Bible art journaling has become quite a popular pursuit. Search for anything remotely related on Pinterest or Instagram and you’ll come up with a myriad of lovely pieces done by clearly talented artists. I’ve never been much of an artist myself, but I am definitely a visual learner. My brain works in pictures and processes best, remembers best with some kind of image attached. So when I came across Bible art journaling, I was instantly intrigued. With God’s word, there are often depths of meaning that, to me, could be expressed and explained so well in pictures. As I started exploring the idea more, I found that, while my drawings were far from perfect, the words they represented— the concepts I’d learned about and then converted to doodles on paper— stuck with me. They were hidden in my heart so much better than my usual methods. How thrilling! This is the goal of Come Fill Your Cup’s new feature, Illuminations.
Each month, we’ll study a passage of scripture together. I’ll illustrate it in my style, from a beginner’s perspective, and Lauren Basham will illustrate it as an experienced (and talented!) Bible art journaler. And that’s where YOU come in! We want to challenge you to illustrate a portion of the passage too! Use #CFYCilluminations so we can see your creations. Exploring the scriptures deeply, then using art to really engrave the passages on your heart can be a great boon to becoming truly rooted in God’s word (which, incidentally, is our theme this year! Okay… you’re right… that’s not incidentally. Totally planned that). We’re really excited about this year and focusing on writing God’s word on our hearts, utilizing different methods, techniques and tools to grow deeply, closely, ever more toward God and godliness.
So, without further ado, let’s dig into our first passage, Psalm one!
Psalm one describes a blessed man. He is like a tree firmly planted, fruitful, non-withering, one who prospers in all he does. In contrast, the wicked are like chaff blown by the wind, cannot stand in front of God, and destined to perish. Psalms, classified as one of the Bible’s wisdom books, frequently differentiates the way of the wicked from the way of the righteous, but does not offer a third option. Indeed, none of scripture offers a third option: there is God’s way, and… not-God’s-way. We have the opportunity to choose. In a sense, Psalm one boils it all down for us, the whole message of scripture summed up in a simple, cost-benefit analysis.
“Blessed” is a word also translated “happy.” Verse one gives us three things this blessed man does not do. Each is a shade of meaning of the other, added for emphasis and poetry. The import is not on the minutiae, but on the whole. The message is that this man’s advice, plans, behaviors—his way in general— does not come from those who have chosen to walk contrary to God. Instead, his instruction, even his joy is in God’s word. It is what he counts as precious, what he ponders on and dwells on. “Meditate” in the original language is a word that means to mutter or coo. It draws to my mind the classic grumpy old man, who goes about stooped and continually grumbling under his breath. What is he growling about? Perhaps wrongs done him, grievances of the past, irritations of the present, “kids these days” and “back in my day…” His thoughts are so consumed with these that he mutters over and over about them to himself and any who pass by. The blessed man likewise “mutters” to himself, but it is not grievances or wrongs that his mind dwells on; rather it is God’s word. Just as the old man’s grumpiness only deepens with his grumbling, the blessed man’s love and delight in God’s word grows as he goes over and over the law he has dedicated himself to. By the way, no worries— it’s a figurative muttering. No need to go about talking to yourself.
Because God’s law— His instruction, teaching, direction, rule— is the blessed man’s joy, he is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water. Now, I come from Colorado. You may envision mountains, skiing and blue skies, and all that is true, but there is also the vast plains of Eastern Colorado, where my sweet husband is from. On the plains, the trees are scarce and sparse, thin and spindly… except where there is water. Along irrigation ditches and canals, along the few rivers, there are giant cottonwoods. Their bark is thick, their roots are deep, their shade is an oasis of comfort. In the fall these trees send out white, downy puffs with tiny seeds attached. In a stark landscape, these giants of the plains can be seen for miles. From one season to the next, they stand. Winter brings blowing mounds of snow, spring sees torrents of runoff from the distant mountains, summers can be downright scorching, yet even in “Tornado Alley,” these trees typically live 70-100 years. This is the righteous man of Psalm one.
By contrast, the wicked are like chaff. Chaff is what is left over after the grain has been harvested. It’s the little scaly, papery hull or husk that protects the grain as it grows. It’s sometimes used as a component in livestock fodder, but it is largely useless, and an irritation besides. Scripture uses chaff to describe something insubstantial, weak, useless. It blows away in a breeze and is fated to be burned up (see Hosea 13:3, Matthew 3:12).
The final two verses of the psalm put aside metaphor and analogy for straight spiritual truth. Come Judgment Day, those in the wrong, those who bear blame, will not stand. Amidst those who are innocent and just, who bear no guilt before God, the wicked cannot even rise up. Their shame finally comes upon them, and their doom is clear. Like the chaff, they are destined for ruin. The righteous, though, just as his efforts have prospered, so is he in judgment. The Lord knows his way. That is, He approves of, or has regard for his way. He looks on with a nod of esteem, and a pat on the back.
The first psalm paints us a picture of two kinds of people: the wicked and the righteous. There are only two; indeed, in all of scripture, there are only ever two. We must choose which path we will tread, which person we will imitate. The choice seems obvious, but the work to make the choice day in and day out can be hard to maintain. Psalm 119 acclaims God’s word again and again. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” Engraving God’s word deeply is our best tool in staying the path that will lead away from doom and toward God. Art is just one of the ways to dwell on and keep God’s precious law close to your heart. It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or a stick figure struggler. The product isn’t the point; the exercise, the effort, the process— that is the point. So get out some colored pencils, borrow your kid’s markers and crayons and give it a shot!
Don’t forget to share with us. We promise not to throw rotten tomatoes. Use #CFYCilluminations so we can find your creations. Follow us on all your favorite social media sites including Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see all our latest, and remember to subscribe for weekly email updates, too!