Psalm 92:12
The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

Psalm 92:12. The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree — Which is constantly green and flourishing, spreads its branches very wide, and grows to a vast size, affording a most refreshing shade to travellers. It also produces dates, a very sweet, luscious, and grateful kind of fruit; is a most beautiful tree, and every way an invaluable treasure to the inhabitants of those hot countries, and therefore a fit emblem of the flourishing state of a righteous man. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon — The cedars in Lebanon are immensely large, being some of them thirty-five, or even forty feet in the girt, and thirty-seven yards in the spread of their boughs. They flourish for ages, and are always green; and, when cut down, yield a most beautiful kind of wood, inclining to a brown colour, solid, durable, and, in some sort, incorruptible. These then, as well as the palm-trees, compared with the short-lived and withering grass, are a striking illustration of the well-founded, durable, and continually increasing virtue and happiness of the truly righteous, in opposition to the momentary, trifling, and perpetually decaying prosperity of the wicked.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 - That is, the beauty, the erectness, the stateliness, the growth of the palm-tree - all this is an emblem of the condition, the prosperity, the happiness of a righteous man. The wicked shall be cut down; but the righteous shall flourish. This image - the comparison of a righteous man to a flourishing, majestic, green, and beautiful tree - is not uncommon in the Scriptures. See the notes at Psalm 1:3; compare Jeremiah 17:8. On the "palm-tree," see the notes at Matthew 21:8. "The stem," says Dr. Thomson ("land and the Book," vol. i. p. 65)" tall, slender, and erect as Rectitude herself, suggests to the Arab poets many a symbol for their lady-love; and Solomon, long before them, has sung, 'How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love! for delights; this thy stature is like the palm-tree." Sol 7:6-7. The following remarks of Dr. Thomson ("land and the Book," vol. i. pp. 65, 66) will illustrate the passage before us; - "The palm grows slowly, but steadily, from century to century, uninfluenced by those alternations of the seasons which affect other trees. It does not rejoice overmuch in winter's copious rain, nor does it droop under the drought and the burning sun of summer. Neither heavy weights which people place upon its head, nor the importunate urgency of the wind, can sway it aside from perfect uprightness. There it stands, looking calmly down upon the world below, and patiently yielding its large clusters of golden fruit from generation to generation. They 'bring forth fruit in old age.' The allusion to being planted in the house of the Lord is probably drawn from the custom of planting beautiful and long-lived trees in the courts of temples and palaces, and in all 'high places' used for worship.

This is still common; nearly every palace, and mosque, and convent in the country has such trees in the courts, and, being well protected there, they flourish exceedingly. Solomon covered all the walls of the 'holy of holies' round about with palm-trees. They were thus planted, as it were, within the very house of the Lord; and their presence there was not only ornamental, but appropriate and highly suggestive; the very best emblem, not only of patience in well-doing, but of the rewards of the righteous - a fat and flourishing old age - a peaceful end - a glorious immortality." The following cut will furnish an apt representation of the appearance of the tree, and a proper illustration of the beauty of the passage before us.

He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon - On the cedars of Lebanon, see the notes at Isaiah 2:13. The following remarks by Dr. Thomson ("land and the Book," vol. i. pp. 292, 295), with the accompanying cut, will show the propriety of the image here. "The platform where the cedars stand is more than six thousand feet above the Mediterranean, and around it are gathered the very tallest and grayest heads of Lebanon. The forest is not large - not more than five hundred trees, great and small, grouped irregularly on the sides of shallow ravines, which mark the birthplace of the Khadisha, or Holy River.

"But, though the space covered by them does not exceed half a dozen acres, yet, when fairly within the grove, and beneath the giant arms of those old patriarchs of a hundred generations, there comes a solemn hush upon the soul as if by enchantment. Precisely the same sort of magic spell settles on the spirits, no matter how often you repeat your visits. But it is most impressive in the night. Let us by all means arrange to sleep there. The universal silence is almost painful. The gray old towers of Lebanon, still as a stone, stand all around, holding up the stars of heaven to look at you, and the trees gather like phantoms about you, and wink knowingly, or seem to, and whisper among themselves you know not what. You become suspicious, nervous, until, broad awake, you find that it is nothing but the flickering of your drowsy fire, and the feeble flutter of bats among the boughs of the trees. A night among the cedars is never forgotten; the impressions, electrotyped, are hid away in the inner chamber of the soul, among her choicest treasures, to be visited a thousand times with never-failing delight.

"There is a singular discrepancy in the statements of travelers with regard to the number of trees. Some mention seven, others thirteen - intending, doubtless, only those whose age and size rendered them Biblical, or at least historical. It is not easy, however, to draw any such line of demarcation. There is a complete gradation from small and comparatively young to the very oldest patriarchs of the forest. I counted four hundred and forty-three, great and small, and this cannot be far from the true number. This, however, is not uniform. Some are struck down by lightning, broken by enormous loads of snow, or torn to fragments by tempests. Even the sacrilegious axe is sometimes lifted against them. But, on the other hand, young trees are constantly springing up from the roots of old ones, and from seeds of ripe cones. I have seen these infant cedars in thousands just springing from the soil; but as the grove is wholly unprotected, and greatly frequented both by human beings and animals, they are quickly destroyed. The fact, however, proves that the number might be increased "ad libitum." Beyond a doubt, the whole of these upper terraces of Lebanon might again be covered with groves of this noble tree, and furnish timber enough not only for Solomon's Temple and the house of the forest of Lebanon, but for all the houses along this coast. But, unless a wiser and more provident government controls the country, such a result can never be realized, and, indeed, the whole forest will slowly die out under the dominion of the Arab and Turk. Even in that case the tree will not be lost. It has been propagated by the nut or seed in many parks in Europe, and there are more of them within fifty miles of London than on all Lebanon.

"We have seen larger trees every way, and much taller, on the banks of the Ohio, and the loftiest cedar might take shelter under the lowest branches of California's vegetable glories. Still, they are respectable trees. The girth of the largest is more than forty-one feet; the height of the highest may be one hundred. These largest, however, part into two or three only a few feet from the ground. Their age is very uncertain, nor are they more ready to reveal it than others who have an uneasy consciousness of length of days. Very different estimates have been made. Some of our missionary band, who have experience in such matters, and confidence in the results, have counted the "growths" (as we Western people call the annual concentric circles) for a few inches into the trunk of the oldest cedar, and from such data carry back its birth three thousand five hundred years. It may be so. They are carved full of names and dates, going back several generations, and the growth "since the earliest date" has been almost nothing. At this rate of increase they must have been growing ever since the Flood. But young trees enlarge far faster, so that my confidence in estimates made from such specimens is but small." The idea in the passage before us is, that the righteous will flourish like the most luxuriant and majestic trees of the forest; they may be compared with the most grand and beautiful objects in nature.

12-14. The vigorous growth, longevity, utility, fragrance, and beauty of these noble trees, set forth the life, character, and destiny of the pious;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.

Psalm 92:12

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.

Psalm 92:13

"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.

Psalm 92:14

"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.

Psalm 92:15

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."

Like the palm tree; which is constantly green, and flourishing, and fruitful, Song of Solomon 7:8, and growing even when it is pressed down; and so is a fit emblem of a just man’s person and condition. See Revelation 7:9.

Like a cedar; which spreads itself wide, and grows very high and strong, and is very durable, and in some sort incorruptible. 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 righteous shall {h} flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

(h) Though the faithful seem to whither and be cut down by the wicked, yet they will grow again and flourish in the Church of God as the cedars do in mount Lebanon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. The fruitfulness of the palm and the fragrance of the cedar, the stately growth and evergreen foliage of both trees, above all, their longevity in contrast to the ephemeral grass which is the emblem of the wicked, may be among the points of comparison intended. Cp. Psalm 92:14; Psalm 1:3; Hosea 14:5-6; Isaiah 65:22.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). Statement of the ground of this commendation of the praise of God. Whilst פּעל is the usual word for God's historical rule (Psalm 44:2; Psalm 64:10; Psalm 90:16, etc.), מעשׂי ידיך denotes the works of the Creator of the world, although not to the exclusion of those of the Ruler of the world (Psalm 143:5). To be able to rejoice over the revelation of God in creation and the revelation of God in general is a gift from above, which the poet thankfully confesses that he has received. The Vulgate begins Psalm 92:5 Quia delectasti me, and Dante in his Purgatorio, xxviii. 80, accordingly calls the Psalm il Salmo Delectasti; a smiling female form, which represents the life of Paradise, says, as she gathers flowers, she is so happy because, with the Psalm Delectasti, she takes a delight in the glory of God's works. The works of God are transcendently great; very deep are His thoughts, which mould human history and themselves gain from in it (cf. Psalm 40:6; Psalm 139:17., where infinite fulness is ascribed to them, and Isaiah 55:8, where infinite height is ascribed to them). Man can neither measure the greatness of the divine works nor fathom the depth of the divine thoughts; he who is enlightened, however, perceives the immeasurableness of the one and the unfathomableness of the other, whilst a אישׁ־בּער, a man of animal nature, homo brutus (vid., Psalm 73:22), does not come to the knowledge (לא ידע, used absolutely as in Psalm 14:4), and כּסיל, a blockhead, or one dull in mind, whose carnal nature outweighs his intellectual and spiritual nature, does not discern את־זאת (cf. 2 Samuel 13:17), id ipsum, viz., how unsearchable are God's judgments and untrackable His ways (Romans 11:33).
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