Olive Tree (By: Chris Barnes)
Text: Psalm 52
OBSERVE: In verses 1-4, the psalmist blasts an evil person. The psalmist sarcastically calls him a mighty hero, but in reality, this person is a disgrace to God because of his wicked actions. Doeg the Edomite fits this picture well. Then in verses 5-7, we read about the downfall of the wicked as God will eventually judge this wicked person as he deserves. The righteous, who were the victims of his oppression, will witness his destruction and mock him because he tried to protect himself by his own strength. This is unlike the righteous who put themselves under God’s protection. In the final two verses, we read that the righteous will flourish. In a similar way that a olive tree is a symbol of life and fertility, God’s protection gives the psalmist hope and leads the composer of this psalm to worship God continually.
INTERPRET: This psalm shares traits of many types of psalms, but in the end it is a psalm of confidence. The psalmist addresses an evil person, who celebrated the destruction he leaves behind him. The title of the psalm names Doeg the Edomite as this evil person and this story is found in 1 Samuel 7; 22: 6-23. However, in spite of the threat, the psalmist knows the evildoer will be uprooted, while the psalmist himself is like an olive tree which is productive, healthy and alive. Thus the psalmist praises God for what he has done for him.
According to the title, this historical event inspired the writing of Psalm 52. Even so, the psalm is historically non-specific, so it can be used in later, similar, but not identical situations.
APPLICATION: Psalm 52 reminds both ancient and modern readers that God is the only true source of protection and prosperity. While on the surface it may look like the wicked person may win, the truth is that God will bless the righteous. Just as olive trees flourished and were of great importance to the Israelite agriculture, so too will the righteous flourish and be of great importance to the Kingdom of God.
Perhaps for us today, this psalm can be more helpful to read as a prayer of Jesus.
Jesus was attacked by wicked spiritual and human agents but nevertheless put his hope in his Heavenly Father. Although Jesus suffered death, he was ultimately victorious. Here again we see Christ as our ultimate example, for when we trust in God’s unfailing love, we also become like an olive tree flourishing in the House of God.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to not lean on my own strength but to trust in your protection. May I prosper through your unfailing love so that I may be productive, healthy and alive like an olive tree. Thank you for the righteousness of your Son, so that I may be righteous. AMEN.
SONG: Psalm 52 - Olive Tree
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.