And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat:…
There need not, I think, be any reasonable difficulty in finding out the meaning of these trees. Make the statement historical, or make it parabolical, and it comes much to the same thing. It means that there is a permanent line separating obedience from disobedience; that all created life is limited; and that whoever breaketh through a hedge a serpent shall bite him. These trees were not traps set to catch the man; they were necessities of the case. They showed him where to stop. Wonderful, truly, that if he touched the tree of mystery he should die I Yes, and it is grandly and solemnly true. It is so with life. Let life alone if you would live. Receive it as a mystery, and it will bless you; degrade it, abuse it, and it will slay you in great wrath. It is the same with light. Pluck the sun, and you will be lost in darkness; let the sun alone in his far-off ministry, and you shall never want day and summer. It is the same with music. Open the organ, that you may read its secret, and it will fall into silence; touch it on the appointed keys, and it will never tire in answering your sympathetic appeals. It is so difficult to be satisfied with the little we have and the little we know. We want to see over the hedge. We long to withdraw the screen that is everywhere trembling around us. We torture these little pulses of ours to tell us what they are, and how they were set a-ticking in their warm prisons. No man ever saw his own heart! There it is, knocking in his side, as if it wanted to come out; but if you let it out, it can return to its work no more! It seems to be only the skin that covers the pulse, but, though seemingly so near, it is really so far! "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," said the Almighty. This is not a threat. It is not a defiance or a challenge. It is a revelation; it is a warning! When you tell your child not to touch the fire or it will be burned, you do not threaten the child: you warn it in love, and solely for its own good. Foolish would the child be if it asked why there should be any fire; and foolish are we, with high aggravations, when we ask why God should have set the tree of life and the tree of knowledge in Eden. These trees are in every family. Yes; they are in every family, because they are in every heart! How near is death. One act and we cease to live. This is true, physically, morally, socially: one act — one step between us and death!
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: