The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.…
What is there about the palm-tree which would suggest its employment as a figure to describe a righteous man? Let the reader remember where it grows, and he will see. As often as not it grows in the desert. In its own home it is the noblest product of the vegetable world. It lives to a great age, and the older it grows the better its fruit becomes. It often marks the one spot in the desert where water can be found. Other vegetation can spring up under its shadow; it provides food and shelter for the weary and travel-worn. Now let us apply the analogy to our Christian life. In the first place, we may regard the palm-tree as a type of strength. Christian character ought to be stronger than native self-sufficiency, wherever found. Growth in holiness means breaking away little by little from dependence upon the good things of this life. Though rooted in earth we rise higher and higher to breathe the free air of heaven. Health, riches, success, power, fame, should all be held loosely. They are God's gifts, to be used for His glory, but Christian character should be independent of their presence or absence. They may add to the brightness or interest of life, but if they take to themselves wings and fly away, faith should remain uninjured. Our love for and confidence in Christ should be independent of the external trappings of the soul. How often we find well-meaning, but weak, Christians thrown off their balance by a stroke of adversity, and ready to curse God and die. Further, the palm-tree affords guidance to the thirsty traveller. It is frequently the indication of the presence of water. That which nourishes its own roots can, of course, quench the thirst of man and beast. Christian character has a function of a similar kind, and should never rest till it has fulfilled it. It is our business to live so that men may take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus. How often the weary and heavy-laden will turn to the meek and quiet, helpful spirit of one who is wise in the things of God! One now and again hears the remark that So-and-So is evidently in possession of a secret, a secret of goodness which ordinary people have not. As a concluding remark, it may be well to mention over again the fact that the palm-tree affords food and shelter to those who need it. Some Christian Endeavourers, at any rate, must have read with special interest Mr. Jowett's recent sermon on the death of Dr. Berry. It was a happy thought of the preacher to speak of the departed Nonconformist leader as one who had been "a hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." It is said of Dr. Berry that many persons have lived, as it were, by his strength. He has given fresh heart and new hope to many a one who was overborne in the battle of life. There is many a man to-day who would have made shipwreck of himself and his career except he had found a friend, under the shade of whose sympathy he was able to abide until he was strong enough to go forward by himself. To be such a shelter is a great thing in this world.
(R. J. Campbell, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.