I am not much of a cold weather gal. I think I might have been the first person ever diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder); thirty years ago, the doctor said I could pick anti-depressants or sunshine to fix what ailed me. At first, Robbie thought I was making it up (“Honey, the doctor says I have SAD and we need to go someplace sunny!”), but now he knows better. And when he came home over Christmas and told us that he’d booked a four-day trip to Captiva Island, Florida for the whole family, I was ecstatic.
If you haven’t been to Captiva, you should give it a try. Sandpipers compete with shells for space on the beach, and the dolphins come THIS CLOSE to the water’s edge (meaning that even people like me, who don’t tend to get wet, can get an eyeful of Flipper; truly, if that thing had come any closer, I would have offered it a beach chair).
It was marvelous.
But this isn’t a travel blog, it’s a prayer blog, so I will hasten to add that the island also has palm trees, and when I looked up from my shell hunting and saw the one pictured here, Psalm 92 popped into my mind. (I didn’t know it was Psalm 92, but I once had a friend who was Treasurer of the National Palm Tree Society–who knew?–and he signed all of his letters, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.” Which, for those who don’t already have that one memorized, is from Psalm 92.)
So anyway, I went home and looked up the verse in Matthew Henry’s commentary. (I know, I know. I am so much fun at the beach.) Here’s what he has to say about Psalm 92:12-15 in general, and palm trees in particular:
First, palm trees grow (evidence that where God gives some grace, he will give more grace). As a result, they become stronger, and fitter for use.
Second, palm trees flourish. Palm tree people (my term, not his) are “cheerful themselves and respected by all about them,” flourishing “in their profession and in the comfort and joy of their own souls.” Plus, Henry says, palm trees are marked by a “stately body” (and hey, if you want to quit reading now and just skip to the prayer, that’s cool).
Third, even the harshest conditions don’t impact a palm tree’s health. Palm trees are long-lived, Henry says, and (unlike some people) not changed by the winter. In fact, it can be said of palm trees (and here I am quoting again, although I am sure this is a familiar refrain around your house): Sub ponder crescit.
In other words, The more it is pressed down the more it grows.
Seriously. Who wouldn’t want to be a palm tree?
But wait. There’s more. Verse 14 says that palm tree people, like the actual plants, will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. “The last days of the saints are sometimes their best days,” Henry writes, “and their last work is their best work.”
As a SAD person who is sliding down the backside of life, I can’t think of a more encouraging promise than that! Stately body notwithstanding, I really want Psalm 92 to be true in my life. The next time you see a palm tree–or even just a picture of one–let it guide your thoughts toward these verses, and pray them for yourself or someone you love.
Heavenly Father, may _______ flourish like a palm tree, growing and bearing fruit–good words and works that glorify you and bring strength and grace to others–even in my/his/her old age. (Psalm 92:12-15)