How to Prosper

Psalm 1:3

Mike Johnson


Psalm 1:1-2 points out how that the person who will be blessed by God does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly; he does not stand in the path of sinners, and he does not sit in the seat of the scornful.  Instead, he delights in the Law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night.  Verse 3 then says, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”  Thus, not doing what verse 1 says and doing what verse 2 identifies leads to the results given in verse 3.  Here we see the blessed person compared to a beautiful tree planted by the “rivers of water,” making it healthy and fruitful.  Since the tree always has a ready supply of water, it will not wither, and when it comes time for fruit, it will be bountiful.

Various passages compare the righteous to a healthy and productive tree.  Jeremiah 17:8 points out the person who trusts in the Lord, “…shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”  Psalm 92:12 says, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”

In 3b, the Psalmist says, “Whatever he does shall prosper.”  He has been speaking figuratively, but now he goes from the figure of the healthy tree to the person represented, i.e. godly people will prosper in whatever they do.

In what sense will the righteous prosper?  It is common for righteous people to prosper materially, having been blessed by God, but Christians also face hardships (as noted earlier), and perhaps even financial difficulties.  His prosperity is not intended to primarily be in a physical sense but, instead, in a spiritual sense. Consider I Timothy 4:8 which says, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  He will spiritually prosper, living a fulfilled life, as God’s Word is the center of his existence (v. 2).