I will be as the dew to Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.…
These words follow immediately the healing of the backsliding and the proclamation of God's free love. With us the dew is little noticed. We look to the clouds to supply all that grows upon the earth with sufficient moisture. In Judaea the great heat and little rain make the dew as important as it is beautiful. Three circumstances render the dew a peculiarly appropriate symbol of God's sustaining care for His .people.
1. The dew falls regularly, in summer as in winter, in autumn as in spring.
2. It comes quietly in the night, when no one perceives its advent.
3. There is a mystery connected with it, — at least in popular thought. Thus watered from on high, Israel "shall grow as the lily (or blossom)." With the lily is associated the idea of purity. The tall lily, elegant in shape, gorgeous in colouring, prolific in growth, sending forth leaves and flowers freely, forms a choice emblem of Christian beauty and fertility. But the lily is extremely fragile and short-lived. Another comparison must exhibit Israel s strength and stability. What type can better set forth firmness than the cedar of Lebanon! It retains its vigour for centuries. The roots clasp themselves around the rock, and therefore the tree stands unshaken. So the Christian is strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. "His branches shall spread." The flourishing tree sends out new suckers continually, which take root, and themselves grow into trees, to repeat the process again and again. Israel multiplies as well as grows. "His beauty shall be as the olive-tree." To an Oriental eye the olive-tree is actually beautiful. To us it is an emblem of usefulness. The very character of a true Christian renders him useful. He is ever ready to render to all men kindly service and help. "His smell as Lebanon." Travellers say that the smell of Lebanon extends to a considerable distance from its mountains and valleys, owing partly to its cedars and partly to various sweet-smelling plants which are produced profusely. The metaphor may illustrate the influence exerted by the Christian ceaselessly and often unconsciously. "They that dwell under his shadow shall return." The figure represents Israel as a widespreading umbrageous tree. It may refer to the protection the Church affords. Or it may allude to the teaching and instructing power of the Church. "They shall revive as the corn." Even prosperous Israel may have his seasons of depression and apparent feebleness. The green stalk of corn may lie seemingly lifeless upon the parched earth, stricken by the sun. But the night mists and morning dew enwrap it, so that it drinks in the blessed moisture, and once more it erects its head and recovers its greenness. Thus tribulation, or persecution, or the assaults of insidious sin may render the Christian feeble, and may cause him to fall; but the dew of Divine grace descends upon him. He who restoreth the soul vouchsafes His Holy Spirit to him, and again he rises strong in humility and trust. Through the merciful communications of God to him he may revive when his disease seems desperate and recovery hopeless. "And grow as the vine." The preceding metaphors imply power to stand alone. The vine must lean on something else. And the Christian must ever rely on a strength beyond his own. "The scent (memorial) thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon." Travellers speak enthusiastically of the manifold virtues of the wine of Lebanon, of its invigorating qualities, etc. Can a more appropriate illustration be conceived of the abiding influence of a Christian's life, example, work after he has left this world? His memory is an inspiration. His good deeds live after him.
(J. Robinson Gregory.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.