I expect you are familiar with Psalm 92 where, in verses 12 to 14 it says, “The righteous man (and woman) will flourish like a palm tree, he will grow like a cedar of Lebanon, planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield (thrive in) fruit in old age, they will be full of sap and very green, to declare that the Lord is upright and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” This suggested to me that flourishing and being very fruitful, thriving and being full of life (sap) in old age may be linked to being in the courts of our God, ‘planted in the house of the Lord.’
What does this mean? The bible is often the best commentary on itself. What do the Psalms tell me about the courts of the Lord? We enter them with thanksgiving, Psalm 100:4. And what does Psalm 84 say happens in the house of the Lord? ‘Those who dwell in thy house are blessed and are ever praising you’. And Psalm 65:4 tells me that the ones chosen to be near the Lord in His courts “will be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house”
No wonder David in Psalm 27:4-6 says there is one thing that He has asked of the Lord, ‘that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life’, because there He beholds ‘the delightfulness of the Lord’ (AMP.) Sounds like worship and communion to me; he is also kept safe and protected, he offers up sacrifices with shouts of joy, and he sings praises to the Lord.
In Psalm 96:8,9 we are further encouraged to “Give to the Lord the glory of His name, bring an offering and come into His courts, worship the Lord in the splendour of holiness,”. Or consider Psalm 135:2,3 “You who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God” (where we now know we flourish and are fruitful in old age) “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good, sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.”
In summary then, I think we can conclude that thanksgiving, praise and worship are hallmarks of what is going on in the courts of the house of the Lord. And it seems to me that the promise of Psalm 92 is that if I am planted in the courts of the house of the Lord I will flourish and be fruitful and full of sap in old age.
A couple of thoughts: “planted” suggests that I am not in and out. The limited gardener in me knows that if trees keep being moved about they don’t do so well, the roots need to stay put. Developing the attitude of gratitude, leading to a daily lifestyle of thanksgiving, reflected in a healthy habit of frequent, daily, steady, thanksgiving, praise and worship is likely to be connected with flourishing and being fruitful as I grow older, rather than being stunted.
Secondly this is not self-centred flourishing in old age:- retired, slippers on, do what pleases me. Yes, it is a retirement from the warfare of work, Numbers 8:24-26 and the sweat involved in that. It can be moving perhaps to a more restful lifestyle in which to flourish. But it is clear in Psalm 92:14 that they will still yield fruit and will still be green, that is shining and beautiful, and full of sap Isaiah 40:29-31, and still flowing in ministry, Numbers 8:26.
This flourishing and fruitfulness will bring glory to Jesus, and life, healing and the good news of salvation to many. It seems to me that this also chimes with Jesus’ words about letting our light shine. Shining both because of His life in me and because of the things I do. Yet again our friend Caleb at age 85 seems a great biblical example, he was definitely still flourishing, fruitful and full of sap. (Joshua 14:10-12)
So let us take on board how interwoven gratitude and thanksgiving, praise and worship are with being planted in the courts of the house of the Lord, and how the Holy Spirit has indicated that being planted and settled there is where we flourish and are fruitful even at a time of life when we can’t run as fast, walk as far, or pack quite as much into every twenty four hours. I believe this is a thrilling promise and hope to encourage us towards an even greater and more frequent flow of thanksgiving, praise and worship.
And watching my wife over the year that she has been writing this blog, I think it is true and it does happen like that!