The Parable of the Thistle and the Cedar (2 of 15) by Clarence E. Macartney

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The Parable of the Thistle and the Cedar (2 of 15)
Series: The Parables of the Old Testament
Clarence Macartney
2 Kings 14:8-14


Amaziah, king of Judah, had gained a victory over Edom in the Valley of Salt, where he slew ten thousand men and took the town of Selah. This victory over the desert tribes unduly elated him and moved him to challenge the king of Israel to combat. Because he had slain a few thousand in the Valley of Salt, he thought he could cross swords with the kingdom of Israel, then at the height of its godless splendor and military power. He sent messengers to the king of Israel, Joash, saying: ''Come, let us look one another in the face.'' In other words, ''Let us meet in battle and see who is stronger.''

Joash scorned the impudent challenge. Half amused, half angry at the insult, he answered with the parable of The Thistle and the Cedar. ''The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, 'Give thy daughter to my son to wife' and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon and trod down the thistle.'' The cedar did not deign to notice the arrogant proposal of the thistle. But a wild beast, a prowling denizen of the forest, seeking after his prey, passed that way and set his great paw upon the impudent thistle, and the place that once knew it knew it no more forever. The viewless winds caught up the seed and fiber of the thistle and carried them hither and yon. But the tall cedar, not even beholding the end of the thistle, reigned on in solitary dignity and might.

This is one of the shortest fables on record, and one of the most effective. It was a crushing bit of irony. For Judah in that day to challenge Israel to combat was like the thistle proposing affinity with the cedar. But Amaziah did not profit by the lesson. He insisted upon a trial of strength. This was granted him in Beth-Shemesh. And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.

''The thistle that was in Lebanon said to the cedar that was in Lebanon.'' Both cedar and thistle flourished in Lebanon. In the plan of God, noble and ignoble characters thrive side by side, worship in the same church, live in the same home, toil in the same shop, travel on the same train, and pass on the same street. Wherever you see a stately cedar lifting its head above the forest, you can find the thorn, the thistle, the bramble. There are men who are like the cedar; they have strength and the beauty of dignity. They have vision, overtopping the other trees. They tower above the dust, smoke, mist, and hold communion with the lonely stars. They are far removed from the pettiness and the meanness and sordidness which play so large a part in the lives of ordinary mortals, and when they fall they go down with a crash that makes the earth shake and leaves a lonely place against the sky. Side by side with them live men of the order of the thistle-arrogant, presumptuous, mean, fault- finding, backbiting, co ...


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