The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree - Very different from the wicked, Psalm 92:7, who are likened to grass. These shall have a short duration; but those shall have a long and useful life. They are compared also to the cedar of Lebanon, an incorruptible wood, and extremely long-lived. Mr. Maundrell, who visited those trees in 1697, describes them thus: "These noble trees grow among the snow, near the highest part of Lebanon. Some are very old, and of prodigious bulk. I measured one of the largest, and found it twelve yards six inches in girt, and yet sound; and thirty-seven yards in the spread of its boughs. At about five or six yards from the ground, it was divided into live limbs, each of which was equal to a large tree." Some of these trees are supposed to have lived upwards of one thousand years! The figure of the palm-tree gives us the idea of grandeur and usefulness. The fruit of the palm-tree makes a great part of the diet of the people of Arabia, part of Persia, and Upper Egypt. The stones are ground down for the camels; the leaves are made into baskets; the hard boughs, or rather strong leaves, some being six or eight feet in length, make fences; the juice makes arrack, the threads of the web-like integument between the leaves make ropes, and the rigging of small vessels; and the wood serves for slighter buildings and fire-wood. In short, the palm or date tree, and the olive, are two of the most excellent and useful productions of the forest or the field.
The cedar gives us the idea of majesty, stability. durableness, and incorruptibility. To these two trees, for the most obvious reasons, are the righteous compared. William Lithgow, who traveled through the holy land about a.d. 1600, describes the cedars of Mount Lebanon as "being in number twenty-four, growing after the manner of oaks, but a great deal taller straighter, and thicker, and the branches growing so straight, and interlocking, as though they were kept by art: and yet from the root to the top they bear no boughs, but grow straight and upwards like to a palm-tree. Their circle-spread tops do kiss or embrace the lower clouds, making their grandeur overlook the highest bodies of all other aspiring trees. The nature of this tree is, that it is always green, yielding an odoriferous smell, and an excellent kind of fruit, like unto apples, but of a sweeter taste, and more wholesome. The roots of some of these cedars are almost destroyed by the shepherds, who have made fires thereat, and holes where they sleep; yet nevertheless they flourish green above, in the tops and branches." - Lithgow's 17 years' Travels, 4th., London, 1640.
The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree - That is, the beauty, the erectness, the stateliness, the growth of the palm-tree - all this is an emblem of the condition, the prosperity, the happiness of a righteous man. The wicked shall be cut down; but the righteous shall flourish. This image - the comparison of a righteous man to a flourishing, majestic, green, and beautiful tree - is not uncommon in the Scriptures. See the notes at Psalm 1:3; compare Jeremiah 17:8. On the “palm-tree,” see the notes at Matthew 21:8. “The stem,” says Dr. Thomson (“land and the Book,” vol. i. p. 65)” tall, slender, and erect as Rectitude herself, suggests to the Arab poets many a symbol for their lady-love; and Solomon, long before them, has sung, ‹How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love! for delights; this thy stature is like the palm-tree.” Isaiah 2:13. The following remarks by Dr. Thomson (“land and the Book,” vol. i. pp. 292,295), with the accompanying cut, will show the propriety of the image here. “The platform where the cedars stand is more than six thousand feet above the Mediterranean, and around it are gathered the very tallest and grayest heads of Lebanon. The forest is not large - not more than five hundred trees, great and small, grouped irregularly on the sides of shallow ravines, which mark the birthplace of the Khadisha, or Holy River.
“But, though the space covered by them does not exceed half a dozen acres, yet, when fairly within the grove, and beneath the giant arms of those old patriarchs of a hundred generations, there comes a solemn hush upon the soul as if by enchantment. Precisely the same sort of magic spell settles on the spirits, no matter how often you repeat your visits. But it is most impressive in the night. Let us by all means arrange to sleep there. The universal silence is almost painful. The gray old towers of Lebanon, still as a stone, stand all around, holding up the stars of heaven to look at you, and the trees gather like phantoms about you, and wink knowingly, or seem to, and whisper among themselves you know not what. You become suspicious, nervous, until, broad awake, you find that it is nothing but the flickering of your drowsy fire, and the feeble flutter of bats among the boughs of the trees. A night among the cedars is never forgotten; the impressions, electrotyped, are hid away in the inner chamber of the soul, among her choicest treasures, to be visited a thousand times with never-failing delight.
“There is a singular discrepancy in the statements of travelers with regard to the number of trees. Some mention seven, others thirteen - intending, doubtless, only those whose age and size rendered them Biblical, or at least historical. It is not easy, however, to draw any such line of demarcation. There is a complete gradation from small and comparatively young to the very oldest patriarchs of the forest. I counted four hundred and forty-three, great and small, and this cannot be far from the true number. This, however, is not uniform. Some are struck down by lightning, broken by enormous loads of snow, or torn to fragments by tempests. Even the sacrilegious axe is sometimes lifted against them. But, on the other hand, young trees are constantly springing up from the roots of old ones, and from seeds of ripe cones. I have seen these infant cedars in thousands just springing from the soil; but as the grove is wholly unprotected, and greatly frequented both by human beings and animals, they are quickly destroyed. The fact, however, proves that the number might be increased “ad libitum.” Beyond a doubt, the whole of these upper terraces of Lebanon might again be covered with groves of this noble tree, and furnish timber enough not only for Solomon‘s Temple and the house of the forest of Lebanon, but for all the houses along this coast. But, unless a wiser and more provident government controls the country, such a result can never be realized, and, indeed, the whole forest will slowly die out under the dominion of the Arab and Turk. Even in that case the tree will not be lost. It has been propagated by the nut or seed in many parks in Europe, and there are more of them within fifty miles of London than on all Lebanon.
“We have seen larger trees every way, and much taller, on the banks of the Ohio, and the loftiest cedar might take shelter under the lowest branches of California‘s vegetable glories. Still, they are respectable trees. The girth of the largest is more than forty-one feet; the height of the highest may be one hundred. These largest, however, part into two or three only a few feet from the ground. Their age is very uncertain, nor are they more ready to reveal it than others who have an uneasy consciousness of length of days. Very different estimates have been made. Some of our missionary band, who have experience in such matters, and confidence in the results, have counted the “growths” (as we Western people call the annual concentric circles) for a few inches into the trunk of the oldest cedar, and from such data carry back its birth three thousand five hundred years. It may be so. They are carved full of names and dates, going back several generations, and the growth “since the earliest date” has been almost nothing. At this rate of increase they must have been growing ever since the Flood. But young trees enlarge far faster, so that my confidence in estimates made from such specimens is but small.” The idea in the passage before us is, that the righteous will flourish like the most luxuriant and majestic trees of the forest; they may be compared with the most grand and beautiful objects in nature.
The palm tree, beaten by the scorching sun and the fierce sandstorm, stands green and flourishing and fruitful in the midst of the desert. Its roots are fed by living springs. Its crown of verdure is seen afar over the parched, desolate plain; and the traveler, ready to die, urges his failing steps to the cool shade and the life-giving water. Ed 116.1
The tree of the desert is a symbol of what God means the life of His children in this world to be. They are to guide weary souls, full of unrest, and ready to perish in the desert of sin, to the living water. They are to point their fellow men to Him who gives the invitation, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” John 7:37. Ed 116.2
The wide, deep river, that offers a highway for the traffic and travel of nations, is valued as a world-wide benefit; but what of the little rills that help to form this noble stream? Were it not for them, the river would disappear. Upon them its very existence depends. So men called to lead in some great work are honored as if its success were due to them alone; but that success required the faithful co-operation of humbler workers almost without number—workers of whom the world knows nothing. Tasks uncommended, labor without recognition, is the lot of most of the world's toilers. And in such a lot many are filled with discontent. They feel that life is wasted. But the little rill that makes its noiseless way through grove and meadow, bearing health and fertility and beauty, is as useful in its way as the broad river. And in contributing to the river's life, it helps achieve that which alone it could never have accomplished. Ed 116.3Read in context »
The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Psalm 92:12. HP 240.1
See the weary traveler toiling over the hot sand of the desert, with no shelter to protect him from the rays of the tropical sun. His water supply fails, and he has nothing with which to slake his burning thirst. His tongue becomes swollen; he staggers like a drunken man. Visions of home and friends pass before his mind as he believes himself ready to perish. Suddenly he sees in the distance, rising out of the dreary sandy waste, a palm tree, green and flourishing. Hope quickens his pulses; he presses on, knowing that that which gives vigor and freshness to the palm tree will cool his fevered blood and give him renewed life. HP 240.2Read in context »
The Word of God not only sets forth the great principles of truth and duty which should govern our lives, but it presents also, for our encouragement, the history of many who have exemplified these principles.... Except the one perfect Pattern, there is not described in the Sacred Pages a single character more worthy of emulation than that of the prophet Daniel. Exposed in youth to all the allurements of a royal court, he became a man of unbending integrity and fervent devotion to God. He was subjected to the fierce temptations of Satan, yet his character was not vacillating, nor his course changeable. He was firm where many would be yielding; he was true where they would be false; he was strong where they would be weak. Daniel was a lofty cedar of Lebanon.... Would that the faith, integrity, and devotion of the prophet Daniel might live in the hearts of God's people of today. Never were these noble qualities more needed in the world than now.... OHC 249.2Read in context »
The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Psalm 92:12. OHC 331.1
The Christian is likened to the cedar of Lebanon. I have read that this tree does more than send down a few short roots into the yielding loam. It sends strong roots deep down into the earth, and strikes down farther and still farther in search of a still stronger hold. And in the fierce blast of the tempest, it stands firm, held by its network of cables beneath. OHC 331.2Read in context »