“whatever he does prospers” Psalm 1:3
Look, I may be wrong. Maybe I’m taking an English prof’s tack here and over-interpreting everything. Maybe David the King is just remembering his shepherding days and drawing his metaphors from the warp and woof of his agricultural boyhood. Maybe the promise of “fruit in season” is simply the joy of a quiver full of kids. Maybe “leaves that don’t wither” implies nothing more than knees that don’t buckle. Simple stuff. We’re really talking about some ordinary shepherd here, and I’m overanalyzing.
Look at this line: “whatever he does prospers.” Now there’s a line that doesn’t need a dime’s worth of interpretation. To be blessed, the psalm suggests, means that every last endeavor will succeed beyond our wildest dreams, a truly American Dream line that requires no sophist wizardry. If we obey God’s law and don’t hang around with sinners, the Bible says we’ll get everything we’re dreaming of. There’s a promise you can take to the bank.
Maybe. Maybe not. What does he mean by prosper?
Two hundred years ago, not far from where I live the great American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the Voyage of Discovery up the great Missouri River, looking for an overland passage to the Pacific Ocean. I love the yarn and admire the pluck and sheer human will of those thirty men. I’m a fan.
But picture this for a minute. Meriwether Lewis carried a branding iron with his own name in the design. He used it to mark trees. Can you imagine what Native people thought of him stepping up to a big cottonwood, laying a hot brand on the bark, and saying that tree was now
property? U. S.
Or how about this? An equally significant objective of the mission was to wrest trade with the Indians away from the French, to consolidate the work of the tribes out west, and to secure an American peace in the newly acquired frontier west. But not long after they returned, Hidatsas went after the Shoshonis, the Arikaras and the Sioux raided the
. There was no peace. Just a few decades later, disease wiped out
thousands, disease carried by white people. Mandans
Did the expedition “prosper”? Well, of course, in a way. But the successes they desired weren’t exactly what they achieved. They never did find that overland route.
“It is not outward prosperity which the Christian most desires and values,” writes the old sage Spurgeon about this line from Psalm 1; “it is soul prosperity he longs for.”
Soul prosperity. A certain largesse of character. A loving spirit. An unflinching generousness. Peace. A deep comfort with God’s designs, and, most treasured, a smile for eternity.
Whatever he or she does prospers. It is that simple, I guess: but the shepherd isn’t talking about Vegas.
Soul prosperity. Whatever that is, it is truly what we’re all after, isn’t it?