The Palm Tree and Me
I remember clearly the preacher describing how a Palm tree grows and it’s characteristics and purpose. I still get shivers when I think about it…
My thoughts in summary as it was about 22 years ago when I first heard it are written first. I’ve followed up with notes I’ve collected through the years on The Palm Tree (mostly from other preachers – I can’t site any by name as their are many and they all overlap. After 20 plus years of trying to find that specific sermon I heard on TV, I’ve never been successful in locating it. But it really did happen, and it changed my life.
Most of the metaphors are pretty obvious. I’ve noted the ones that have hit me hardest through the years. That day, the preacher showed a video clip of this palm tree that had been leveled by a tropical storm. The video then showed how it was preserved through God’s design. When a palm tree grows, the roots go deep through the earth until it finds the bedrock and attaches itself to it. (the metaphors here and pretty awesome – Jesus the Rock) Because of this, it’s foundation is so secure, it is almost impossible to destroy a palm tree.
Also, it grows incredibly tall, reaching up to the heavens, deriving much strength from the sun. (Jesus – the SON) Most palm trees are found in areas that are exposed to fierce storms, a lot of fierce storms. Sometimes after a storm, the palm trees look like they are dead. They are horizontal and roots are exposed.
But they are not dead. Somehow, the light of the sun and their strong root system cause them to rise up and stand tall once again – sometimes even within a day.
I am definitely like a palm tree. Absolutely.
The great news is though – we are all like palm trees, by the Grace of God.
The Bible says, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree…” (Ps. 92:12)
Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.2but his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. 4The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.…(Ps 1:1-3)
In fact Palm trees are mentioned more than 30 times in the Bible. The first mention of the palm tree occurs in Exodus 15:27, where, upon departing from Egyptian bondage, the Israelites “came to Elim, where there were 12 wells of water and 70 palm trees.” I’ve always thought that it was interesting that God’s people were brought first to a place with many palm trees, when they were brought out of captivity.
Palm Trees Grow Upright
A palm tree grows straight up. It has no branches, only fronds (leaves – which it will shed during a storm, to preserve life) Always looking up towards heaven the palm tree grows to great height, sometimes even hundred feet. A believer is always looking up towards heaven, trying to know and follow the Will of God. Rooted in a land whether fertile or not, it grows up sucking the moisture from the earth. Palm trees invoke a sense of paradise and peace. No matter which way they are planted, palm trees always grow towards the sun, even if it means that they must twist and contort themselves. A Christian centers his life on Christ, striving always to grow closer to God. We bend and twist ourselves as necessary both to avoid sin and resist temptation, while at the same time we reach for God.
Palm trees are lean and slender, shedding excess branches as they grow. The wind still blows on them, but there is less for the wind to grab ahold of. As we grow stronger in our faith, deepening our relationship with God, we shed our desire for worldly things. We become less vulnerable to temptation and center our lives on Christ. That way when the difficult times come we don’t worry about material loss, but rather we maintain our hope inwhat matters most, our salvation.
It Grows Tall
Palm trees are unique and have a distinct appearancein their height. They grow much taller than other trees. Even trees that are much older don’t compare to the height of the palms. As Christians we stand out in a crowd—or at least we should—since we are called to be the “light of the world.” It’s not to say that we are better than others, but the way we carry ourselves—our speech, our demeanor, our disposition—should be dramatically different than our non-believing counterparts. There is something special about us. People can see that you have something that they don’t have, and they want it. What we have is God’s grace. That is what makes us special. Palm trees are easily spotted and identified. Palm trees are difficult to hide. They don’t blend in with their environment.
It Cannot be Grafted
Horticulturists say that to graft a palm tree is to kill it.
1. The palm tree is distinctive and unusual.
2. This is why grafting kills it.
To graft a Christian into the world is to kill his testimony and influence.
1. The Christian is to be distinctive, easily distinguished from the world.
2. Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore brethren….”
Palm Trees Are Durable.
They are deep rooted. They will bend under extreme conditions but they rarely break or become uprooted. They are designed to weather storms. Although palm trees may look weak and scrawny, appearances can be deceiving. They sway to and fro in the wind, but they never break as opposed to the dense, bulky trees whose branches snap under pressure. Just like the palm trees, we have the special ability to weather the storm. That special ability is none other than the hand of God working in our lives. Christians don’t have fewer problems, but we do have an all-powerful God to help us get through them. We embrace our struggles, our difficulties, our crosses. We still feel the pain, but we don’t allow our pain to overcome us and we never lose hope. We bend and sway, but we never break!
The palm tree is noted for its hidden life. The life of most of the other trees is near the surface, just under the bark. All that is needed to kill them is to girdle the tree — just cut down to the wood, and the sap quits flowing, and the tree dies. There is a class of professed Christians who live near the surface. Their feelings are easily hurt, and a little persecution discourages them. They cannot stand a long siege of opposition. You may hack, peel, and girdle the palm tree, and it continues to live. This is true of a palm tree saint. You can peel, slander, and cut their reputations to pieces with cruel tongues, and still they have unbroken fellowship with God.
It is A Tree Not Affected by Drought
Whatever the weather, a palm tree is not affected in any way, not even surface injuries, until you cut it down. Likewise the Christian life is not overcome by any trial or tribulation in life. He is completely dependent on God and takes everything according to the will of God. He draws his strength of life through his trust in God and always rejoices. The palm tree not only survives but flourishes in the desert.
It Will not Burn
It is not used for firewood because it refuses to burn as ordinary wood. The child of God will never, not even for a moment, suffer the fires of hell. He will never burn; he is a palm tree.
It is Coniferous
The palm tree is perennially green throughout all seasons. Life flows within its being continually and keeps it fresh. Rains may fail. Storms may shake and sway the tree with great force. But nothing happens to the palm tree. ‘Palm-tree Christians’ are unique because they never change. They are the same vibrant witnesses of God’s grace throughout the day because Jesus Christ Himself is ‘the same yesterday, today and forever.’
Palm Trees Are Fruitful.
They were a major food source for the Israelites. They bear their best fruit when they are old. In fact the older the palm tree the sweeter the fruit (Psalm 92:14).
With over 3,000 species: The date palm produces over 300 pounds of dates annually. The African oil palm, very widely cultivated in the tropics, gives a higher oil yield per hectare than any other oil plant. It produces two quite different types of oil, and that from palm kernels, used for making margarine and soap, and that from the fleshy part of the fruit, used more widely for industrial processes. This is one of the most rapidly expanding plantation crops today.
Palm Trees are Useful
Each and Every Part of it is Useful. The Palm tree is known for its usefulness, from top to bottom each and every part of the tree is useful. Found in warm climates, it gives the cooling effect in effect by its shade as well as its fruit. It also has many medicinal purposes. Palm leaves are known for their cooling effect and thatched roofs were made from these for thousands of years. Even today they are used as beams in construction. Until modern printing was invented,,a form of palm leaves/ Cyprus grasses had been used for making papyrus – a form of early paper – even that which was used for writing the Bible.
The Syrians had over 360 uses for the palm tree. In addition to fruit:
1. Its sap could be mixed with water to make wine.
2. The seed from its fruit was ground and fed to livestock.
3. Fibers from its leaves were used to make rope.
4. The leaves were used to make baskets and mats.
5. Wood from the trunk was excellent for building.
6. Every part of the palm tree was useful. It was held in such high regard for its beauty and practicality, that it was a common name given to women in the OT–“tamar”.
It is a Universal Emblem of Victory
Palm trees were sympbolic of victory in many cultures through history. In Mesopotamia, the palm had long been sacred as a symbol of triumph, eternal life and peace. In Inda, the palm leaves were sent to the neighboring kings carrying messages of war and peace. Many ancient cultures celebrated victories with the palm tree. In ancient Greece, a palm branch was presented to winning athletes. The palm tree itself was associated with victory in the belief system of ancient Rome.
Because victory can also signify an end of conflict, some cultures, such as Islam, associate the palm with peace and paradise. In a1ncient Egypt, the palm represented eternal life; in Jewish tradition, the palm was connected to the festival of Sukkot. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the palm branches that the people were placing before him already had symbolic value. It is also mentioned in the book of Revelations as a token of victory.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, later Christian leaders took the palm as a symbol of the victory that martyrs won over their oppressors and of the victory of the spirit over the desires of the flesh. Both of these meanings earned the palm a place on several flags and seals representing countries in later history.
The Palm Tree Shows the Place of Water
Palm tree has a very acute sense of finding water. Its roots go deep to find out water even in dry places. Even in a desert filled with hot sand, the palm tree survives bearing the scorching heat of the sun. As believers we find our livelihood in Christ ‘the living water’. He is the living water that can quench any thirst. Jesus said, “Those who drink of the water that I shall give will never be thirsty” (John 4: 14). A Christian can show the way towards ‘the living water’.
A Group Of Palm Trees Forms An Oasis.
One palm tree standing alone will not provide much shade from the burning sun. A group of palm trees forms an oasis. Stay together and stand as Christians. Get in and stay in the N.T. church. These are even described at “families” – the group of trees. The oasis provides shade for the weary traveler. Often in the desert, you will find orange and lemon trees growing beneath the shade of the palms grouped together. When we group ourselves together in the church, we provide shade for those weaker than ourselves. This is why Hebrews 10:25 is so important to us. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…”
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isa 61:3 *This verse was read at my wedding, one of the things that spoke so clearly to my heart that my husband was a match for me, was that I saw him as a tree that I was planted together with – and this verse was our mandate for our family, our group of trees. That He might be glorified.