Like a Thriving Olive Tree

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.

Psalm 52:8

Psalm 52 begins with criticism of a “great warrior,” whom the heading of the Psalm identifies as “Doeg the Edomite” (see 1 Sam. 21-22). This warrior uses his tongue to boast of his crimes and to lie in order to destroy others. But, in time, God will “uproot” him from the land of the living.

In contrast to this uprooted tree, the psalmist is “like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God” (52:8). The Hebrew describes this tree literally as “green” or “fresh” (ra'anan in Hebrew). The NLT rightly renders the sense of this adjective with “thriving.” Whereas the uprooted “tree” will wither and die, the psalmist flourishes.

Why? What is the difference? Unlike the boastful warrior, the psalmist lives “in the house of God.” He remains firmly planted in God’s own presence. Moreover, he trusts not in his power, wealth, or clever words, but in God’s unfailing love. His relationship with God enables him to be forever fresh and fruitful.

When we see people around us getting ahead through deceit and verbal attacks, we might be tempted to join in. Too often these days, Christians in business and in the public sphere sound just as angry and just as “spin-ful” as those they oppose. But we are called to a different way, a way of dwelling with God and trusting him. Thus we reject the practices of this world in order to reflect God’s loving and truthful presence.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever known someone like Doeg? How have you responded to this person? Are you ever tempted to imitate their behavior? What helps you to trust in God and be deeply rooted in him?

PRAYER: Gracious Lord, as you know, we have plenty of “Doegs” in our world today. There is no shortage of people who use their words to tout their crimes and cut others to shreds. It is tempting, Lord, to imitate these people, especially when we see them advancing their agenda.

But you have called us to a different way, a way that begins with living in your presence. Only when we are rooted in you can we remain fresh and fruitful. So help us, dear Lord, to abide in you, to draw sustenance from you, and to imitate your ways, not the ways of this world.

All praise be to you, O God, because you nurture and sustain us, making us fruitful when we are planted in you. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.