Like a Fruitful Tree
(9) For behold your enemies, Yahweh, for behold your enemies will perish. All evildoers will be scattered, (10) but you have exalted my horn like (that of) a wild ox. You have poured over me fresh oil. (11) My eyes have seen the downfall of my adversaries. My ears have heard of the defeat of my foes. (12) The righteous person will flourish like the palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. (13) Planted in the house of Yahweh, they will flourish in the courts of our God. (14) They still bear fruit in old age. They will be vigorous and luxuriant (15) to declare that Yahweh (is) upright. My rock, (there is) no injustice in him.
This segment begins with the repeated phrase, “for behold your enemies,” emphasizing Yahweh’s triumph as well as the triumph of all who trust in him to give them the victory. The imagery of verse 10 reminds us of the provision made for those who are under Yahweh’s care in Psalm 23: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Ps. 23:5).
After recounting Yahweh’s personal blessings (vss. 9-11), the psalmist broadens his focus to include all who are righteous (vss. 12-15). He uses the familiar figure of a flourishing tree, planted in Yahweh’s house, producing fruit even in old age, as a way of describing how God blesses those who honor him. This should remind us of two other psalms that use similar imagery: Psalms 1:3 & 52:8.
I. Yahweh will lift me up while bringing my enemies down. (9-11)
II. Yahweh will prosper the righteous like a fruitful tree. (12-15)
Those opposed to Yahweh will be brought down and cut off while the righteous will be exalted and will prosper.
The extended metaphor of the two fruitful trees which concludes the psalm (vss. 12-15) suggests at least three applications:
#1 - The palm tree, likely the date palm, was prized for the abundant harvest of fruit it regularly produced. The cedars of Lebanon were valued for their lumber. Both outwardly and inwardly, the life of the righteous person is of great benefit to all.
#2 - Both trees were planted and cultivated so as to beautify the courts of Yahweh’s house (vs. 13). The life of the righteous person is of great value to God because it serves to adorn his dwelling place.
#3 - Like a healthy tree, the righteous continue to bear fruit even when they grow old. They remain “vigorous and luxuriant” throughout long and productive lives (vs. 14).
This reminds us of something else that is well known, a truth implied but not specifically mentioned in this psalm. Trees of value take many years to grow and mature. The psalmist is not describing a sapling that springs up quickly to produce one harvest and then dies, but rather a lifetime of growth and many harvests over a fruitful span of years. What a lovely way to portray those who devote their lives to serving and glorifying Yahweh!