The Tale of Four Poplars



In the Scriptures God often uses trees to speak a message to His people. It may be a fig tree, an olive tree, a palm tree, or even an apple tree. The list is endless. In this study I am going to share my story of four poplar trees. The lesson will be spiritual. But the study is especially for you who may be facing a transitional time in your walk with Jesus.

This is Bible Study HF143 - The Tale of Four Poplars.

Each morning in my walk to church I pass by four poplar trees that Betty and I planted some time back. Every time I look at these four trees I get the feeling that these trees have a story to tell.

What is so unusual about these trees? Good question. We laid them out in a row of 10 feet apart. One tree is easily 40 feet tall. The next is about 25 feet. The third 15 feet. The last one is about 4 feet tall. The tiny tree always looks so frail. I even feel a sadness for it.

Here's the problem. Betty and I planted the four trees at the same time. They were originally of equal height. Why was it that further up the hill the taller was the tree? Betty thought it had to do with the water. I felt there must be something more.

In my heart I prayed for the lesson. And on a search I went. This is what I found: 'Do not plant poplar trees in clay, the trees will die.' That was it! Poplar trees must have good soil to grow properly. Clay keeps water from the roots of the trees. This fit the picture of our poplar trees. The higher up the hill, the better the soil. It was both a water and a soil issue. Further down the hill the ground had more clay in it.

Betty and I talked about my findings. We decided to move the tiny frail tree to a new location this fall. We are going to find the best soil available, give it all the water it needs, and watch our tiny poplar grow. (Poplars are actually a fast growing tree.)

So now --- What was the lesson in this? As I pondered on this, the Lord began to show me how these trees can easily represent the growth of a child of God. The soil in which the tree grows can well represent a believer's heart, or it can represent the place where the believer is planted. The water represents the living Word of God. Water in the Scriptures is often a combined symbol of Spirit and Word. You are probably catching the gist about now.

Let's carry this on. What is it that stunts growth in any child of God's life? Just like the clay keeps water from reaching the roots of the poplar tree, if our heart becomes hardened, then the richness of God's Word is unable to produce fruit in our lives.

But what if the soil can be said to represent where the believer is planted? If the believer is under the kind of teaching that tears down his or her life, rather than building it up in Christ, then the believer's life will began to wither. Something must be done.

Betty and I feel sorrow for our tiny poplar tree. After all it began as the equal to the others. But the little tree cannot help itself. We will need, at the proper time, to transplant the tree where it will receive the greatest benefit. Where do we want to transplant it? We want to place it where it can receive the greatest nourishment.

Now take all of what I have shared and see if it applies to a transitional time in your life. When God's people find themselves looking for another church, this does not mean that they are church hoppers. In more cases than not, this is a work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is at work in the transplanting business. The child of God will be placed where he or she can grow the best.

Is there any Scripture that carries the idea of God transplanting His people? Sure there is. You see this especially in symbolisms. When the Lord saw His people withering in the land of their captivity, He said, "For I will set My eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them and I WILL PLANT THEM and not pluck them up." (Jer24:6 Caps for emphasis only.)

In another place the Lord says, "I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully PLANT THEM in this land with all My heart and with all My soul." (Jer32:41 - The idea of 'this land' metaphorically speaks of God's blessings over the life of His children.)

Then we have this wonderful Scripture: "To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, THE PLANTING OF THE LORD, that He may be glorified." (Isa61:3)

The afore Scripture links directly to Jesus Christ. (Note context.) The point is this --- Does the Lord see our withering? Does He see our mourning and our fainting? Yes, a thousand times, yes. His feelings for His children are much, much more that mine and Betty's feelings for our tiny poplar tree. I believe the Lord will transplant His people so that they can become spiritually healthy.

You see, there is actually a warning in the Scriptures against shepherds who abuse God's people and will not care for them as they should. The Lord says, "You shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I WILL DEMAND MY SHEEP FROM THEM and make them cease from feeding sheep." (Cf. Ezek34)

The problem with our little poplar tree was my own ignorance. I did not know what it needed. It was only after I asked the Lord to help me find the problem, that I discovered it's need. It needed tender love and care. It did not need to be jerked up. It needs to be carefully transplanted at the proper time, and into a place where it could grow normally.

This brings me to the instructions Jesus gave Peter, and by virtue of our calling, to every minister of the gospel. Not one time did the Lord tell Peter to beat His sheep, or condemn His sheep, or berate His sheep, or lord it over His sheep. He said this; "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.' He said to him, Shepherd My sheep.'" (Cf. Jn21)

Three times the Lord required Peter to affirm his love for Him. And three times the Lord spoke to Peter about caring for His sheep. God never takes lightly the abuse of His people.

So, are you in a transitional time in your walk with the Lord? This is probably a getting ready time for you. There will be the proper moment for your placement in His body as it pleases Him. Don't be discouraged. Take this time to draw near to the Lord. Don't worry about the time issue. That part is in the hands of the Lord. Your time will come. If Betty and I were to try and transplant our tiny poplar out of season, the little tree would not make it.

But also do this --- Make certain there are no roots of bitterness, or any hardness of heart in you. That area must be taken care of. I remember how the Lord had to work anger and bitterness out of me before He could open a new life-door for me and my family to walk through.

Think about this 'tale of the four poplars.' Does any of this fit your life? Is there any clay in your life? Share on the forum. There could be others that need to hear from you. Often just one encouraging word can serve to do wonders in a believer's life. If you have passed from an unhealthy church environment into a place of great blessings, tell the tale.


This study was originally given to members of Hebraic Foundations on July 27, 2005. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded and pastors Christian Challenge International. It is the copyright of Buddy Martin and is reprinted on this site by permission.


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