"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon." Psalm 92:12
I’ve been considering this verse for the last couple of months. What does it mean to flourish and what’s so special about the palm tree? Strong’s bible dictionary defines flourish as “to bud, sprout, shoot, bloom.” So to put it in people terms that would be like “growing, transforming, standing upright in character, and producing “fruit” (attributes and products of value to give to the world around us). The righteous1 are supposed to do this like the palm tree. Listed below are some features of the palm tree and some verses that we can emulate. At the end, I’ll share some of my new favorite recipes from one of my favorite members of the palm family, the coconut.
The references to the palm tree occur many places in the Bible. The first occurrence is in Exodus 15:27 describing Elim, the oasis with seventy palm trees and twelve springs of water. One palm tree for each of the seventy elders and one spring of water for each tribe of Israel.2 Bishop K. C. Pillai, an acclaimed authority on the Eastern Culture of the Bible, teaches that there are four types of palm trees that grow in the bible regions: the coconut palm, the date palm, the plantain or banana palm, and the palm tree of the scriptures which is described below as having the following attributes.3
- Uprightness. The palm tree stretches itself straight and tall into the air (up to 80 or 90 ft). It is stately, strong, and upright, not crooked. People would come to Deborah, the first female judge of Israel, under the palm tree for righteous judgement. (Psalm 19:13, Psalm 37:37, Psalm 97:11, Psalm 112:2-4, Proverbs 11:6, Proverb 16:17)
- Strength and Power. Palm trees flourish in harsh environments where the choking sand surrounds it and the burning heat scorches it. Their root systems are so secure that they can withstand severe storms, even monsoons without being uprooted. They are flexible and bend, but do not break. Because of this quality, the palm branches were carried as symbolic tokens of victory for celebrations or to honor people of importance. (Acts 1:8, Ephesians 3:17 & 6:13, 1 Corinthians 15:58, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Romans 8:36-37)
- Fruitfulness. The palm tree bears fruit that can be used for sustenance through all seasons. Not only is the fruit useful, but all parts of the tree are valuable to meet many needs. A recent study reports 360 uses of the coconut palm, in particular, half of which are for food. The fruit and roots have medicinal virtues. The leaves make a variety of articles for domestic use (baskets, clothes, etc.) The fibers of the boughs are used to manufacture thread, ropes, and rigging. The sap can be used to make sugar, liquor and vinegar. And the trunk is excellent wood for building or fuel. (Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Peter 1:5-8, Titus 3:14)
- Guidance. Palm trees in the desert are a sign of the presence of water (Exodus. 15:27). They are a guide to survival for those in a weary land. (Proverbs 11:3 & 23:19, Isaiah 58:11, John 16:13, Acts 8:31, 1 Timothy 5:14)
- Permanence. Palm trees can survive and produce fruit for many, many years. They are known to commonly live past 100 years. They were used in decoration throughout the temple of God during the Old Testament (a copy of the heavenly design revealed in Ezekiel 40) as an emblem of the beauty and perseverance of the people of God. (Psalm 92:13-14 & 112:5-6, Proverb 10:25, Isaiah 60:21, John 5:24)
Though not the palm tree that was frequently referred to in the bible, the coconut palm has many merits as well. The oldest fossils of coconuts have been found in India, dating back to the 1st century B.C.. So, it could have been an available food at the time through trade, though not specifically mentioned. Those of us today living in the Northern Hemisphere are very fortunate to have access to this amazing food even though it only grows in tropical regions.
There are two food products in particular that are made from the coconut that are credited by many as being instrumental in reversing two of the most disturbing disease conditions in our society that pharmaceuticals haven’t been able to help, Autism and Alzheimer's. You don’t have to have a disease, though, to benefit from the healing power of these foods. The first is coconut water kefir and the second is coconut oil.
Coconut Water Kefir
The clear liquid inside young coconuts is loaded with minerals and is sooo delicious and refreshing. It is so pure and sterile that in World War II both American and Japanese doctors found that in emergencies they could use the coconut water in place of sterile glucose for I.V. solutions. The water contains about 2 T of natural sugars (about 50% glucose, 35 % sucrose and 15% fructose).4 For an average healthy person this is fine to drink occasionally, but for those suffering with illness particularly yeast related, like autism, sugars of any kind can aggravate the condition. When this water is fermented using probiotic cultures, the sugars are consumed and the resulting drink becomes even more healthful. I have attached a video for making this wonderful drink yourself.
You can drink it as it is (tart, refreshing and effervescent) or flavor it with a little juice or stevia. It is the perfect rehydration or sports drink. I know what your thinking...“Isn’t this expensive?” Well, yes, if you’re buying individual coconuts at your local co-op. But, if you have an asian market near by, you can usually get them for at least half the price if not less, especially by the case. And, because the turn over is faster, they are often times fresher. So it’s more expensive that soda, but cheaper than beer. I’m gonna tell you another secret...you don’thave to use the expensive culture powder shown in this video. You can use milk kefir or water kefir grains that are often shared for free among many health food communities. They will continue to replicate and last indefinitely as long as you feed them often enough. Because this drink is so helpful for a number of conditions, a popular brand of coco kefir is now selling in the stores for 5 times the cost of making it yourself at home. Here are just a few of it’s benefits.
- Promotes healthy intestinal flora.
- Reduces sugar cravings.
- Contains important nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
- Cleanses the liver and intestines
- Clears your skin for a healthy complexion
- Increases energy and overall feeling of well-being.
The oil is made from the dried coconut meat and has amazing anti-fungal/viral/bacterial properties in addition to tasting delicious and nourishing your brain and body. Coconut oil is so versatile. I use it in everything - sauteeing meat and veggies, baking, homemade nut butter, chocolate/carob frozen treats, moisturizer for my skin and hair and more. Of all the plant based oils, it is the healthiest to cook with since its saturated fat content keeps it stable at average cooking temperatures preventing the production of free radicals. Here are just some of the benefits touted by popular natural health advocate, Dr. Mercola:
- Promotes your heart health
- Promotes weight loss, when needed
- Supports your immune system health
- Supports a healthy metabolism
- Provides you with an immediate energy source
- Keeps your skin healthy and youthful looking
- Supports the proper functioning of your thyroid gland
For more, check out the rest of his article “This Cooking Oil is a Powerful Virus-Destroyer and Antibiotic…” Also be sure to watch this video of a doctor who recovered her husband from alzheimer's simply by adding coconut oil to his food throughout the day.
Another one of my favorite coconut foods is coconut milk. Now, if you’ve never made fresh coconut milk for yourself, you simply must, at least once. It is the most delicious decadent thing I have ever tasted. But, finding a fresh brown mature coconut is difficult and breaking it open to cut out the meat even more so. The whole process is quite tedious and time consuming. So, for most of us, not realistic to do on a regular basis. However, if your lucky enough to have an asian market close to you, you can sometimes find just plain frozen grated coconut meat with no preservatives. In that case, you can just blend it in a blender with enough water to cover and strain out the fiber. Then you have almost fresh coconut milk for less than the cost of canned and without the BPA and preservatives that are commonly found in canned goods. Just don’t throw the pulp away. If you’ve read my last post, you know how I don’t like to waste anything. Well, if you dehydrate the remaining coconut fiber, you can make coconut flour to be used in baked goods or as a coating for pan-fried fish or chicken. I made fried chicken livers with a seasoned coconut flour coating for breakfast a couple weeks ago, and believe it or not, it is now one of my family’s most requested breakfast items. Here’s a great link for that recipe.
And last, but definitely not least, is the wonderful alternative mineral rich palm sugar that has recently become available in natural food stores. It is made from the sap of the cut palm flowers. I often use a mixture of this delicious sugar and stevia to make yummy sweet, but low glycemic, desserts for my family which they very much appreciate. Here’s a link for more info on palm sugar.
I could go on forever about how great coconuts are, but I promise I’ll only share one more cool tidbit. After all the food products are removed from the coconut, the shells that remain are also very valuable. They are ground and used to make filtering media for some of the most effective water and air purifications systems available. This is just a highlight of a few of the benefits of just one member of the palm family. As you can tell I really like coconut. But, if you don’t, that’s ok, because whether you eat coconut of not, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you can still “flourish like the palm.”