Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Grass Season

It's lawn mowing season again. It's time for Dads everywhere to bust out their short shorts, dark socks, and white tennis shoes. It's time to do manly stuff in the yard while simultaneously showing the world that our pasty legs haven't seen the sun since last summer. There are a few things we can be certain of this time of year. 1) Our daughters will be mortified by our lack of fashion sense. 2) Our allergies will flare up mercilessly. 3) And the grass will grow endlessly. That means that this is a good time of year to consider what God's Word says about the wicked. Psalm 92:7 says, "Though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever."

It often appears that those who disobey God's commands are winning in the game of life. Their popularity, fame and riches increase and we're tempted to envy them. But we must remember that they are like the grass which is easily scorched in the heat of the summer. In ancient Palestine dry grass was even used as fuel for fires due to lack of firewood (ESV Footnote on Luke 12:28). So what Jesus says is true. The grass that is alive in the field today is thrown into the oven tomorrow (Luke 12:28). The psalmist uses this image of grass to remind us that God's judgment has already been pronounced on the wicked. They shoot up quickly like the grass, but just like the grass they will be mowed down in their prime.

Compare the wicked to what the psalmist has to say about the righteous. Psalm 92:12-14- "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." It appears that the palm tree the psalmist compares the righteous to is the date palm which has a long life and produces fruit (ESV Footnote on Psalm 92:12-15). These are two things that grass does not do. But why the cedar? Cedars of Lebanon were widely considered to be the best trees in the world for use in building. But there is more to it than this.

Though the selection of these trees may seem insignificant to you, they allow the psalmist to add a beautiful layer of double meaning for his original readers. I believe this psalm may have been written at a time when Solomon's temple was still standing because the author is drawing on images from that temple. The psalmist speaks of the righteous being "planted in the house of the LORD" and "flourishing in the courts of our God." According to I Kings 5 and 6, both of these trees played a key role in Solomon's temple. The temple itself was constructed out of cedars of Lebanon overlaid with gold while the inside of the temple was covered in carvings of palm trees. The psalmist ultimate point is that the righteous will enter God's presence but he pulls in a powerful image to accomplish it. In essence, he says the righteous are like the cedars used to make God's house, they are like the palm trees engraved on the walls of the temple. In Heaven they will get to spend every day in God's presence, watching what He is doing. What a beautiful image! How much better is the end of the righteous man than that of the wicked!

So when your progress in this life seems slow, when it appears that the wicked are passing you by, and when you are tempted toward despair or envy- remember the grass. Remember what the wicked man's end will be. They will be cast out of God's presence into outer darkness (Matthew 22:13). And remember the end of the righteous, dwelling in the midst of God's glorious presence forever. May this motivate us all to persevere in the way we should go.

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