Ezekiel 41:18-20, 25
And it was made with cherubim and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub; and every cherub had two faces;…
The cherubim and the palm trees were closely associated; both were largely represented, and they were found in close conjunction: "a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub." Both of them pictured the righteous man in the sanctuary of God, but while the cherub signified the good man at his best bringing himself and all that he had as an offering to God, the palm tree stood for the good man as one who had been made what he was by the services of the sanctuary; the one was enlarged and ennobled humanity brining its offering to God, the other was that same humanity gaining its goodness and worth from God and from his house. "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree," said the psalmist (Psalm 92:12). And there is very good reason why that tree should be taken as a type or picture of the righteous man; there is also excellent reason why the prominence of the palm tree in the prophet's vision should picture the truth that man's goodness is the fair and excellent result of much communion with God. Among the resemblances are these -
I. ITS UPRIGHTNESS. Some trees are irregular, they are twisted and tortuous in their growth; some hug the ground before they rise; but the palm rises straight toward heaven, it stands upright among the trees. "Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric grew." The good man is well figured here; he is the man who does not stoop, who does not bend and bow earthward, who stands erect, who moves in one heavenward direction, who is governed constantly by true and abiding principles. And these he gains from God and from his house. There, in the sanctuary, he is sustained in his principles, is reminded of them, gains fresh inspiration to illustrate and adorn them.
II. ITS FRUITFULNESS. The palm, as a fruit-bearing tree, bearing a fruit which is remarkably nutritious - for the date will sustain life for a long time, without any other kind of food - is an admirable picture of the righteous man. He bears fruit; he is expected to "bear much fruit," and fruit of many kinds: excellency of spirit, - love, joy, peace, long-suffering, etc.; worthiness of life, - consistency, blamelessness, practical kindness, etc.; earnest effort to do good, - patient, prayerful endeavor to awaken the slumbering, to elevate the fallen, to comfort the sorrowful, to encourage the feeble, etc. And if he does this, it can only be by having much to do with Jesus Christ his Lord. He must be a branch abiding in the vine; he must maintain a very close spiritual connection with Christ; and how shall he do this without the ordinances of his house?
III. ITS BEAUTY. The palm tree lends a great charm to the landscape when seen standing in clusters upon the heights against the sky; and its evergreen foliage makes each particular tree an object of beauty. The righteous man is he whose character is fair, excellent, admirable. When he is what his Master calls on him to be, and what he actually becomes when he seeks the strength and refreshment to be found in communion with God, then the more he is observed the more he is admired. Those qualities are found in him which are "lovely and of good report;" he is unselfish, pure, considerate, open-handed, patient, brave, loyal, loving. His goodness, like the foliage of the palm, grows not near the ground, where it can easily be soiled and lost, but high up, where lower things cannot damage or destroy it.
IV. ITS ELASTICITY. The fiber of the palm is so elastic that, even when loaded with considerable weights, it still grows determinately upwards (see Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible'). The good man may have much to depress him and to hamper his growth, but if he "dwells in the house of the Lord," he will rise, notwithstanding all that would otherwise check him, to a noble height of virtue and of piety.
V. ITS ULTIMATE TRIUMPH. It does not promise much at the beginning. "It is rough to the touch and enveloped in dry bark, but above it is adorned with fruit... so is the life of the elect, despised below, beautiful above;... down below straitened by innumerable afflictions, but on high it is expanded into a foliage... of beautiful greenness" (see 2 Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 12:11). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it was made with cherubims and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub; and every cherub had two faces;