“The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” (Psalm 92:12)
God often uses images to explain specific truths about salvation. Here the righteous is compared to a palm tree and a cedar in order to illustrate the privileges and state of a Christian.
The Palm Tree
Whenever we read about a palm tree in the Holy Scriptures, it is always a date palm, which has great economic value in Palestine.
Britannica tells us that the palm tree can grow to a height of 23 meters. It requires 4 – 5 years before it will bear fruit. Once it is between 10 and 15 years old, it can produce 200 pounds or more of dates. It can live approximately 150 years and bear fruit the entire time.
When we now read, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,” we see before us the Christian, saved, made righteous by grace through the blood of the Lamb, a work of God, a new creature to the glory of the heavenly Master. He is not compared to an acacia tree full of thorns or a briar, where a mere touch can bring harm. He is also not a small ornamental tree which, though pretty, bears no fruit. No, he is like a palm tree, “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Php. 1:11).
The righteous is like a palm tree. He stands upright, his roots go deep, for he is planted on the foundation of grace, yes even “planted in the house of the Lord” (Psalm 92:13). He is magnificent and strives toward heaven. He is a master in all situations and defies wind and weather. He may bend in a storm, but he remains firmly rooted. When heat and times of drought come along, other trees wither and are uprooted. He remains standing for “he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3).
The righteous will flourish and be a blessing. How encouraging this is! Even though we may go through adversity and difficult times when injustice and distress want to weigh us down, we have many examples in God’s Word that show us how we can be victorious.
The second image God’s Word uses for the righteous is the cedar. “He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing” (Psalm 92:12–14).
The cedar grows in the mountains of Lebanon. It does not grow in a bog or marsh, but on high. The righteous has been pulled from the grime of sin and placed on the Rock of Jesus Christ. By God’s grace, he can be strong in the Lord and in the strength of divine power.
In Palestine, the cedar is the most distinguished tree and has always been an image of power and might. It is an evergreen tree, it is weatherproof and defies frost and heat, summer and winter because it has oil in its wood that keeps worms or vermin out of the trunk.
The righteous has an anointing from above. He possesses the divine element of the Holy Spirit so that his “whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Dear reader, it says here, “He shall grow like a cedar” and “They shall still bear fruit in old age.” Yes, even at an old age, they grow in understanding, in love, in faithfulness and bear fruit for eternity.
Jesus Christ tells us: the righteous bears fruit, “some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty”. Dear reader, the Lord provides us with such wonderful and precious promises. I rejoice in the privilege of being a child of God, made righteous by the Almighty. Praise the Lord!