In general, biblical references to flowers use flowers as analogies or adjectival phrases to help the reader picture the textual concept that the scripture is communicating. Flowers in the Bible are symbols of delicate life and beauty. They are used to convey messages of God’s comfort as well as messages of the perishable nature of man.
Flowers of Beauty
Song of Solomon 2:13 is part of a love story. This passage uses the fragrance of “blossoming vines” to beautify the text and add sensual images to the love poem. In two other examples of more cosmic proportions, Hosea 14 describes Israel’s repentance toward God for having worshiped other gods. In return, God showers Israel with healing. The following description of the renewed Israel uses images of beautiful lily and vine blossoms. Then 1 Kings 6:18 describes how the first temple was decorated with flowers. The temple was where the Israelites encountered God; considered the most holy place on Earth. Flowers were seen as a fitting decoration for such a setting. No specific flower is mentioned here, merely the general phrase “open flowers.”
A Picture of Death
Contrary to being a picture of beauty, flowers are also known for their short life and delicate nature. Nahum 1:4 uses this characteristic to convey a message of God’s anger against Nineveh. In essence, the picture communicated here is that in the face of God’s righteous power, people who sin against him are like flowers that wither quickly, just like the “blossoms of Lebanon.” The short life of a flower is compared on a more individual level to man’s lifespan on Earth in Job 14:2. Similarly, Job 15:33 likens the life of a wicked man to an “olive tree shedding its blossoms.” One interesting thing to note is that even while these examples are obviously conveying a message of death, there is still beauty associated with the imagery.
Do Not Worry
Perhaps in one of the most well-known New Testament references to flowers, Matthew 6:28-29 compares the care God shows in providing for the lilies with the care God shows in providing for his people. The language is beautiful, saying that the lilies are even more beautiful than King Solomon himself, and if God cares that much for a flower that will perish in a day, imagine how much more he will care for his people. This text is in the midst of multiple parables that attempt to help the listener learn the lesson, using concrete images. In this specific text, the method is the same. Flowers are used as a concrete example to show the listeners that they do not need to worry about having enough clothing or food.
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