In the South Carolina low country, there are marshes and rivers and ponds, lined with haunting moss-draped live oaks from which Dogwood trees peak out like little girls in brightly colored party dresses. At first glance, it’s just a beautiful garden. Strolling along the pathways, however, the lives of people with titles like “Enslaved Africans, Overseer, Owner” unfold as you walk through the restored rice plantation. As you follow the garden walkways the story of the founding couple is woven through acres like the vines that cling to trees framing the canals; two people who loved the land, art, writing, and history had a vision to preserve something of great value. The garden is a collection of what caused their hearts to sing and all they treasured.
The Psalms are deeply personal, yet mean to be sung corporately. They often give voice to what can not find expression within our own limits. Understand the meaning of the basic facts gives us a glimpse to why these treasures have been preserved for us to enter into.
What does it mean to be “blessed?” ~ showered with favor from the Lord; in it’s Latin form, the word “beatus” is the same that gives us the word for “beattitude” in the Sermon on the Mount of Matt. 5:3-11. The Greek equivalent of the original Hebrew word means “blessed,” and it’s the same word used in James 1:12, where the we find, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Sometimes the smallest things in the garden give me the most awe, and words are no different. The word for “man” refers to a “specific person,” meaning this is the example of a specific person to be followed. In Hebrew it’s literally “the man.” This is the example we are called to follow, that of “the blessed man.”
This man – this blessed one – resists moving with, stopping with, and staying with those who reject the instruction of God. He embraces God’s truth and focuses on it consistently. To “meditate” on the law has the idea of “active pondering.” This is not sitting uselessly, staring into space, emptying our minds. Instead, it is repeatedly remembering, thinking with focus, calling to mind again, staying with one thought, considering carefully …. While our world rushes on to the next idea, gets a “short link,” abbreviates, and flags for reading another time, meditating is making a decision to spend extended time resting in one place of truth until it soaks in and takes root.
Little things say so much. When verse 6 tells us the Lord “knows the way of the righteous,” it means He looks with affection, approval, and preference on the righteous man. It’s quite a contrast with the wicked man who will perish. People are and will be known by God. People do and will perish. God doesn’t want to keep us from discovering the truth of what makes the difference. He invites us to step inside the gateway and understand.
Tomorrow … the tree and the chaff … and me. Will you come with me?
It’s just a little further inside the garden gate.