As we think about creation care, I want you to consider two biblical trees: the palm and the cedar.  Recent changes in climate are threatening the cedars of Lebanon, a symbol of pride for that nation (just look at their flag!).  The forests on the mountains of Lebanon are starting to die, however, as the climate warms and dries.  The forests are shifting upwards on the mountains, seeking cold winters, yet they can only go so high.  Soon the southern trees won’t have elevation left to pursue.  If trends continue, some estimates indicate the only trees remaining at century’s end will be at the northern edge of the country.

On the other hand, the palm stands at the forefront of the battle against climate change.  UAE scientists are exploring ways to harvest palm “waste”—leaves, stems, and empty branches—and convert these into biofuel and biochar, which would have less impact than fossil fuels on carbon dioxide emissions.

The Psalmist compares the righteous to these two trees in Ps 92:12-15:

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.”

Ps 92:12-15, NIV

Both trees were connected to Solomon’s temple, so they were “planted in the house of the Lord.”  Palms were carved onto wood inside and outside the temple as decorations.  Palms were symbolized by the two pillars on each side of the temple entrance.  The cedars of Lebanon were used in construction as beam supports and paneling.

One reason the psalmist focused on these trees is that they are evergreens.  They are consistent through the different seasons of life, not changing depending on circumstance.  Our righteousness should not come and go but should constantly and consistently flow out of our lives.  Both trees thrive in their environment.  The palm grows in the desert, where there is little water and the temperatures are high.  The cedar grows in the mountains, drawing on the mists from the Mediterranean Sea and thriving in the cold climate.  Their two extreme climates are apt reminders that we are called to thrive wherever we find ourselves.  Whether our spiritual life is on fire or stone cold at the moment, we should trust in the Rock of our salvation and honor him in those periods of life.  Whether our life is pleasant and peaceful as the misted cedar or life’s struggles bear down on us like the desert palm, our Father sustains us.

We are called to “bear fruit,” that is, honor God through acts of justice and righteousness.  Throughout our lives, we are called to service (“in old age staying fresh and green”).  Our lives should be a blessing to others.  Like the Lord, the palm is “upright” and straight.  Its height is an aid to the nomad searching for food, water, and respite from the sun in a dry, barren land.  The maturing cedar’s trunk grows ever sturdier, allowing it to spread out its branches in order to provide shade, shelter, protection, and help to those creatures who live in and under its canopy.  Like the Lord, its fragrant wood brings delight and joy.

Father, help us to flourish like the palm and the cedar.  May our lives produce fruit and bless others around us.  May we honor you consistently throughout our lives.  You are our Rock in whom we rest.  We know you are faithful in every way.  May our roots drive deep into you, the eternal Source of Life.

One thought on “Flourishing like a Palm and a Cedar

  1. Wonderful messages, very helpful during this hard times and beyond. Glory to God that He can use his servants far away to reach souls across the world with word of encouragement. God bless you abundantly.


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