the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Fausset's Bible Dictionary
shuwshan . Matthew 7:28-29. The white lily plant is used as fuel when withered; but it does not grow wild in Syria. Rather the scarlet martagon (Lilium chalcedonicum ). "The lily at Huleh is large, the three inner petals meet above, forming a gorgeous canopy such as art never approached, and king never sat under even in his utmost glory. Our flower delights in the valleys, grows among thorns, and I have sadly lacerated my hands in extricating it. Nothing can be in higher contrast than the velvety softness of this lily and the tangled hedge of thorns about it. Gazelles still feed among these flowers, and you can scarcely ride through the woods N. of Tabor without frightening gazelles from their flowery pasture" (Thomson, Land and Book, 2:18). Compare Song of Solomon 2:1, "lily of the valleys" (Song of Solomon 2:2) "among thorns," (Song of Solomon 2:16) "he feedeth (in Song of Solomon 4:5 'roes') among the lilies."
The words of Solomon's Song (Song of Solomon 5:13), "his lips like lilies," require a ruby or scarlet color, not white. But as" lily" was used also in a general sense for a lovely, bell-shaped flower, the Egyptian lotus of the Nile is probably meant in the "lily work" ornamentation of the capitals ("chapiters") of Solomon's temple pillars, and the rim of the brazen sea (1 Kings 7:22-23). So Egyptian architecture delights in lotus headed capitals. "He shall grow as the lily" (Hosea 14:5), i.e. rapidly selfpropagating, one root often producing 50 bulbs (Pliny, Nat. Hist. 21:5). Stanley thinks "lily" includes numerous flowers of the tulip or amaryllis kind blooming in the early summer or the autumn of Palestine. J. Hamilton (Imperial Dictionary) remarks on "consider the lilies," "wondrous is God's chemistry who out of black mould and invisible vapour builds up that column of chrysolite, and crowns it with its flaming capital.
How strange is God's husbandry! Instead of taking the lily into a conservatory, He leaves it out among the thorns. The same soil from which one nature can only extract the harsh astringent sloe with its cruel spines yields to another flexile leaves and balmy blossoms. So the life of faith is not lived in the convent or in the sanctuary (alone), but out of doors in the unsympathising world, in the midst of secular men. From the same soil and the same atmosphere from which others derive repulsive attributes, the believer can absorb grace and give forth excellence. The same bounties of providence which make Nabal more churlish make Joseph more generous, tender, and forgiving; the same sunshine which elicits the balm of the lily matures in the blackthorn its verjuice, the same shower which makes thistles rank fills the lily cup with nectar, and clothes it in raiment eclipsing Solomon."
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Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Lily'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​fbd/​l/lily.html. 1949.