Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. Genesis 21:33
In Genesis 21, Abraham was “advanced in years,” a biblical euphemism that means Abraham was old. This aged version of Abraham had lived a very full life—one which achieved fullness by receiving the promised offspring of God, by Sarah, a boy named Isaac, the child of promise.
Indeed, Abraham had lived the life he was supposed to live, and was nearing the point of passing the baton of the Covenant off to Isaac and those to come.
And then he plants a tree.
This tree was to honor the dealings God wrought forth between Abraham and Abimelech, but even more so, this tree was to be a lasting reminder to all God had done in the life of Abraham.
And to really get the beauty of this picture, one must consider the Tamarisk tree. It was a desert tree, and so we know that Abraham was standing amid a barren, dry land. And in such a land, the Tamarisk was a tremendously valuable tree. Shepherds and merchants would traverse the desert, and often it was the shade of a Tamarisk that would allow them respite from the scorching sun, and enable them the rest needed to conquer the daunting desert. Furthermore, the Tamarisk was a tree that held in moisture for long periods of time—thus enabling it to survive the harsh climate for centuries. This moisture was held in just underneath its bark, and travelers would often peel away layers of said bark, and chew the moisture from it. In this manner, many a wanderer sustained life for himself and whatever animal he had with him; this tree likely blessed hundreds of travelers with life.
So the picture is this: Old man Abraham was able to bless not just those around him, but those to come. Future generations, long after Abraham had ceased to be, were aided and blessed by the tree he had planted. Some of these journeymen were likely his descendants, and they may not have been aware of Abraham’s role in planting the tree. In fact, all they likely said was a genuine “Praise the Lord,” as they sought refuge in the shade of the Tamarisk.
And all this blessing and worship wrought from a tree Abraham would never get to see take root and grow tall.
What trees are you planting in your own life? What ways are you blessing those around you and those to come, whether they deserve it or not, whether you get credit or not?
In Genesis 12, Abraham was “blessed to be a blessing,” and for those in Christ, we too have been, as the “seed of Abraham,” given this same mandate. Hopefully today is a tree-planting, life-giving day.