The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he has planted;…
The cedars are amongst the most beautiful of the trees — majestic in appearance, towering in stature, and enormous as to girth. Being indigenous to Palestine, they are fitly called trees of the Lord's planting, for no human hand has fixed them on their heights. Moreover, it must be God who waters them, from the river that is always full. Despite their exposed position, they are ever green, and always fragrant: they never shed their leaves, and from every branch and spine exudes a sweet aroma. "The trees of the Lord are full of sap." And that sap is sweetly scented. "The smell of Lebanon" is most delightful, and the cedars themselves are the noblest and the royalest amongst the trees of the forest. Let us give glory to God, as we view every object of His cure, every token of His power. The cedars are a fitting type of the people of God.
I. The first likeness that I trace is AS TO OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION. The cedars are "the trees of the Lord." They are His peculiar property; His mark is on them, if I may so speak. We own no proprietorship but that of God Most High. His we are, and Him we ought to serve. "The Lord's portion is His people." The Lord has planted the cedars and His Saints; therefore He owns both. If there is any beauty in us, any blossom on us, any promise of fruit, any shadow or shelter for our fellows, it is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. if we are members of Christ's Church through faith in Him, it was His Spirit that planted us upon the hills of God.
II. God's people resemble cedars because of THEIR BEAUTY AND MAJESTY. I associate those two adjectives, for it takes at least two to describe the peculiar charm of the cedar tree. It is possessed alike of grace and grandeur. So should it be with Christians. There should be about every lover of the Lord a tender spirit, a loving disposition, the beauty of holiness, the charm of grace: and there should be withal a sacred dignity, a laudable ambition, a holy audacity, high up-holding of the head — not in selfish pride, but in simple trust.
III. The feature of these trees to which our text specially directs us is THEIR VITALITY. They are full of sap. The sap of the tree is as the blood of the body — and "the blood is the life thereof." It is this same sap which is the secret of its growth from the sapling stage to the full maturity of which we have been speaking; and it is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the power of this blessed Book, and the influence of the good Spirit in our hearts, which make us to grow. Oh, that all my powers of heart, and head, and thought, and wish, and feeling, felt the blessed influence of the Divine life. I cannot bring forth fruit, I cannot hope to be fresh and green, unless I also am thus full of sap.
IV. We shall also do well to seek to be like the cedars as to THEIR UTILITY. I venture to class under this head their ornamental character. We get into a habit of dissociating these two qualities — ornament and usefulness. I cannot at all see why a thing cannot be both ornamental and useful. If it can be only one, I know which I prefer. Away with the mere ornamental, and let us have what is practical and serviceable. But if we can combine the two, so much the better: what say you? The cedars are both ornamental and useful. We have spoken of their charm and grace, and I put that down as one of their uses. Do you not think God designed that some eye should be gratified by a look at His cedars? You know that wherever trees are, the adjoining country is rendered much more fertile through their presence. Some lands have been quite transformed by the patient planting of trees. Oh, where the Church exists, if the members are often of this sort, there will be blessing all around. The wide-spreading cedars gave grateful shade. This was the beauty of their branches, that 'twixt them the sunshine could scarcely filter through; and in those hot lands it was gratifying indeed to get beneath those boughs. Have you shaded anybody? Have you tried to help the sick, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to teach the ignorant? That is your work. Do it for Jesus, and your reward is sure. The cedar trees were useful, too, for building purposes. The woodwork of the House of the Lord was of cedar-beams. You know what this meant for the cedars — the axe had to be plied upon them. They must needs he cut and planed and squared, that they might have their place in the Sanctuary. the Lord make us content even for this. If we can serve Thee better, let Thine axe come upon us; let us know the sharp edge of sorrow, and the heavy tool of trial. What matters it if we by so suffering can take honourable place in the building of God, and help to glorify the Name of Jesus!
Parallel VersesKJV: The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;