Psalm 52: A Prayer of Jesus

Today’s liturgical reading includes Psalm 52.

In the midst of facing fierce opposition, the Psalmist finds his strength from God.

In particular, it seems that David shares the secret to spiritual growth.

In Psalm 52:8-9, he writes,

But I am like a flourishing olive tree
in the house of God;
I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever.
I will praise you forever for what you have done.
In the presence of your faithful people,
I will put my hope in your name, for it is good.

How do we flourish as God’s chosen ones?

By trusting in God’s faithful love forever and ever.

Because when we trust that God loves us, we gain the strength to love God and love others.

Even though evil people work to destroy us, we are able to resist the temptation to fear them. We know that God will bring them down and protect us - for eternity.

There’s a similar idea in Galatians 5.

In Galatians 5:16, we read, “I say, then, walk by the Spirit, and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

Paul goes onto say in Galatians 5:22-25,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

How do we flourish with the fruit of the Spirit? By living by the Spirit and keeping in step with the Spirit.

How does David flourish like an olive tree? He’s in God’s house, enjoying God’s presence, trusting in God’s love.

I’m fascinated by Tremper Longman’s Christological interpretation. He writes:

I find it more productive to read the psalm as a prayer of Jesus, who is attacked by wicked spiritual and human agents, but nevertheless puts his hope in God, and although he suffers death is ultimately victorious (like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God) (Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 15-16) (p. 225).

As a prayer of Jesus, we see that this Psalm is vindicated. Jesus endured the worst evil possible, and yet he rose again, ascended into heaven, and flourishes forever.

For that reason, we have every reason to pray Psalm 52 with confidence ourselves.

To implement this into my life, I can remind myself:

I trust in God’s faithful love. God is making me into a flourishing olive tree.

As a bonus - it’s not from Israel, but Rome… still, here’s a beautiful row of olive trees:

Photo by Kevin Martin Jose (Unsplash)

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