What is the Significance of the Tamarisk Tree in the Bible?

When reading the Bible, sometimes there are places and things that are confusing. We want to understand what God’s word is trying to teach us, however it can be difficult to understand the message that the Bible is trying to teach. One instance of this phenomenon is the presence of the Tamarisk Tree. We might ask ourselves, “What is the Significance of the Tamarisk Tree in the Bible?” 

There are three mentions of the Tamarisk tree in the Bible, and each one has its own specific meaning. When we look at each example, a different characteristic is revealed about life and God. The tamarisk tree in the Bible signifies confidence in God’s promises, unselfish focus on the future generations and a remembrance of the Lord’s anointed. 

The Tamarisk Tree of Abraham 

The first reference to the Tamarisk tree arrives in the book of Genesis, during Abraham’s life. Abraham was the Father of the Israelites. In his story, he was a faithful follower of God, who could not have children. 

Although he could not have children, God promised him that he would become a great nation. Abraham would have to have descendants for this to be possible, but Abraham’s wife was barren. 

Even though Abraham’s wife was barren, God promised that he would have more descendants than the stars and the grains of sand on the sea shore. Children were a sign of God’s blessing in those days, so the promise of a family was a big deal. 

Abraham and his wife made some mistakes. They sought out their own way of having kids through a concubine, but eventually God gave Abraham and Sarah a son. Their son was named Isaac. 

After their son Isaac was born, Abraham got in a dispute with his neighbors. Abraham, then, made amends with his neighbor. Following making peace, Abraham planted a Tamarisk tree. 

The tamarisk tree is revealed in Genesis 21:33. It says, “Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.” 

Abraham’s tamarisk tree reveals some significant things about himself and his relationship with God. It demonstrates that he trusted in God’s promises and that he wanted the best for his future family. 

It Signifies A Confidence in God’s Promises 

Abraham clearly trusted in God’s promises. Abraham was coming to the end of his life, and he still planted the tamarisk tree. The tree would have little benefit to his life, because it takes over 400 years for a tamarisk tree to reach full size. 

Abraham would not have planted this tree for himself. He probably would not have even planted it for his son, Isaac’s, sake. Instead, Abraham was planting the tree for the many future generations that would follow him. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 teach us the same mindset that Abraham had. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

Abraham’s actions and mindset communicated a trust in the Lord. If he didn’t trust the Lord to fulfill His promise, then it would have been a waste of time. Instead, Abraham clearly trusted in God and believed that he would do what he said he would. 

Beyond that, Abraham also referred to God as the eternal God and revealed a name of Jehovah in the process. Abraham also knew God’s plan wasn’t complete, because he was in the land of the Philistines, and not the promised land. The planting of the Tamarisk tree was a vote of confidence in God’s promises over a long time.  

For someone who has no family to give an inheritance to, they don’t save money. Their goal is to spend or give away all the money they have before they die, but Abraham was confident that there would be a family to give an inheritance to. That is exactly why he planted the tree. 

It Symbolizes an Unselfish Act for Future Generations 

Another thing that the tamarisk tree might symbolize is Abraham’s unselfishness when it came to his family. As stated before, tamarisk trees take centuries to fully develop. Abraham would not have been able to enjoy the shade of the tree that he planted, but he still planted it. 

Abraham was communicating that he wanted the best for his family and the future generations. He was unselfish, because he knew he wouldn’t benefit from the work he was doing. 

Almost anyone can find motivation when it is in their own self interest, but Abraham was selfless towards the future. The American mindset is that we should seek our own self-interest, but that is not what Abraham believed. 

Although it is not a Christian reference, this idea reminds me of a Greek proverb. Even though it isn’t Christian, there can be spiritual realization from secular sources. The quote says, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” Abraham would never sit in the shade of the tree, but he still planted it. We should adopt this mindset too. 

My great-great grandfather was the first Christian in my family line. He might have known that his faith would live on through my father, but he might not have. He took his family to church and lived a life that was honorable to God. Imparting the blessing of a relationship with God was the greatest inheritance that he gave. 

Abraham is doing the same thing here. He was declaring that God would give him family and that his family would be blessed by his life.  

The Tamarisk Trees of Saul 

There are two more tamarisk trees in the Bible, and they both appear during the life of King Saul. King Saul was the first king of Israel, and he was anointed by God to be the king. 

Saul started as a good leader, but his insecurity quickly led him to failure as a king. He was too conscious of what others thought, so when his successor was anointed he was envious of him. 

King David was anointed to sub seed King Saul after his death, so King Saul sought to kill David. He chased him out of the city and pursued him with the intent of killing him. 

The first tamarisk tree is referenced at this moment. 

The First Tree Shows The Indifference of Nature 

The first tamarisk tree in Saul’s story appears as he pursues David with malicious intent. He was declaring war on David and his men. 

1 Samuel 22:6 recounts the events, “Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul was seated, spear in hand, under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing at his side.”  Saul and his men were posting up David and his. 

Although we’ve seen the Lord Jesus curse trees and make them unfruitful, the tree that Saul sat under was clearly a useful one. It provided shade and cover in the face of war. 

People might ask why the tree was giving shade to such an evil man, but the tree shows the indifference of nature. Trees do not discriminate between right and wrong, instead they are indifferent. Regardless of whether its palm trees or tamarisk trees the heat of the day can be shielded by the cooling effect of the shade. 

God put everything into place, and he created things with a natural order. That is worth noting when it comes to the environment. The environment does not care who you are or what you do, but instead nature was instituted by God to be experienced by people. 

Nature does not discriminate or choose a favorite, but God’s provision is that he is in control of everything. If God wanted to curse the tree he could have. God has authority over nature. We even see Jesus curse a fig tree and make it wither, demonstrating that God is in control. 

The Second Tree Demonstrates a Remembrance for the Lord’s Anointed

Unfortunately, King Saul’s life came to a tragic end. In the heat of battle, Saul and his family were bested, and Saul committed suicide to avoid capture. At the end of Saul’s life, the final tamarisk tree is revealed.

1 Samuel 31:13 says, “Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.” In this verse, the tamarisk tree was used as a burial place for the Lord’s anointed, Saul. 

Although Saul was not a great king or leader, he was still anointed by God. A message that was believed by King David. That although Saul was an evil man, he still deserved to be honored because God chose him. 

In Biblical times, the anointing of the Lord was not an insignificant thing, but it was a promise of the fulfillment of God’s plan through an individual. 

The tamarisk tree provided shade for the bones of the Lord’s anointed, so it was a good thing. 

Final Analysis of the Tamarisk Tree

There are plenty of trees throughout the Bible. Starting with the tree of life, the evergreen tree, and the sycamore trees, there are many referenced to trees. Trees reveal important aspects of life and symbolize things that the Holy Spirit speak through. 

In the middle east there are many trees, including cedar trees, olive trees, and the acacia tree. The references to the tamarisk tree all happen in the Old Testament King James Version Bible, and do not appear in the New Testament at all. The trees of the Bible remind us of the eternal life that God wants to give us and give parallel passages that are throughout the Bible.  

Christian life is all about surrendering to God’s will and allowing him to work His will. Based on the Biblical record, the tamarisk tree symbolizes a trust in God to meet the fulfillment of the promise that he made. Today the shade tree reminds us that God’s son has covered us of our sins, and has made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. 

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