“Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalms 1:5-6 ESV)
We have seen in personal experience or in news reports the spectacle of a huge tree, uprooted and fallen in a storm. Although outwardly the tree appeared healthy and firmly rooted, inwardly the fallen tree was likely diseased, rotted, and dying. Its roots could not hold it upright in rain-saturated soil. It could not stand against dangerous winds and crashed to earth, causing damage to property and perhaps even loss of life. That, says the psalmist, is what will happen to the wicked—the unbelievers—on the Day of Judgment. They will not stand.
As he contrasts the righteous with the wicked, believers with unbelievers, the psalmist notes that the wicked—unrepentant sinners who reject the saving work of Christ—will not be found among “the congregation of the righteous” on the Last Day. Those who believe in Christ Jesus will stand in righteousness before God on the Day of Judgment. Now and on that great day, the righteous are like trees “planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3b ESV). They will not be condemned, because they stand in Christ Jesus, “rooted and built up in Him and established in faith” (Colossians 2:7a ESV).
“Rooted and built up in Him”—these words describe a life of faith that is growing and thriving in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus is our Source of life; He is the true Vine (see John 15:1). Apart from Jesus, we would be like trees that crash to the ground in a storm. Apart from Him, we would find ourselves eternally lost “in the way of the wicked.”
The Lord knows the way of the righteous because He set our feet on the path of righteousness, a way foretold by the prophet Isaiah: “A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it … the redeemed shall walk there” (Isaiah 35:8a, 9b ESV). That holy highway of faith stretches out before us because Jesus walked a terrible path for us, the way of the cross. Rooted in Christ Jesus, we walk by faith as we travel that holy, heaven-bound way.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus placed His healing hands on a blind man, who first responded with an unusual observation, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking” (Mark 8:24b ESV). Jesus laid hands on the man again and his sight was fully restored. This psalm presents people who look like trees walking. Rooted and built up in Christ, like trees planted by streams of water, we will stand on the Day of Judgment. Yet for now, we are on the move as we live to love and serve others in Jesus’ Name. We are like trees walking in the way of the Lord.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to walk in love, as You walked. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on February 7, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. How does your faith steady you against life’s trials and temptations?
2. What do you think it means that sinners will not stand in the congregation of the righteous?
3. How do you stay “rooted and built up” in God?