But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it. – Psalm 52:8-9 NASB
David has just been ratted out by Doeg, the Edomite. David, on the run from Saul, has made his way to Nob, to find help from Ahimelech the priest. But little did David know that Saul's chief shepherd, Doeg, was also there in Nob. When Doeg sees that David has come there to find shelter, he makes a bee line back to Saul to give him the news of David's whereabouts. Doeg's betrayal of David would lead to the destruction of the city of Nob and the deaths of all its inhabitants, along with 85 priests. This man's desire to find favor with the king would end up costing the lives of hundreds of innocent men, women, and children.
In this Psalm, written at the very time all this was happening, David compares the Doeg's betrayal with God's blessing. Doeg meant to David harm. His words were deceitful and destructive. But God meant David only good. In fact, David compares himself to an olive tree in the house of God. The olive tree lives for an incredibly long time. I was able to see this first hand when I got the opportunity to visit Israel. In the Garden of Gethsemane you can actually see trees that go back all the way to the time of Christ. Many of the trees in the garden today would have been alive when Jesus prayed there the night of His betrayal. David says that he is like one of those trees. He is prosperous and fruitful in spite of all the harm that Doeg meant to bring on his head. Doeg represents all those who do not turn to God, but choose to seek their refuge elsewhere. "Look what happens to mighty warriors who do not trust in God. They trust their wealth instead and grow more and more bold in their wickedness" (Psalm 52:7 NLT). Doeg was putting his hope in Saul. He wanted to find favor with the king and was willing to turn his back on God to do so. He was probably hoping to get some kind of reward from Saul for squealing on David. His desire for wealth and recognition drove him to do things that were directly opposed to God. But David puts his confidence in God. He acknowledges that God is in control of his life, regardless of how things may look at the moment. What is amazing is that David is writing all this while he is running and hiding from Saul. He is not writing this from the comfort of his palace, long after Saul is dead and gone and any threat to his life is over. No, he is penning these words in the middle of the mess that is his life. Yet he is able to say, "I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it" (Psalm 52:9 NASB). God is prospering David even in the midst of all that is going on. Doeg can't stop the hand of God. Neither can Saul. David knew that the blessings of God were not circumstantial. He knew that he couldn't just look at his surroundings and assume that he was either blessed or not blessed based on what was going on at the time. Like an olive tree, David was going to go through his fair share of storms, dark nights, cold spells, droughts, and days of difficulty. But he would remain green and prosperous because God was with him. We want the prosperity without the pain. We want the fruitfulness without having to remain faithful when the fruit doesn't come as expected. The betrayal of Doeg was readily apparent, but the blessings of God are not always as easy to see. It takes faith to wait on the Lord and trust that He will bless in His time and in His way.
Father, I want to learn to see myself as a green olive tree, growing old and prospering under Your care – regardless of what I see happening around me. I want to be like David, and see Your hand at work in my life even when things don't appear to be going the way I think they should. Give me eyes to see behind the scenes that dominate my life and see You in the background, faithfully working Your plan to perfection. Amen