Welcome to Zeph@10am, with Jenny today.
I’m going to continue my delve into the life of David, via his Psalms, and today I’m looking at Psalm 52. However, I’m only really going to focus on one verse – verse 8 – “But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.”
Olive trees live a long time. They live hundreds, and sometimes thousands of years. The oldest in the world, still producing olives, is in Crete, and is dated at over 2000 years old, with estimates that it may be up to 4000 years old. Some of the olive trees alive today may well have been the same trees that Jesus and his disciples sat in the shade of, listening to Jesus teach and tell stories.
Being an olive tree in God’s house isn’t just for a short time…… or even a long time….. It’s forever. David gives us the picture of an incredibly long-lived tree to show how long we will get to be with God. It’s a reminder that God’s ‘unfailing love’ is also ‘unending love’.
Spend a few minutes just ‘being’ in God’s house – in God’s garden. Know that your roots go deep there.
Although they mainly grow in drier climates, olive trees do not actually tolerate drought. They need regular watering in order to thrive. In the mountains of Italy, where a friend of mine lives, many families have olive trees, but often they are quite a hike from their houses in the village, on small plots of land largely inaccessible by road. It makes caring for them on a constant basis difficult, so they make less frequent journeys to their trees, but they dig trenches around them, which then collect and focus the rain that does fall to exactly where the tree needs it.
Like olive trees, we need constant nourishment from God to thrive. Sometimes it feels like we’re in a drought, but God is the constant gardener, still making sure that we get exactly what we need, when we need it, where we need it – even if we don’t see it.
Thank God for the ‘nourishment’ and ‘watering’ that you’ve had from him over the last few days and weeks, and if it feels like there’s a bit of a drought, ask God to help you see a glimpse of his care.
Nothing of the olive crop is wasted. Just before the olives are ripe, fine nets are laid out underneath the trees, so any that fall will be caught in the nets. The branches that are pruned go into the nets so the olives on them may be recovered. Any olives that are still on the tree are shaken down, or knocked down with sticks. Every single olive is valuable and not to be left behind. The nets can then be gathered up, taking all the olives with them.
I’ll admit that at times, I don’t feel very fruitful. As Julie said last week, we sometimes look at other people, and we see how fruitful they are – how much they seem to do for God – how much they seem to reflect God in the world – and we can’t help but see them as being so much more fruitful than us. But we’re a different tree to them. Our fruit might be different to theirs. I can’t lead assemblies. Large groups of children terrify me. I can’t write music or tell stories. I can preach a passable sermon though. And I can make a set of accounts balance. My fruit is different – but that doesn’t mean its less valuable. And God collects it all up just the same, and uses it in his kingdom just the same.
Take a moment to thank God for the gifts that you do have, and thank him that he uses you, even if it’s in different ways to the people around you.
Olive trees have traditionally been passed down through the generations, because they have huge value. Consider what comes from olive trees:
– You have the wood. Its an unusually grained wood that can be carved into beautiful items.
– You have the olive itself. Personally I have never acquired the taste to enjoy them, but I know plenty of people who have.
– You have the oil that comes from the olive – perhaps its most significant benefit. Olive oil has been produced and traded for centuries. Even now, good olive oil commands a high price in our supermarkets. It was used in cooking and baking, but olive oil was also a source of light, in oil lamps and it was also used in the temple to consecrate people and things to God. David himself was anointed with olive oil by Samuel, to mark him as God’s chosen king.
We have huge value to God, because of who we are. We also have value because of what we do. No matter how we do it, our passage through the world brings God’s light into peoples lives. The things we do, in a sense, consecrates things and people to God. We are God’s inheritance; we have value.
Just reflect for a moment on that…… You are valuable to God.
Like lots of people lately, I’ve had time to tend to my garden. I’ve pruned. I’ve planted. I’ve weeded. I’ve fought an ongoing battle with ants. My garden is starting to show the fruits of my labours and look a bit more loved and slightly less neglected.
Sometimes I feel a bit like my neglected garden. I had a pretty rubbish day yesterday. I was tired after a bad night. Best laid plans went awry. In the end, I resorted to doing nothing on the sofa, giving the day up as a bad job. It was perhaps the best thing that I could have done. Sometimes, we just have to stop, and rest, and wait and let the gardener – in his huge and unfailing love for us – tend us. Let him prune, weed, feed and deal with the pests.
Go into the rest of your day knowing that your roots go deep into the soil of God’s house, and whatever drought or storm today may throw your way, remember that God is there to feed, tend and care for you. Have a good day!