Unlike the wicked person, the righteous one doesn’t walk, stand or sit in the ways of sin. His focus is on God’s teachings in which he takes delight. For the believer, the teaching of “Christ,” the Gospel message, inspire us because of the depth of God’s love for us and moves us to want to understand more about the Gospel. When the “word of Christ” dwells in us richly it works its miraculous changes in us from the inside out which produces happiness in many ways in our lives. This is the subject of Psalm 1:3. It says, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Roy Gingrich identifies these five blessings. He writes of the righteous man, “(1) He is deeply rooted (established in the truths of God). (2) He is constantly nourished (by the water of the Spirit). (3) He is continually fruitful (in good works). (4) He is unfading (always manifesting spiritual life and beauty). (5) He is ever prosperous (in all of his undertakings).”[1]

“The poet introduces a metaphor at this point to give concrete form to the more abstract concept of being ’ashre. (That’s the Hebrew for blessed.) Whereas a tree in the steppe or desert may live but not thrive, this tree intentionally planted by an irrigation canal will always be productive.”[2] When we see a metaphor, we need to identify what “likeness” it’s referring to. We ask, “What is it about the tree that corresponds to the righteous person?” Psalm 92 might be understood to say that this is the “Palm” tree. If this is the case the reference is to how it flourishes. Palm trees seem to flourish under the most difficult circumstances. One blogger wrote, “Have you ever seen a palm tree in the midst of a great storm? That tree may be bent so far over that it’s almost touching the ground, but when the wind finally stops, that palm tree bounces right back up. What’s interesting is that while that palm tree is hunched over under the pressure of the storm, it is actually becoming stronger.”[3]

Psalm 92 also says the “righteous” are like the “Cedar” tree. It says that the righteous “grow” like the Cedar of Lebanon.  Ezekiel 31:4-7 tells us some things about the cedar tree that might be relevant to what the Psalmist wants us to understand about the righteous. It says, “The waters nourished it; the deep made it grow tall, making its rivers flow around the place of its planting, sending forth its streams to all the trees of the field.  So it towered high above all the trees of the field; its boughs grew large and its branches long from abundant water in its shoots. All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; under its branches, all the beasts of the field gave birth to their young, and under its shadow lived all great nations.  It was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its branches; for its roots went down to abundant waters.”

Not only are the palm tree and the cedar tree pictures of the flourishing and growth of a believer but it also productivity in one’s later years. Psalm 92:12-14 tells us “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  …They still bear fruit in old age.” As someone who just turned 75 on his last birthday, this is an encouraging thought. I believe the “fruit” we bear in our aging is the fruit of stronger faith. Lange says, “The fresh foliage is a figure of faith, which changes the water of life of the divine word into sap and strength, and the fruit is the figure of works which gradually ripen and spread their blessings around.”[4] We’re never too old to grow!

[1] Gingrich, Roy E. 2005. The Book of Psalms (Book One). Memphis, TN: Riverside Printing.

[2] Futato, Mark D. 2009. “The Book of Psalms.” In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 7: The Book of Psalms, The Book of Proverbs, 32. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[3] https://shcofbowlinggreen.com/chaplains_corner/devotional-flourish-like-a-palm-tree/

[4] Lange, John Peter, Philip Schaff, Carl Bernhard Moll, Charles A. Briggs, John Forsyth, James B. Hammond, J. Frederick McCurdy, and Thomas J. Conant. 2008. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Psalms. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.