“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God, I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.” [Psalm 52:8]
I like to think of King David as the poetic hipster kind of guy. Can you imagine this guy at a coffee house open mic night, maybe beating a little drum and reciting some of his Psalms to the crowd? He compares himself to an olive tree and the crowd goes wild, snapping their fingers and whispering about how deep he is. I’m in the crowd too, and I’m digging the poem, until he says he’s like a “green olive tree.” All of the other deep hipster poets are snapping and whatnot and I’m in the middle of the group like, “what? Guys…he just compared himself to a freaking tree…?”
I’m obviously not very poetic. Are olive trees trusting or something? I seriously don’t understand. Oh David, I’m drowning in your deep, poetic thinking.
OBVIOUSLY I googled olive trees to see what was so great about them. I was pretty surprised at what I found.
1) Olive trees must exist in a stable society and peaceful environment. In other words, these trees are complete divas. They need stability before they will produce any fruit. Sometimes they won’t produce anything until they’ve had eight years of growth. EIGHT YEARS?! Gosh.
2) Olive trees were responsible for the rise and fall of many empires. Because they could provide so many things to a community, olive trees could literally make or break a kingdom. Everything coming from an olive tree is valuable: oil, wood, soap, fruit, and basically anything else you can think of came from these trees. Medicine was produced from olive trees as well. Talk about a money tree…when empires would battle, they would attack the olive orchards. No olives, no kingdom. Simple as that!
3) Olive trees are a symbol of peace and goodwill. So naturally, when one empire destroyed another empires olive orchard, that meant there was no longer peace between the two communities. As if the giant bulldozer heading toward their farm wasn’t a sign…
4) Mythology records say that when Athena, the goddess of wisdom and peace, struck her magic spear down on the earth, an olive tree grew and that became Athens, Greece. I don’t know how familiar you are with Greek mythology, but many Athenians believe that the original olive tree still stands today, and people used to get the death sentence just for cutting down an olive tree. These trees were not only a great source of wealth, they were sacred to the people as well.
Biblically, olive trees are a big deal too. Noah received an olive branch from a dove, symbolizing God declaring peace and promising never to destroy the earth again (thanks, God!). Throughout the Bible, olive oil is used for important things like anointing kings and priests as a way to declare themselves as an “agent of God.” Jesus even thought olives were cool, he spent his final day on earth praying at the mount of olives garden in Gethsemane before he was crucified.
The more I read about these olive trees, the more I understood why David would want to compare himself to one. They are pretty awesome trees. They produce awesome fruit that can do almost anything. They have the ability to change an empire. They need stability. These trees are like humans! Ding ding, I think I’ve solved the puzzle. Why wouldn’t David, or anyone, want to be the human version of an olive tree? The house of God provides a stable and peaceful environment, perfect for growth. These trees live for a long time too, some have been known to live for over a thousand years. Turns out, olive trees are pretty cool. Just trusting in God’s stable, steadfast love, will provide an eternity of growth, fruit, and peace. That, my friends, is an amazing truth. Hard times will come, but when we are rooted in Christ, it’s impossible to be uprooted. I want to be an olive tree. I wanted to be planted, rooted in the house of God. I want to be a diva that requires a stable and peaceful environment, only finding it when I rest in the house of the Lord.
I want to stand in the crowd at the coffee house as David finishes his poem, snapping my fingers and whispering about how deep he is, understanding.
On a side note, I got the job that I applied and interviewed for! I will be a communication specialist. Sounds like a big deal but it probably isn’t. Either way, I’m excited. And I had to laugh out loud because about halfway through my research about olive trees, I realized that I am moving to Mount Olive, North Carolina. That HAS to be a good sign, right?
PS: here’s a phenomenal song about trees and whanot; I felt like it was relevant.