Olive tree, Psalm 52

Image from Wikimedia commons

Looking back on this past year, do you find it depressing to think about the tough times? Try focusing on how God got you through them.

David knew persecution. He was God’s anointed, the appointed successor to Saul. But he was continually on the run for his life.

One of the most tragic episodes during his years of flight is recorded in 1 Samuel 21 & 22, When Doeg, the Edomite, reported David’s location to Saul and killed 85 priests at Saul’s command. Saul also ordered the destruction of an entire city–men, women, children, and infants, as well as livestock were killed with the sword.

Knowing this background information increases our understanding of Psalm 52, written after Doeg’s report to Saul, and presumably after the deaths of the priests and people.

How can one make sense of such a tragedy? David begins by acknowledging that although the evil man may boast, God’s steadfast love still endures.

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?
    The steadfast love of God endures all the day.
Your tongue plots destruction,
    like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.
You love evil more than good,
    and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah
You love all words that devour,
    O deceitful tongue (Psalm 52:1-4, ESV).

Evil people plot destruction and love deceit. Yet God will not permit evil to triumph in the end (5-7, ESV):

But God will break you down forever;
    he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
    he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
The righteous shall see and fear,
    and shall laugh at him, saying,
“See the man who would not make
    God his refuge,
but trusted in the abundance of his riches
    and sought refuge in his own destruction!”

David excels at descriptive language. He follows these vivid depictions of the evil man and God’s judgment against him with a beautiful image.

But I am like a green olive tree
    in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
    forever and ever.
I will thank you forever,
    because you have done it.
I will wait for your name, for it is good,
    in the presence of the godly (8-9, ESV).

The one who trusts God, even in what appears to be senseless destruction, is like a verdant olive tree. Believers firmly rooted in God’s love worship together. In the face of great adversity, they are able to live in thankful patience. They trust that God is good and he will manifest his love in his perfect time.

We’ve all had struggles during this past year, but God’s steadfast love sustains his children through every trial and tragedy. Trust him to be with you in the new year.

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