Rise Up, My Love (236): Glorious Palm Trees

Song of Solomon 7:7 “This thy stature is like to a palm tree…” Palm trees tend to be tall and slender, often with a graceful curve reaching upward toward the heavens. This is an almost universally known fact and would be the most obvious reason for the King comparing his bride’s stature to a palm tree. Those of us who’ve been privileged to view more than pictures of these magnificent trees know the soothing pleasure that comes from watching a palm tree sway gently in the breeze.  For most of us, palm trees speak of warmth…of tropical weather and refreshing fruit drinks…of relaxing times of vacation. For our family, who are annual vacationers in Florida, seeing our first palm tree as we travel south brings a great sigh of relief and excitement: “We’re here!” After twenty-four hours in the van, we can get out and stretch our legs! No more snow and cold…just wonderful warmth and sunshine! It’s easy to imagine the king’s delight as he watched his beautiful young bride, as slender and graceful as a palm tree, and anticipated the bliss of sharing in the warmth and freedom of her love.  Researching palm trees also brings to light some other important (but perhaps less known) facts that provide rich food for thought. Most trees from more temperate zones, like these ancient olive trees from the Garden of Gethsemane, are exogenous, which means they grow by yearly adding layers of woody tissue. Age can be determined by counting the rings (one per year) seen in a cross-section of the tree. With age, the trees become wider and wider and the wood extremely hard and unbending. This characteristic is great if you are a tree hoping to be chopped down and turned into a durable piece of furniture, but it’s not so great if you want to continue living and withstanding storms.  In contrast, the palm tree is endogenous, and its softest part is its heart. (In fact, palm hearts are nutritious and considered a great delicacy.) Palm trees send roots deep into the earth in search of hidden springs so that they can survive even in desserts. These characteristics make palms flexible and resilient. When our property was battered by tornado force winds some time ago, over twenty huge deciduous trees were uprooted and destroyed. In contrast, Alan and I were “privileged” to be holed up at an oceanfront resort when Hurricane Irene ravaged the coast of Florida some years ago.   We watched helplessly as the sea began a frothy rage and boiled over. The large picture window in our room bulged, and the mirrors bounced on the walls. The waves and winds battered the palms mercilessly, and yet, they only bowed and bent, they did not break. When we woke up the morning after the storm had passed by, all the windows and the sunroof had blown out of our car, but the palms were upright and dancing in the sunlight again.For a woman to be like a palm tree means that her softest part is her heart…which is a great delight for all who partake of her tender goodness. For a woman to be like a palm tree means that her age is not necessarily determined by her width! For a woman to be like a palm tree means that her tap root goes down, down, down deep to the hidden springs of Living Water where she will be nourished and anchored, so that even though the storms of life batter her, she’ll be able to bend without breaking and lift her head again to sparkle in the morning sunshine.   Another interesting fact about palms is that they are one of the largest and most economically important families of the plant world, and in primitive cultures palms are a major provider of sustenance with a multitude of uses, including food, shelter, and clothing. Anyone who understands the supreme significance of the palm tree as a nurturer and sustainer for the world’s children can immediately understand another type of stature being discussed. “This thy stature is like to a palm tree,” could refer not only to his wife’s physical body build but also to his wife’s significance as a “tree among trees.” (See Song 2:3, where the bride compares her husband to a fruitful tree among the trees of the woods).   As the palm is among the most valuable of trees, so is Solomon’s bride among women. Not only was she graceful and beautiful like the palm, she may well have risen to a place of great significance in the kingdom as a sustainer and provider for those under her care.

(Although I took all these photos, I don’t actually have high quality pictures from our Florida trips or Hurricane Irene [which were taken before I had a digital camera], so I used more recent photos from other places.)

Photos of Hurricane Irene


“In this handout image provided by NASA, Hurricane Irene is seen from space from the International Space Station, as it churns off the east coast of the United States, August 26, 2011, in the Atlantic Ocean. Irene lashed the eastern coast of the U.S. with wind gusts up to 125 miles per hour.”“Throughout its path in the contiguous United States, Irene is estimated to have caused up to $7 billion (2011 USD) in damage and at least 41 deaths, with the death toll still reportedly rising.”“Waves and storm surge pound the boardwalk and the beach at first light as Hurricane Irene slams into Asbury Park, New Jersey, August 28, 2011. Hurricane Irene knocked out power to 3.3 million homes and businesses along the U.S. East Coast, forced two nuclear plants to shut and idled oil ports and refining as it approached New York City early on Sunday.” Do you remember the Hurricane Irene from 1999?

Alan and I waited out the 1999 Hurricane Irene, huddled in the hallway of our Daytona beachfront resort hotel, watching the huge picture glass window literally bulging and vibrating against the force of the hurricane winds…and that was only a Class 1 hurricane.

Even so, the next morning we found that the windows and moon roof of our Saab turbo (rental) car had been completely blown out by the gale-force winds.The 1999 Hurricane Irene dropped 20″ of rain in Miami, caused eight deaths and 800 million in damages, which seemed huge at the time… but has been dwarfed by the unbelievable damage that has occurred this past week.Furthermore, last week’s Hurricane Irene devastated not only the southern Atlantic states, but the entire Atlantic seaboard.

“People gather at Hudson River Park at the end of the day in New York, Aug. 28, 2011. Irene swept through the New York City area on Sunday morning lacking anywhere near the force that had been feared, but still cutting power to more than a million people, toppling trees and flooding some parts of the city.” (Michael Appleton/The New York Times)My brother’s family lives in downtown Manhattan, and frankly, I haven’t been able to connect with them since the disaster, although I’m hoping they made it safely to their Poconos cottage. And, my Connecticut kids live far enough inland and high enough on a hill that they were safe (although a neighbor’s tree blew over). BUT, what about the hundreds of thousands of people who may not have had a car and a home to retreat to.

Where do more than a million displaced Americans go to get warm and dry?May we be praying for our people, and may they look up to God for help.“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).