|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
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).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
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.
The Treasury of David
12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;
15 To shew that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
The song now contrasts the condition of the righteous with that of the graceless. The wicked "spring as the grass," but "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree," whose growth may not be so rapid, but whose endurance for centuries is in fine contrast with the transitory verdure of the meadow. When we see a noble palm standing erect, sending all its strength upward in one bold column, and growing amid the dearth and drought of the desert, we have a fine picture of the godly man, who in his uprightness aims alone at the glory of God; and, independent of outward circumstances, is made by divine grace to live and thrive where all things else perish. The text tells us not only what the righteous is, but what he shall be; come what may, the good man shall flourish, and flourish after the noblest manner. "He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon." This is another noble and long-lived tree. "As the days of a tree are the days of my people," saith the Lord. On the summit of the mountain, unsheltered from the blast, the cedar waves its mighty branches in perpetual verdure, and so the truly godly man under all adversities retains the joy of his soul, and continues to make progress in the divine life. Grass, which makes hay for oxen, is a good enough emblem of the unregenerate; but cedars, which build the temple of the Lord, are none too excellent to set forth the heirs of heaven.
"Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God." In the court-yards of Oriental houses trees were planted, and being thoroughly screened, they would be likely to bring forth their fruit to perfection in trying seasons; even so, those who by grace are brought into communion with the Lord, shall be likened to trees planted in the Lord's house, and shall find it good to their souls. No heart has so much joy as that which abides in the Lord Jesus. Fellowship with the stem begets fertility in the branches. If a man abide in Christ he brings forth much fruit. Those professors who are rooted to the world do not flourish; those who send forth their roots into the marshes of frivolous pleasure cannot be in a vigorous condition; but those who dwell in habitual fellowship with God shall become men of full growth, rich in grace, happy in experience, mighty in influence, honoured and honourable. Much depends upon the soil in which a tree is planted; everything, in our case, depends upon our abiding in the Lord Jesus, and deriving all our supplies from him. If we ever really grow in the courts of the Lord's house we must be planted there, for no tree grows in God's garden self-sown; once planted of the Lord, we shall never be rooted up, but in his courts we shall take root downward, and bring forth fruit upward to his glory for ever.
"They shall still bring forth fruit in old age." Nature decays but grace thrives. Fruit, as far as nature is concerned, belongs to days of vigour; but in the garden of grace, when plants are weak in themselves, they become strong in the Lord, and abound in fruit acceptable with God. Happy they who can sing this Sabbath Psalm, enjoying the rest which breathes through every verse of it; no fear as to the future can distress them, for their evil days, when the strong man faileth, are the subject of a gracious promise, and therefore they await them with quiet expectancy. Aged believers possess a ripe experience, and by their mellow tempers and sweet testimonies they feed many. Even if bedridden, they bear the fruit of patience; if poor and obscure, their lowly and contented spirit becomes the admiration of those who know how to appreciate modest worth. Grace does not leave the saint when the keepers of the house do tremble; the promise is still sure though the eyes can no longer read it; the bread of heaven is fed upon when the grinders fail; and the voice of the Spirit in the soul is still melodious when the daughters of music are brought low. Blessed be the Lord for this! Because even to hoar hairs he is the I AM, who made his people, he therefore bears and carries them.
"They shall be fat and flourishing." They do not drag out a wretched, starveling existence, but are like trees full of sap, which bear luxuriant foliage. God does not pinch his poor servants, and diminish their consolations when their infirmities grow upon them; rather does he see to it that they shall renew their strength, for their mouths shall be satisfied with his own good things. Such an one as Paul the aged would not ask our pity, but invite our sympathetic gratitude; however feeble his outward man may be, his inner man is so renewed day by day that we may well envy his perennial peace.
This mercy to the aged proves the faithfulness of their God, and leads them "to shew that the Lord is upright" by their cheerful testimony to his ceaseless goodness. We do not serve a Master who will run back from his promise. Whoever else may defraud us, he never will. Every aged Christian is a letter of commendation to the immutable fidelity of Jehovah. "He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him." Here is the Psalmist's own seal and sign manual: still was he building upon his God, and still was the Lord a firm foundation for his trust. For shelter, for defence, for indwelling, for foundation, God is our rock; hitherto he has been to us all that he said he would be, and we may be doubly sure that he will abide the same even unto the end. He has tricot us, but he has never allowed us to be tempted above what we are able to bear: he has delayed our reward, but he has never been unrighteous to forget our work of faith and labour of love. He is a friend without fault, a helper without fail. Whatever he may do with us, he is always in the right; his dispensations have no flaw in them, no, not the most minute. He is true and righteous altogether, and so we weave the end of the Psalm with its beginning, and make a coronet of it, for the head of our Beloved. "It is a good thing to sing praises unto the Lord," for "he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12-14. The vigorous growth, longevity, utility, fragrance, and beauty of these noble trees, set forth the life, character, and destiny of the pious;
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