Monday, April 11, 2005

Abiding Even in the Face of Evil

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
I will praise You forever,
Because You have done it;
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name, for it is good.
(Psalm 52:8-9)
The inscription of this psalm reads, “A contemplation of David when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, and said to him, ‘David has gone to the house of Ahimelech.’”

You can read about the treachery of Doeg in 1 Samuel 22. Doeg was an exceedingly ruthless man, and King Saul had fallen so low in his bitterness toward David that he made Doeg his right hand man. When Saul’s own royal guards would not slay Ahimelech and the house of priests, Doeg gladly performed the task, killing 85 who wore the linen ephod. Not only that, he also turned against Nob, the city of the priests, where he slew men, women, children, and nursing infants, as well as oxen, donkeys and sheep.

In the midst of this evil and treachery, David puts his trust in the Lord:

“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.” A green olive tree is a symbol of prosperity and stability, reminiscent of the tree planted by rivers of living water in Psalm 1. Olive trees are also long lived, with many years of fruitfulness.

“I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.” David continually looks to God for refuge. He trusts in the hesed, the steadfast love and faithfulness of God, for he is in covenant with Yahweh. That is his plan from now on, emphatically — forever and ever!

“I will praise You forever because You have done it.” He lifts his hands to Yahweh in thanks and praise, because the LORD has the situation well in hand and will render the judgment. His heart is set.

“And in the presence of Your saints, I will wait on Your name, for it is good.” David has a patient expectation in the Lord. This is not something hidden away and done in secret, David has gone public with it. He has declared himself, his trust, his gratitude, his praise before all the people of the LORD who are in his company.

No wonder then, that he opens this psalm with, “Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually.” He has already seen the end of this matter from the beginning, and that is where he makes his stand.

Yes, there is evil round about, but it is the goodness of God that will endure. So take your stand with David: 1. Trust in the covenant love and mercy of God forever. 2. Keep on giving your thanks and praise to the Lord. 3. Wait on the Lord in patient expectation, for He always will uphold His name’s sake.