The God Squad: Short psalms for study: Psalm 1
3: The tree is the perfect metaphor for the life of the righteous in a wicked world. The tree has deep roots that seek out life giving water. A righteous person is rooted in faith which is hope. The tree metaphor is a bridge to these verses in the Book of Job (14:7-9), “For there is hope of a tree, that if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and its tender branches will not die. If its roots are old in the earth, even if the trunk dies in the ground, at the first scent of water it will bud and bring forth boughs like a plant.”
4: Another plant metaphor. During the ancient process of sifting and winnowing harvested wheat, the chaff is the outer husk of the wheat kernels that blows away in the wind allowing the heavier and nutritious wheat kernel to fall back into the basket. Such is the fate of evil. It is spiritually empty and so it cannot nourish us. It blows away because it has no moral fruits.
5: Like the chaff, the wicked cannot survive the judgment of their evil deeds. This judgment is not the judgment of God. What this verse implies is that in time the evil ones will be judged and rejected by their peers. Society will eventually cleanse itself of its predators.
6: God knows that the eventual triumph of goodness is a law of life. It is like the physical buoyancy that brings a cork to the surface of the water even if it is pushed down by a wave. So too, goodness will eventually triumph and evil will be judged to be nothing. This is not the consequence of God’s intervention, it is the result of God’s natural law that was woven into human existence at the Creation.
We must now ask the most important questions about God and faith in Psalm 1. Do you think any of this is true? Do you think that evil will eventually be overcome and righteousness triumph? There is so much evidence of perduring moral evil and so little evidence that as Martin Luther King Jr. believed that, “the universe arcs towards freedom.”
I believe in the ultimate triumph of goodness. I see so many examples of kindness and sacrifice, particularly in this last COVID-19 year. Such little acts of grace are not featured on the news, which is why the news is probably the last place you should look for faith. I think the world today is more healthy and more free and more hopeful than it has ever been in the history of our time here on planet earth. I believe this is from God and our natural goodness. I vote yes on Psalm 1.
(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at email@example.com. Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman.)
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