The Bible can seem obscure at times, declaring “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.” What are we supposed to do with that? Don’t be stumped (tree humor). Let’s unearth the wisdom of this passage.
Start With Context
When a phrase or verse is confusing start by reading the neighboring verses. If need be, go back and read the whole chapter or book.
Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV)
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
Why Is A Palm Tree Comparable To The Righteous?
Scripture repeatedly connects the fruitfulness of trees to the spiritual fruit of mankind. In this passage, ‘the righteous’ are compared to palm trees. Researching the natural characteristics of palm trees will provide some clarity. I will highlight two traits of palm trees:
Palm Trees Grow Straight
Unlike other mangled or twisted trees, palm trees follow a direct path towards the light.
Throughout the Bible, we are called to serve the Lord with unswerving devotion. John the Baptist called out, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” The good news for sinful mankind is that our straight path comes through salvation in Christ, not works.
Proverbs 3:6 (NIV)
…in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Palm trees produce tasty dates for nourishment. In a parched and desolate climate, palm trees provide vital nutrition. Christians should offer spiritual sustenance for weary souls. One of the stranger interactions recorded in Jesus ministry is when the fig tree is cursed for having no fruit (Matthew 21:18-22). This exchange is intended to show the severity of not bearing fruit, not solely for trees, but mankind.
John 15:2 (NIV)
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
Planted In The House Of The Lord
We can never attain a blameless walk or bear fruit alone. Our righteousness is found in Christ; we must be connected to Him.
John 15:4-6 (NIV)
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
The palm tree is a great reminder that God is the Master Gardener – precise in His pruning and able to yield fruit in our lives. Simply submit to Christ, have faith in His completed work on the cross and let Him lead you. Be planted in the presence of our Lord and enjoy His touch.