I have this book recently acquired from Settle Market with lists of Proverbs Old and New with explanations, derivations and other assorted bits of data. Fascinating.
And there, on page 34 were two sayings, handily juxtaposed to form a kind of weird counterpoint. First, ”Footloose and Fancy Free,” and then “Stuck in the Mud.”
For the sake of non-native English speakers, I will explain.
The phrase “stuck in the mud.” means stubborn, unwilling (and possibly unable) to move forwards and try new things. It denotes one who is stuck in the old ways of doing things. Immoveable.
The other phrase, “Footloose and fancy free” means being able to glide and flow with the breeze and go wherever the mood or fancy takes you.
In Psalm 1 there is a different take on both premises. It’s as if the writer turns both phrases on their head and forces you to see the positive side of our negative phrase, and the negative side of our etc.
Here it is:
Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.
But not the wicked!
They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,
but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
Oh the joy of those who know they are planted and rooted.
Yes, it’s wrong to be stuck in the mud, but it is “blessed” to be planted and rooted. It’s the only way that you bear fruit.
Yes, it’s good to flow with the breeze, -“The wind blows where it wishes”, right? But the moving and the stirring of the Spirit (to which that phrase in John 3 refers) is nothing to do with being aimless, unpurposive and undirected. God is always intentional.
I was praying the other day for this lovely young couple celebrating their first five years of marriage. I was thinking of God’s blessing on their lives and how linked it was to their sense of being rooted and planted in each other’s lives. Invested, committed.
Psalm 1 is unambiguous. ”Not so the wicked, they are like chaff.” Chaff is worthless. It has nothing to do with fruit. It is separated from the good stuff and thrown to the wind. It’s unimportant, fruitless, worthless, unattached.
But when you truly delight in the law of the Lord, and ponder God’s word on your life, then he plants and roots you, so that you bear fruit that lasts, so that you bear fruit each season; so that your leaves never wither, and so that you prosper in all you do.
And “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:8).
Stick at it. Don’t give up. He has put you in place, and His desire is to plant and root you, to prosper you, for His own glory.