Studying the life of David, I became curious when I read that King Saul's ashes were buried under a Tamarisk Tree after He died. So, I did research to figure out what the significance of a tamarisk tree is when used in the bible and found it's a beautiful thing to those who are numbered among God's people.
Firstly, the tamarisk tree is only mentioned four times in the bible.
Now before I even mention the tamarisk tree's significance in the bible, let me explain the nature of the tamarisk. The tamarisk tree can pretty much be described as a "selfish tree". With extremely deep roots, a tamarisk takes in about 1000 liters of water a day! This makes it hard to care for a tamarisk tree in the sense that it depletes the water supply for those in the region surrounding the tamarisk. Not only that, the leaves and branches of the tree cause for the ground surrounding it to be covered with a salty residue that disables other plants from growing around it! As if that weren't bad enough, this salt increases the risk of fire in the area where the tamarisk grows. However, the tamarisk not only survives such fires, but it also causes them to multiply being that hundreds of seeds PER TAMARISK TREE are now able to grow in a nitrogen/salt filled environment; suited for the growth of tamarisk trees. The only considerate thing that tamarisk's provide for non-tamarisk's is shade and nesting places for some species of birds.
So you see, when I say the tamarisk is a "selfish tree" what I'm saying is that it is hard for people or other plants to dwell in an area where tamarisk's are planted/growing. Yet, the same things that make it hard for others to dwell in that area are beneficial for the growth of tamarisks. This is interesting in the sense that the first reference of the tamarisk was in Genesis 21 when Abraham planted one. This comes after Abraham had lied to Abimelech and told him that his wife was his sister. The bible says Abimelech "took" Abraham's wife and God came to him in a dream and said "Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
Abimelech had no idea that Sarah was Abraham's wife and it was because of Abraham's dishonesty that Abimelech had taken Sarah in the first place! Nevertheless, you see God selfishly preparing an environment for His own people to dwell seemingly having no real remorse for the lives of the people around them.
God then says to Abimelech in the dream:
“Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
Fearing his life, Abimelech follows God's orders and goes down to meet Abraham. Now 2 things should be noted here:
- Abimelech was a king in that region; THE king of that region
- And Abraham had come into HIS TERRITORY; not the other way around
Nevertheless, when Abimelech went down to Abraham (following God's orders), Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech and then planted the tamarisk tree. This signifies that this region is now on God's side and Abimelech (and his people) are now, by association, a part of the favored clique that is God's people. This is similar to the way the tamarisk tree provides a safe dwelling environment only for other tamarisk's and some species of selected animals. It is way better to be on the side of the tamarisks than it is to be consumed by their very presence!
On the flip side, in the last three instances where the tamarisk tree is mentioned, this is when King Saul was trying to kill future King David. First Saul is sitting under a tamarisk right before murdering all of God's priests. Then, when Saul finally dies in war His ashes are buried under a tamarisk tree (the three scriptures where this takes place are the last three scriptures listed above). As we know, Saul wasn't exactly favored by God in either of these instances. This signifies the negative aspects of being around a tamarisk tree while not being one of the tamarisks. It is not beneficial.
Saul was trying to kill David the first time he is mentioned to be under a tamarisk. The mere mentioning of the tamarisk was a symbol of the fact that Saul was not going to prevail against God's favored servant. Since Saul was no longer numbered as one of God's people, being under a tamarisk only means that damage was inevitable for him. As suspected, Saul dies in war without ever harming David. Metaphorically, he is then burned and his ashes are buried under a tamarisk! Eerie...
So the mentioning of the tamarisk tree in the bible, shows God's loyalty and unmerited favor towards his people and those who his people are at peace with. Remember, the bible says that no weapon formed against you will ever prosper and every tongue that rises up against you will be condemned. You can rest assured that the battle is not yours; the battle is THE LORD'S and if the King of kings is on your side, victory is assured!
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