Don’t Be Like Grass on the Roof

By Mark D. Roberts

January 4, 2019

May they be like grass on the roof,
which withers before it can grow;
a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,
nor one who gathers fill his arms.

Psalm 129:6-7


Every now and then, as I read Scripture, a word or a phrase jumps out at me. Sometimes, this happens because the Spirit of God stirs in my mind. Sometimes, I am simply struck by the beauty or even the oddness of an expression.

Water droplets on leaves.As I was reading Psalm 129, the phrase “grass on the roof” caught my attention. That’s not something you hear every day. In ancient Israel, roofs of common homes were often made of beams and branches covered with thick mud. When the rains came, grass seeds embedded in the mud would sprout. But because its roots were shallow and its source of water temporary, the grass on the housetops wouldn’t thrive. It would wither and die even before it was fully grown.

I don’t want to be like grass on a rooftop, and neither do you. We surely don’t want to look as if we’re flourishing in life only to shrivel up and die. Rather, we want to be like the trees described in Psalm 1. They are planted along a riverbank, with roots burrowed deep into rich and well-watered soil. Thus, they bear fruit in season and their “leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (1:3).

How can we avoid being like grass on the roof? By letting our roots grow deep into the soil of God’s Word, by tasting the living water day after day. That’s why we publish these Life for Leaders devotions, by the way. We want to help you become like the trees of Psalm 1. We want you to flourish in all of life, including your work, and to thrive even in the dry times. Regular reading and reflection on Scripture will keep you from becoming grass on the roof.

Something to Think About:

What aspects of your life have been like grass on the roof?

What helps your roots to grow deeply so that you might live a fruitful life?

Something to Do:

New Year’s resolutions are frequently made and rarely kept. But, with God’s help and the help of your Christian community, you can choose to develop practices that will enable you to flourish. Perhaps you want to spend time each day in Scripture. If so, let me encourage you to share this resolution with your small group or with a friend who can help you to fulfill it.


Gracious God, I don’t want to be like “grass on the roof.” I don’t want to look good for a moment, only to wither away. I want my life to bear fruit for your kingdom, not just now, but for as long as I live.

So, help me, Lord, to let my roots grow deeply in your soil. May I be continually nurtured by your Word and watered by your Spirit. May I spend intentional, regular time with you so that I might be like the trees in Psalm 1, not the grass of Psalm 129. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Personal Integrity in Work (Psalm 1)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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