What enables you to bear fruit for God?
Psalm 92 is a song for the sabbath day, and is the only psalm assigned to a particular day of the week. Since I am a pastor who works on Sunday and takes his sabbath on Wednesday, reading this psalm on a weekday is perfect for me!
The psalm begins by lifting up some of the distinctive activities of the day of rest: Giving thanks to the LORD, singing praises to the Most High’s name, proclaiming God’s “loyal love” in the morning and God’s faithfulness at night (Psalm 92:1-2). Of course, the worship of God can happen any day, in any time and place. If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that worship can be done online and at home, any day of the week.
The psalmist goes on to describe the kind of people who are in a right relationship with God, using the image of stately trees to illustrate their uprightness. “The righteous will spring up like a palm tree. They will grow strong like a cedar of Lebanon” (verse 12). The psalmist suggests that they are rooted in the worship life of the temple by describing them as people “who have been replanted in the LORD’s house” (verse 13).
Such people are happy and healthy, and their vigor and vitality is captured in the verse, “They will bear fruit even when old and gray; they will remain lush and fresh” (verse 14) — an image that should bring a smile to the face of any faithful senior citizen!
So, how can we be lush, fresh and fruitful for God? Sabbath-keeping is essential, whether we do it on a Sunday or on a Wednesday. The key is to break away from work and engage in hobbies, sports or artistic activities (sabbath is related to the Hebrew verb meaning “to cease, stop, interrupt”). There is a communal aspect to sabbath-keeping as well, as people find refreshment in shared meals and open-ended conversations.
My own sabbath practice is to go on a long bike ride. My thinking becomes unstructured as I ride along a wooded trail, the stress melting away and solutions to knotty problems popping into my mind. In this activity, I feel refreshed, renewed, and close to God. Cycling is my way of keeping the sabbath and becoming more fruitful as a follower of Christ.
In the end, Psalm 92 is a song that brings glory to God. The psalm focuses on God’s supreme power and authority, saying that God’s people remain lush and fresh in order to proclaim: “The LORD is righteous. He’s my rock. There’s nothing unrighteous in him” (verse 15). On the sabbath day and every day, the psalm reminds us of the first lines of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which say that the chief end of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy God forever. When we do this, we are bearing good fruit for God.
Lord of the sabbath, help me to take a break and grow closer to you. Amen.