The Beauty of Christian Living
The title of Psalm 92, “A Song for the Sabbath Day,” suggests an example of praise perfectly suitable to a day of rest. When the Lord is given His place of supremacy, there praise to Him is perfected. The basis of praise intimated by the Psalmist is, the Majesty of the Lord as displayed in His works and in His power over the workers of iniquity. The Name, lovingkindness, and faithfulness of the Lord all excite in the heart the attitude of thanksgiving and adoration. What a contrast is seen between the grasslike springing up of the wicked, and the planting and flourishing of the righteous! “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God” (Psa. 92:13).
Let us notice some of the figures of speech that are used in this Psalm.
The Similes Used:
The Palm Trees:
Many other similes are likewise used in God’s Word to picture His saints. Christ said of them, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” indicating that their presence in the world was preservative. He also said, “Ye are the light of the world,” denoting that their life and testimony were radiant in the midst of darkness (Matt. 5:13-14).
In this Psalm they are likened to the palm trees and to the cedar of Lebanon. From the Bible Dictionary we learn that the palm is one of the most interesting and useful trees in Palestine. It grows from 30 to 80 feet high, and bears in large clusters rich dates which hang down from the top. One tree often yields as much as two hundred pounds, and will bear for 70 to 100 years. They are mostly found near wells from which they draw their moisture.
What a lovely symbol of the Christian life! Tall and stately its head seems to reach the heavens. What an illustration of the believer seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Col. 3:1-2; Eph. 2:6)! The ungodly are symbolized by the thorns and briers that grow near the earth. There is no fruit to God in their lives, but the palm bears its rich fruit ministering to both God and man. The Christian has been chosen by Christ to bear fruit (John 15:16), and the Spirit of God indwells him for that very purpose (Gal. 5:22-26). Praise, which has a large place in this Psalm, is, “The fruit of our lips giving thanks in His Name” (Heb. 13:14). We read in the first Psalm of the Christian in his likeness to Christ, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” The believer’s prosperity and fruitfulness depend upon his drawing refreshment from the “Wells of Salvation.”
The Cedar Tree:
The righteous are also likened to the lofty cedar growing on the mountains of Lebanon. Let us consider the illustrative suggestion of the Christian in this picture.
His Positional Height: “He shall dwell on high” (Isa. 33:16). They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever” (Psa. 125:1). By the grace of God, we have been lifted up and set among princes even with the princes of His people.
His Perennial Freshness: The cedar of Lebanon is an evergreen, its leaves remaining for two years. What a picture of the saint’s spiritual beauty manifested in joy and grace as he walks in uprightness before the Lord! The cedar is noted for its aromatic perfume, and so the believer should be as a sweet savour of Christ unto God. As he sits in worship at the Lord’s supper, the praise and the thanksgiving which ascend from his heart to God are as the fragrance of spikenard (S of S. 1:12). We read that when Jesus sat at the table in Bethany (John 12) the odour of the ointment with which Mary anointed His feet filled the house; in like manner, the expressions of gratitude to Christ for His love and grace in giving Himself for us ascend, like Noah’s sacrifice (Gen. 8:20-21) of which we read, “The Lord smelled a sweet savour.” The sacrifice of giving to the Lord of our substance is also spoken of as “an odour of a sweet smell” (Phil. 4:18). The believer in his worship, service, and sacrifice, ever should be a sweet fragrance before the Lord.
The cedar is spoken of as if it were incorruptible, for it resists all insects that cause decay. The Christian, enjoying fellowship with Christ by the power of the Spirit, is able to resist the temptations to which if he yielded, would cause decline in his spiritual vitality.
The Site Intimated:
“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.” Once we were in the wilderness of sin, far away from the courts of the Lord, but God by His saving power, through His Word and Holy Spirit, has planted us in His courts, so that now we are called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for His own glory (Isa. 61:3).
The “courts of the Lord” suggest separation from the world. In order to be useful and fruitful in the Lord, the child of God must live in separation from every form of evil. Abraham was called from Ur of the Chaldees where idolatry was rife, to a life of separation, and the Lord blessed him so that his life was fragrant and fruitful. The command to His people today is, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor. 6:17-18).
His courts as well afford protection, for His presence is there. Throughout the Psalms the presence of the Lord resulted in salvation from the enemies around. Moreover, “In His presence is fulness of joy” (Psa. 16:11). Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord” (Psa. 144:15).
The Statement Uttered
“Those that be planted… shall flourish in the courts of our God.” The expression reads in the margin, “They shall be fat or full of sap.” This would suggest spiritual health. Dwelling in habitual fellowship with God will result in full growth, in spiritual maturity. “They shall bring forth fruit in old age (V. 14). This promise assures us that there need be no diminishing of fruitfulness in the Christian life because of advancing years; accordingly, it hints at the beauty of maturity in Christian experience. There is nothing lovelier than elderly saints of God, growing in heavenly mindedness, in conformity to the Divine image, and in grace, as they ripen for their eternal home.
The purpose for which we have been planted in the courts of the Lord is to enjoy the riches of Divine grace, and manifest the beauty of the life of Christ in our mortal bodies. This will be well pleasing to the Lord, and God will be glorified thereby.
“God, Who touchest earth with beauty,
Make me lovely too;
Keep me ever by Thy Spirit,
Pure, and strong, and true.”
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No Christian is safe when his soul is slothful, and his God is far from him. Every Christian is always safe as to the great matter of his standing in Christ, but he is not safe as regards his experience in holiness, and communion with Jesus in this life. Satan does not often attack a Christian who is living near God. It is when the Christian departs from his God, becomes spiritually starved, and endeavours to feed on vanities, that the devil discovers his vantage hour. Oh for grace to walk humbly with our God!
—C. H. Spurgeon