Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree…
This is the predicted result of the things that are described and promised in the former part of the chapter.
I. THE NECESSARY GROWTH. The human soul will grow. It will put forth from its soil and substance natural and moral products of some kind. There may be thorn and briar, or there may be fir tree and myrtle tree, but there will be something. There are no responsible human souls absolutely barren. There seems to be a certain amount of force in the human soul — a certain amount of what may be called organic vitality, which will be out into forms and habits, speech and behaviour, character and life; and you cannot keep it down, do what you will.
II. THE FIRST CROP IS THE THORN AND BRIAR. These are indigenous to the soil; the things that will appear if nothing is done. Our state is so depraved that evil principles, affections and habits will take priority of anything good that may be left in us. Our views of sin will affect our views of almost everything else.
III. THERE IS A SECOND CROP. These trees are taken, apparently, AS EMBLEMS OF THE BETTER LIFE, ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR GREAT BEAUTY AND USEFULNESS. We find the fir tree very often used by the sacred writers, with the cedar. Thus — "The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters are fir." Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, "I will do all thou desirest concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir." "Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon." Indeed, some think that the tree here mentioned, called the fir tree, was the cedar, and some think it was the cypress. Probably the word is generic, and has reference to trees of that kind. Trees, like the cypress and cedar, were grand to the sight and refreshing to the traveller who stood under their shadow; and the wood of them was so hard and excellent that it was much used for the building of temples, for ships, for musical instruments, for lances to be used in war, and even for statues, on account of its great durability. We see the idea here suggested. What is strong, useful, beautiful, takes the place of what is prickly, useless, wasteful. A change like that in a landscape would be an emblem of what takes place in a human soul and life, when a natural man becomes a spiritual man. In a well-tilled Gospel field we should not see much of a thorn and briar from the very first. In family gardens they should not be suffered to grow — at least, every endeavour should be made to prevent it, and to rear the fir tree and the myrtle tree, and to draw out unto them the strength which otherwise will certainly go to nourish the hurtful and wasteful things. It is to be feared that some Christians, parents and others, have radically erroneous conceptions on this point. They hold the doctrine of natural depravity shelteringly, almost lovingly, the same almost as if they held it to be their duty to draw out that depravity in order to prove it. Certainly these thorns and briars will grow up if we let them, but instead of them let us have the fir tree and the myrtle tree so early and so fully that we shall never see the former at all.
IV. THE PERPETUAL BEAUTY. That must be beautiful and good which the Lord takes for a name, and regarding which He says, "Let Me be known by it." It is so even now. When God speaks of Himself He does not point to His name up amid the stars — systems and fields of wide illimitable space. He does not speak of earthquakes and violence; of majestic clouds, and stormy seas. He points to His new-born children — who bear His image, who reflect His glory-whose souls enshrine His awful name — who are set for ever to be the praise of the glory of His grace, "for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." The Gospel even in this world is an indestructible thing. It is erecting signs of its power far more enduring than the pictures of the learned and the statues of the brave.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.