FLOURISHING OLIVE TREE
Lord, protect me from wicked people around me.
Read PSALM 52
For the director of music. A maskil[b] of David. When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”
1 Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
2 You who practice deceit,
your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.
3 You love evil rather than good,
falsehood rather than speaking the truth.[c]
4 You love every harmful word,
you deceitful tongue!
5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.
6 The righteous will see and fear;
they will laugh at you, saying,
7 “Here now is the man
who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
and grew strong by destroying others!”
8 But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
9 For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good.
a Psalm 52:1 In Hebrew texts 52:1-9 is numbered 52:3-11.
b Psalm 52:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
c Psalm 52:3 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verse 5.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments” (Rev. 19:1,2).
This psalm reminds readers that evil cannot endure forever. Those who suffer under oppressive regimes today, where leaders boast openly of their power to make trouble, may feel overwhelmed by a sense of futility. Where is one to go for justice? On a smaller scale, we may encounter malicious people, who, perhaps out of prejudice against skin color, ethnic origin or social background, deliberately put us into awkward situations in order to humiliate us. Likewise, manipulators can skillfully use words to emotionally blackmail us, landing us in circumstances where we feel trapped. Even if we do not experience this personally, we may know others who have.
Despite what often look like impossible situations, the spiritual reality may be different. God is aware of evil and will ultimately uproot the wicked (5). I remember my father often saying during the Communist rule of Hungary that such a system built on lies, selfishness and oppression ultimately cannot endure because God is just. My father lived long enough to see his conviction become a reality, even though he did not expect it to happen in his own lifetime. Whether judgment comes promptly or slowly, however, we need to trust in God.
The psalmist contrasts the boastful wicked who depend on their wealth and power (7) with his own trust in God’s unfailing love, which will lead him to flourish like an olive tree (8). Olive trees could survive for centuries, fruiting usually every other year; even when the main trunk has died, there would be new shoots coming up from it, prolonging life (Marvin E. Tate, Psalms 51–100, 38). What is the secret of such trust? Like a tree needs water to survive, our trust needs God’s presence (what the psalmist describes as God’s house) to keep thriving. When we live in that presence, we can see God’s reality.
Remember in prayer those who feel overwhelmed by human evil. Seek the Lord’s presence daily and live by his reality.
Lord, thank You for making me a green olive tree in Your house so that I may praise You forever.