The Palm Tree Psalm 92:12

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.—Psa_92:12.

I wonder how many of you have seen a real, live palm tree? Of course they don’t grow out of doors in this country because it is too cold, but they are sometimes to be found in conservatories. If you visited Kew Gardens, near London, you would see some very fine palm trees in the palm house. But if you have never seen a live palm, I expect you have often seen a picture of one, and so you know what a palm tree looks like with its tall, straight stem and its crown of feathery leaves right at the top.
Now in this text the righteous are compared to the palm tree, and I want to speak about three ways in which the righteous are like the palm tree. But let us see first if we can find out who are the righteous.
The righteous people are the “right” people—not the people who think themselves right. These are the self-righteous, and they are not at all pleasant people to live with. The really “right” people often think themselves very bad indeed, because they know how very far off they are from being perfect. No, the “right” people are not the people who think themselves right; they are the people who are trying to walk in the right path and to please God.

Now I wonder how the righteous are like the palm tree.

1. Well, first, I think they are like the palm because they are straight and upright.

The palm is the straightest of all trees. It is straighter than the pine or the fir. Absolutely erect it stands in spite of difficulties or hindrances. Men may put weights on its head, but it rises again. The wind may sway it, but it cannot bend it.

Near a little town on the east coast of Scotland a row of hawthorn trees grows on the top of a cliff. If you looked at those trees you would notice an unusual thing. They all lean over towards the land and away from the sea. You might fancy that somebody had taken a huge broom and swept along them. But if you asked some wise man belonging to the place why the trees grew like that, he would tell you that the wind is the broom. Along that coast the gales come most frequently from the east, and the trees have got into the habit of turning away from the cold east wind. So they have grown crooked.

But the palm tree is not like these hawthorns. The wild hurricanes of the desert may rage around it. They pass by and leave it standing erect and calm. Nothing is able to turn it aside from perfect uprightness.

And so that is the palm tree’s first message to you— “Be straight.” If you want to be “right” people, be straight, be above-board in all your ways. Never stoop to anything mean or crooked. Don’t plagiarize your school work, or break your word, or say nasty things about people behind their back. Be straight in spite of difficulties. It isn’t always easy to be upright, but it is always best, even when we suffer for it or lose by it. What we lose by being crooked is not worth the price we pay for it—the price of our honor and peace of conscience.

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.” If you would be like the palm tree—be straight.
2. The “right” people are like the palm tree because they are beautiful.

The palm is a very beautiful tree with its tall graceful stem and its crown of feathery leaves. It is so beautiful that once when a Persian conqueror was travelling in his gilded chariot he ordered his soldiers to have a date-palm that he passed hung with golden chains. Because of its beauty the palm was used in the decoration of temples and houses. In the First Book of Kings we read that Solomon adorned the walls and doors of the Temple with carvings of palm trees.

And the palm is beautiful, not only for its form, but for the color of its leaves. All the year round these leaves are a lovely, fresh green. The flowers and grass may fade and shrivel in the hot sun, but the palm leaves remain evergreen. The burning dust-storms may try to cover them with sand but they shake themselves free of it. And so the palm tree’s second message to you is—“Be beautiful.” Don’t stop short at being straight; be beautiful. Some people who are very upright in their characters are not at all beautiful. Many good, honorable people are disagreeable in their tempers, or hard and cold and unsympathetic to those around them, or rough and ungracious in their ways.

But God wants us to be beautiful as well as straight. The most beautiful life that was ever lived was the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and He was always gracious, and kind, and courteous. Be beautiful, boys and girls. Don’t be content with being merely straight. Put away from you all ugly tempers, all coldness, and hardness, and roughness. Let your lives be gracious. Be kind and loving. Don’t forget the little minor courtesies or think they are not worth minding. They matter much more than you fancy.

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.” If you would be like the palm tree—be beautiful.
3. The righteous are like the palm tree because they are useful.

The Arabs have three hundred and sixty names for the palm tree and they say they can find as many uses for it. They eat the fruit and drink the sap. From the stems they make beams and rafters for building houses. From the leaves they make baskets, mats, brooms and walking-sticks. From the fiber at the base of the leaf stems they weave ropes and sails and coarse cloth. Even the very date stones are ground down and given as food to camels, so that no part of the tree is lost.

But the palm tree doesn’t wait to be cut down before beginning to be useful. To the traveler over the weary burning desert a grove of palms is a welcome sight, for there he knows he will find shelter from the scorching rays of the sun and water for his parched throat.

And so the palm tree says to you again—“Be useful.” God put us into the world not just to be ornaments but to be useful. When He made the first man He gave him a garden to keep, and He has something for you and for me to do too. We may be perfectly straight and upright, we may have many beautiful things in our character, but if we are not trying to be of use to somebody, we have really no right to be here at all. Be useful. Try to do something every day to help somebody or to make somebody happier, and then your life will not have been lived in vain.

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.” If you would be like the palm tree—be useful.
Do you know the secret of the palm tree? Do you know why it lives and flourishes when everything around it withers and shrivels up? Because it sends its roots down, down, till they reach some secret spring far below the surface.

Do you know the secret of the righteous? Would you like to keep straight and beautiful, would you like to live useful lives? Then keep in touch with the secret springs of living water that Jesus provides. Drink deep of His love and His grace. Keep near to Him in prayer. Then you will never fade or wither; you will “flourish like the palm tree.”