The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.…
"The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree." We must, of course, consider this comparison as chiefly applicable to our adorable Redeemer, the King of Righteousness, and the Tree of Life. It must also have some relation and likeness to the character of every faithful servant of God.
I. THEIR USEFULNESS. "The extensive importance of this tree (says an Eastern traveller) is one of the most curious subjects to which a person can direct his attention. A considerable part of the inhabitants of Egypt, Arabia, and Persia, subsist almost entirely upon its fruit. They boast of its medicinal virtues. Their camels feed upon the date stone. From the leaves, they make a variety of articles for domestic use. From the fibres of the boughs, thread, ropes, and rigging are manufactured; from the sap is prepared a spirituous liquor; and the body of the tree furnishes fuel." However remiss individual Christians may be in the discharge of their duty, the natural tendency of religion is to make them "fruitful in every good work" (Colossians 1:10). Where are the homes for orphans? Where the hospitals for the sick? Where the asylums for the lunatic and the blind? These are the monuments of righteousness. These are founded by the Gospel of Christ. Who are the patient and painstaking teachers? Who are the first and foremost in carrying light and cultivation among savage tribes? Who are the peacemakers? Who are most ready to discharge their duties as citizens, and neighbours, and friends? Whose promises are the most solemnly and strictly kept? Whose principles are the source of the greatest benefit to mankind? The righteous — the children of God.
II. THEIR RESISTANCE TO EXTERNAL CALAMITIES. It is a remarkable fact, that the more you attempt to hinder the growth of this tree, by pressing it down with weights, by heaping stones and rubbish upon its roots, and by injuries to the bark, the stronger powers of resistance does it manifest: shooting up its straight and upright trunk a hundred feet and more. And even when the old stock has withered and decayed with age, and fallen prostrate to the ground, fresh sprouts spring vigorously from the roots; thus giving rise (as some have thought) to the fable of the Phoenix dying, and another rising from its ashes. When does the spiritual life of the righteous flourish best? Not when all hindrances and temptations are removed. Not when the skies are always bright, and the breezes soft and refreshing. Not when prosperity gathers about the Christian everything which heart can wish for. The soul is much more likely to rise upward, or assert its higher claims, when misfortunes, and ill-usage, and wrongs, are pressing heavily upon it. As the bodily strength is best developed and preserved by those inured to toil, and who boldly face the tempest and the cold, so is our inner life invigorated and prolonged by the roughnesses and afflictions which beset the good man's way.
III. THEIR DURATION. According to the report of naturalists, this tree is most productive from the thirtieth until the eightieth year, and continues to flourish for more than two centuries. At first thought, it might seem almost absurd to say, that the children of God live longer than those who serve the world, the flesh, and the devil. But the Bible certainly encourages this idea (Psalm 55:24; Proverbs 3:16; Psalm 91:14-16). Habits of regularity, and moderation, and self-restraint, which the rules of the Gospel require, do greatly contribute to the health and happiness of such as observe them. And who does not know that peace of conscience, the sense of sins forgiven, and of God's favourable regard, are more efficacious remedies for healing our infirmities than any which can possibly be devised?
(J. N. Norton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.