Psalms 92:12 MEANING

Psalm 92:12
(12) Palm tree.--This is the only place where the palm appears as an emblem of moral rectitude and beauty of character, yet its aptness for such comparison has often been noticed. (See Tristram's Natural History of the Bible, p. 384; and comp. Thomson's The Land and the Book, p. 49.)

A moral use was more often made of the cedar. Emblem of kingly might, it also became the type of the imperial grandeur of virtuous souls. (See Bible Educator, iii. 379.)

The contrast of the palm's perennial verdure, and the cedar's venerable age, an age measured not by years, but by centuries, with the fleeting moments of the brief day of the grass, to which the wicked are compared (Psalm 92:7), is very striking, as striking as that in Psalms 1 between the empty husk and the flourishing fruit-tree.

Verse 12. - The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree. To an Oriental the palm is the queen of trees. "Of all vegetable forms," says Humboldt, "the palm is that to which the prize of beauty has been assigned by the concurrent voice of nations in all ages" ('Aspects of Nature,' vol. 2. p. 20, Engl. trans.). Its stately growth, and graceful form, its perpetual verdure, its lovely and luxuriant fruit, together with its manifold uses (Strabo, 16:1, § 14), give it precedence over all other vegetable growths in the eyes that are accustomed to rest upon it. It is rather remarkable that, in the Old Testament, it is used as a figure for beauty only here and in Song of Solomon 7:7. Man, in his most flourishing growth, is ordinarily compared either to the cedar (2 Kings 14:9; Song of Solomon 5:15; Ezekiel 31:3-9; Amos 2:9, etc.)or the olive tree (Judges 9:8, 9; Psalm 52:8; Jeremiah 11:16; Hosea 14:6, etc.). He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon (see, besides the passages already quoted, 2 Kings 19:23; 2 Chronicles 2:8; Jeremiah 22:23; Zechariah 11:1).

92:7-15 God sometimes grants prosperity to wicked men in displeasure; yet they flourish but for a moment. Let us seek for ourselves the salvation and grace of the gospel, that being daily anointed by the Holy Spirit, we may behold and share the Redeemer's glory. It is from his grace, by his word and Spirit, that believers receive all the virtue that keeps them alive, and makes them fruitful. Other trees, when old, leave off bearing, but in God's trees the strength of grace does not fail with the strength of nature. The last days of the saints are sometimes their best days, and their last work their best work: perseverance is sure evidence of sincerity. And may every sabbath, while it shows forth the Divine faithfulness, find our souls resting more and more upon the Lord our righteousness.The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree,.... Not like grass, as the wicked, Psalm 92:7 which is weak and tender, and soon cut down; but like trees, and like palm trees, that are firm and strong, and of a long continuance: the word for righteous being of the singular number, has led some to think that Christ is meant; but though he is eminently the righteous One, being so in himself, and the author of righteousness to others, yet not he, but his church and people, are compared to a palm tree, Sol 7:7, the reason why the singular number is made use of is, as Aben Ezra thinks, because the righteous are very few, in comparison of the wicked: the sense is, that everyone of the righteous, or everyone that is righteous, through the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and are created anew in righteousness and true holiness, and live soberly, righteously, and godly, are like the flourishing palm trees; which grow upright, and under the greatest pressures, and rise upwards against the greatest weight upon them (e); whose force and vigour is on the top of them, which being cut off, they die; which delight in hot climates and sunny places, bear a delicious fruit, are ever green, are very durable, and their branches used in token of joy and victory; it is said to be a perfect image of a man, and in many things to resemble him (f): so truly righteous persons are upright ones in heart and life, grow up into their head, Christ, and rise up heavenwards in their desires and affections; and, like the Israelites, the more they are pressed with the weight of afflictions, the more they grow; their grace and strength, their life and rigour, lie in their head, Christ; from whom was it possible they could be separated, as it is not, they would instantly die; they flourish under him, the sun of righteousness, and his warming beams of love, and bring forth the fruits of righteousness by him, to the glory of God; their leaf of profession does not wither, but is always green; the grace of God, which is in them, being an incorruptible and never dying seed: hence, in the issue, they make that palm, bearing company in Revelation 7:9 who are more than conquerors through Christ, that has loved them: the Greek version is, "as the phoenix", which some of the ancients understood of a bird so called, supposed to rise out of its ashes, and use it to prove the resurrection of the dead (g):

he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon; where the best, tallest, largest, and strongest cedars grow; See Gill on Isaiah 37:24 to which the righteous are compared, who grow up by degrees higher and higher, even to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; and, stronger and stronger in him, go from strength to strength, having their spiritual strength renewed by him; and cast forth their roots in him, like Lebanon, and the cedars there; and spread their boughs and branches, like them, in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty; and grow in every grace, of faith, hope, love, humility, self-denial, and submission to the will of God, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ; and are durable as the cedar, never die, their life being hid with Christ in God. Kimchi refers this to the days of the Messiah.

(e) Plutarch. apud A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 3. c. 6. (f) Set Sandys's Travels, l. 2. p. 80. (g) Texelii Phoenix, l. 1. c. 4. p. 14.

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