The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Psalm 92:12-15
Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Romans 11:19-21
Psalm 92 compares God’s righteous people to a palm tree planted in the house of the Lord. What is the function of this tree? It is to flourish, grow, and bear fruit. What fruit does it bear? Not dates or coconuts, (it is an analogy, don’t forget!), but the fruit of a clear declaration “that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” This promise of fruitfulness is directed to the elderly. They will continue to bear spiritual fruit into old age despite the decline of their physical strength.
Paul addresses something that must have been bothering the Christians in Rome. There seems to have been an issue (or, at least, a potential issue) of Christian Gentiles looking down on unbelieving Jews for rejecting Christ. The Apostle explains that this rejection (anticipated in the Old Testament) benefited the Gentiles who were then coming to Christ. Ultimately, we can expect a positive reaction among the Jews when they turn to the Lord. “Be humble about your acceptance before God. He could cut you off and restore the natural branches,” Paul warns the Gentile Christians.
Think about it
God has securely grafted us who believe in His Son into His olive tree whether young or elderly. But it is not our own doing. It is by grace through faith, not by any merit on our part. We ought to maintain a humble, grateful attitude. As part of the tree in the house of the Lord, He planted us to bear fruit. God’s grace will sustain us all the days of our lives as we keep declaring God’s righteousness. So expect fruitfulness and beware of arrogance.
© 2017 John A Carroll Used by permission