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I Said, I Will Go Up to the Palm-Tree (Palm Sunday)
Song of Solomon 7:8
It is worth while noticing how often expressions of faith, and hope, resolution, and penitence, begin with that 'I said'. We begin by saying the doing is a very different matter. Our Lord's was doing first, and saying afterwards: 'the former treatise have I made of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach'.
I. 'I said, I will go up to the palm-tree.' None ever doubted that by this palm-tree is meant the Cross. It is as though the faithful soul had, at the first commencement of her true service of her Lord, looked on the Cross as the sign of all victory, the form of all glory, the crown of such innumerable: triumphs. But she forgot that it was something else besides all this that the struggle preceded the victory, that the wilderness came before the Promised Land, that the Cross came first and then the palm.
This true and living palm, this Cross, with its precious fruits, is set before us, and we must go to it; go up to it, mind: for uphill work it is, as we all know, as, the more we have tried to draw near to it, the better we know. Like that palm, it flourishes) best in barren and dry lands where no water is: the heavier weights it has to bear, like the palm, it grows; the better.
II. 'I will take hold of the boughs thereof.' And how? Surely, in the first place, by clinging to them as the only firm hold in the evil day. We have all read of shipwrecked men, when washed by some enormous wave on the shore, how they have grasped at some rock or stump, and held on to it as for very life during the recoil of the wave So it is that, in the shipwreck of this world, we must cling on to the Cross: no one ever perished there yet: the thief was saved that grasped it in the very last hour: Judas would there have been saved if he had cast Himself at the foot, and had cried to Him that hung thereon, 'I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me'.
III. But why are we to apply this verse to ourselves, and think of our own poor sayings, when the very time would rather have us refer them to our Elder Brother, the voice of Whose Blood will so soon cry from the ground: 'I said, I will go up to the palm-tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof. And so He did twice. Once, when He took them up in His arms to carry them to the top of Calvary; lastly, when with a still firmer and more painful grasp, a grasp which nothing but death could loose, He took hold on them there. Had He let them go, He had let us go along with them; but seeing it is written, 'My Father which gave them Me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand'; therefore, He still held them fast, not willing, even in the act of death, to be separated from them.
J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Song of Songs, p. 291.
References. VII. 8. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Song of Songs, p. 286; see also p. 301, and Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i. p. 224. VII. 11-13. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x. No. 605; vol. xviii. No. 1066. VII. 12, 13. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Song of Songs, p. 307.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 7". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany