Paints are opaque (pigmented) coatings which conceal the grains and color of the substrate and substitute in their place a surface of an entirely different color and texture. If you put paint on wood then the grains of the wood will be concealed completely and replaced by finishing provided by Paint
To perform polish on wood you will require wood filler/ filling materials, staining, sealing material and top coat as per finish required such as Varnish, Spirit or French polish, Melamine based finish; Polyurethane based finish and tools for polishing.
To perform paint on wood you will need Pink primer, filler/ filling materials, synthetic enamel paint and tools for painting.
Paint completely overtakes the finishing of the wooden and the grains of the wood are lost. However this is not a bad thing. A lot of times, you want to do paint on the wood as the paint can handle rough exterior weather where as polish gets damaged quickly. Paint can also provide glossy or matt finishes and paint has many options in colors, shades and styles which are not available in polish. Paint can be done to finish less expensive wood too as the paint would hide the grains of the wood anyway.
The surface of polish finish is ease to clean. More care required for surfaces that are exposed to sun. Such surfaces would require re-polishing after a couple of years. If the surface could be exposed to water then you may want to try paint on wood as the finishing option
Painted surfaces are easier to clean and have more life than polish finish. All you need to do is wipe off the dust with dry cloth or occasionally use moist cloth to clean
Polish finish requires skilled polishing experts as the job requires more skills than painting and also the resultant output is highly dependent on the skills of the polish person along with the polish material.
Polish finish is weak against moisture. Wet weather reduces the life of polish finish.
Painting on wood protects the wood from all weather.
Polish work require less time as it dries quickly.
Paint require more time between two coats as it dries slowly.
The minor defects like pores in the wood etc are covered in polish finish but the other defects like crack in wood and knotting etc are not hiding in polish finish.
The defects like knotting, pores, any sawing defect and cracks etc are very well covered during the painting.