mean. I’m referring to the prosperity that God is concerned about. He is not a respecter of earthly things. Rather, being prosperous in God’s mind is something much different and therefore measured by other standards. The writer of the the first Psalm says this:
“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. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
The text to which I draw your attention is right in the middle of the chapter. It reads, “In all that he does, he prospers” (Ps. 1:3). You might have heard this phrase from many mouths. In my experience, I tend to hear it with reference to the prior definition of prosperity – the one I described first. I tend to hear people pour into this phrase the riches of the world and bodily well-being. In other words, they say “in absolutely all that you do, you will be prosperous.” And while saying it, the give you the context of the world – homes, money, cars, friendships, health and more.
By doing so, these people teach a false sense of prosperity. This is because they falsely qualify the words “all” and “prosperous” rather than allow the context to do so. A quick reading of the chapter helps us put this idea into perspective. Let’s do that now.
To begin with, notice that our subject is a comparison of the “blessed” and the “wicked.” The blessed are identified by not orienting themselves to the wicked, sinners, and scoffers (Ps. 1:1). Rather, they delight and meditated on God’s law (Ps. 1:2). This is to say that they do not grow wise off of the world, but wise off of the Bible. The wicked are identified as chaff that is blown around by the wind. They are loose and unstable, not rooted in truth (Ps. 1:4). Their way is wrong. But the way of the righteous is known by God (Ps. 1:6).
The righteous have a way and the wicked have a way. This way leads to prosperity or destruction (Ps. 1:3, 6). It is also described as being a way that is trained by God’s law or worldly wisdom (Ps. 1:2, 4). For this reason, the psalmist has the illustration of a tree planted by streams of water. Here, we find the immediate context of the phrase “in all that he does, he prospers.”
First, notice that this illustration begins directly after the passage describing the blessed man. He does not walk “in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” (Ps. 1:1). Rather, he “delights in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2). The psalmist is describing the intake of the person. It is speaking to what the blessed man drinks in. Is it living water?
Then, to carry his point further, he employs the illustration of a tree planted by streams of water (Ps. 1:3). We should note that the tree is “planted” and not wandering. It is also planted near “water” in order that it can take in what it needs to live and take it in consistently, as noted by the word “streams.” This illustrates the way that the blessed man meditates and delights in the law of the Lord. He does so “day and night” (Ps. 1:2). It is never-ending. The streams of God’s law are continuous and never dry up.
Therefore, the tree that is planted by streams of water yields fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. In other words, the tree does what it is designed to do. It bears fruit for other to eat. It grows healthy and brings a wealth of fruit to all. Then, the writer says, “In all that he does, he prospers.”
The tree is referred to as “he” this time instead of “it.” We are to understand the tree as the blessed man. When he is planted in the law of the Lord, meditating and delighting day and night, he bears godly fruit and is useful to the Kingdom. He called prosperous in “all that he does.” What he does is yield fruit. So, he is prosperous at yielding fruit.
The question is not what prosperity is, but what fruit is. What is the purpose of the blessed man? What is the righteous made to do? The immediate answer is to delight in and meditate on the law. Being prosperous is primarily learning and growing in God’s word. There is no reference to world except in the context of the terms counsel of the wicked, way of the sinners, seat of the scoffers, chaff that the wind drives away, not standing in the judgment, not standing in the congregation of the righteous, and perishing.
So, again we should set our minds to the question: Are you prosperous? Do you prosper in all that you do? In light of Psalm 1 we could ask, “In all of your doings, are you bearing godly fruit? This is the what the psalmist means by the phrase, “In all that he does, he prospers.”