Multiple scriptures discuss “the tree of life,” referring either to the second named tree in the Garden of Eden, representing immortality (Genesis 2:9, 2 Nephi 2:15, Alma 12:22-26, Alma 42:2-5) or to the focal point of Lehi’s dream, representing the love of God as manifest through Jesus Christ (1 Nephi 8:10, 1 Nephi 11:25, 1 Nephi 15:22, 28, 36).
But some scriptures use this metaphor in a more general way, to represent the blessings we can each receive from God in our individual lives. Here are a few examples from the book of Proverbs:
- “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding…. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her” (Proverbs 3:13, 18).
- “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).
- “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
- “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).
These passages remind me of Alma’s use of the metaphor in his sermon to the Zoramites. Rather than describe an existing tree which they need to find, he invites them to plant the word of God in their hearts and nurture it, until it becomes a tree of life for them:
If ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.Alma 32:41
I like that imagery. God is capable of blessing us with eternal life, but we must choose to receive the gift. We have to make it part of ourselves. As the seed grows, we grow. The growth Alma is describing is our own spiritual maturation until we are able to receive all of the blessings God wants to give us.
Today, I will be grateful for all of God’s blessings which enrich my life and bring me closer to Him. I will strive to nourish His teachings in my heart, knowing that they can engender spiritual growth and help me achieve my full potential with God’s help.
Paul—check out the podcast “Talking Scripture” and this weeks discussion of Proverbs/the Book of Mormon re: the Tree of Life, the Word of Wisdom, specifically the promise of “health in the navel”. Very informative! Thanks for all you do!
Thanks, Brent! I’ll check it out.