She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
Proverbs 3:18 (KJV)
Tree of life – Have you ever thought about what the tree of life might symbolize? There is plenty of commentary expounding upon the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but not a whole lot about the tree of life. Much of that commentary states the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the law of God, but this verse from proverbs suggests differently.
At the beginning of Proverbs chapter 3, we read…
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
So we’re talking about the law here. Later, as we read in verse 18, Solomon suggests that the law is the tree of life. How interesting. This tends to correlate with several verses from Scripture. First, in Proverbs 3:2, Solomon states that the law will give long life and peace. Apostle Paul repeats these words in Romans 8:6 concerning the spiritual mindedness of keeping the law. Wouldn’t it make sense that the tree of life gives long life?
The Rabbis believed this comparison to be true as well.
He showed him (Moses) words of Torah, which are compared to a tree, viz. (Mishlei 3:18) “It (Torah) is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it, etc.”
Since it is written, “A healing tongue is a tree of life,” (Pro. 15:4) and the “tree of life” only refers to the Torah, as it is said, “it is a tree of life to those who grasp onto her,” (Pro. 3:18). The language of the Torah makes the tongue fluent.
To go further in our study, the verse from Proverbs states that “happy” are all those who hold on to her. Where have we read this before?
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
The word “happy” from Proverbs is ‘asher which is the root of the same word, “Blessed” (‘esher), from Psalms 119. Both words reflect a form of happiness found in keeping the law.
So now that we have some strong evidence to support God’s holy word, we can accept that the law of God is the tree of life. I understand that it makes more sense to categorize the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as the law… but unfortunately that’s not what the Bible reveals. And so we’re forced to adjust our understanding to fit the teachings of God.
The correlations don’t stop there. Think about the two cherubims posted to guard the path to the tree of life at the gates of the Garden of Eden. The next time two cherubims are mentioned are in Exodus when they are made of gold and placed on the lid of the ark of the covenant. What did the ark contain? Yes! The law of God… two cherubims guarding the tree of life… again!
So next time you want to partake in the tree of life, start by simply keeping the law of God.