Psalm 52: Green Olive Tree
An angry rant at terrorists while trusting and enjoying unfailing love
Read Psalm 52:
Open the translation of your choice...
Chabad.org (with Rashi commentary)
NIV at BlueLetterBible.org (with interlinear)
... and be welcome to the immersion materials below.
Mission Concepción, San Antonio, TX
Singing the Psalm
"Green Olive Tree" is part of the Our Roots Are In You Psalm collection.
Full album songbook with scores, charts and songleaders notes available.
Download the song at iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon.com or CDBaby for about $1.
Download the Green Olive Tree Accompaniment Pack:
pdf of congregational line
instrumental accompaniment track
jpg of congregational line
powerpoint & keynote slides
Green Olive Tree Accompaniment Pack
Green olive tree,
you are thriving on the temple grounds
Green olive tree,
trusting, trusting in the tended life
Psalm 52 Immersion
sanctuary space. In the Near and Middle East, the olive tree symbolizes peace, prosperity and long life.
Psalm 52 is a moody little psalm. The first part is an angry rant of name calling and curses for all who cause suffering. But hold on. The second part is all about gratitude for God's good and grounding love.
Psalm 52 is unique among the 150 Psalms as its voice is directed not toward God nor Israel, but toward a violent character named Doeg who helped Saul attack David. According to the story, Doeg's actions led priests to be executed in a place called Nob. No wonder the psalm calls him trecherous and evil-loving. Read the whole story in I Samuel 21-22.
The central image in Psalm 52 is a healthy olive tree placed carefully within the gates of some kind of
Pic by Catalina Gonzalez Carrasco
Psalm 52 might bring up for you
wishing things were different
contentment with how things are.
All these emotions are very human.
In the world of the Psalms, these are
faith-ful moments where we may
encounter the Holy.
Pic by Rodrigo Camargo
Pic by Vassiliki Koutsothamasi
Anger can be a difficult emotion. Psalm 52 invites us to consider how frustration and even rage can fuel faithful prayer.
3. Say what you want. From where you sit, what needs to happen next? If you wish, phrase it in the form of a request of God. Or just rant about it: what do you desire for the situation to come to resolution? If you don't know, that's fine, too.
4. Voice your hope. If there is any sense of a tiny light at the end of the tunnel or even a sliver of goodness you've seen, mention it now. Try.
5. End by reflecting on this goodness if it feels honest. Most of the most devestating laments in the Psalms have this classic turn at the end towards trust and hope, but a couple of them do not. Either way, your psalm prayer stacks up against the best of the ancient prayers of Israel.
If you're ready to spit nails about something, maybe a psalm is ready to emerge. A lament psalm form frames anger as a faithful moment in the company of our Psalmist brothers and sisters.
Grab pen and paper or get to a keyboard.
Here's what to do:
1. Address God somehow. Use whatever name you like-- something from the Bible or from a spiritual tradition, or maybe a name you make up. If God is part of the problem, that's fine. You're in good company with faithful saints who have been in your shoes.
2. Name what you are hurt or angry about. Be totally honest. Go on about it and name names. Use mean words or swear if you want to. Lose all composure and be judgmental. Name what happened and describe exactly what's really going on inside you.
Other UberAngry psalms:
(in order of ticked-offness)
Pic by Christine Valters Paintner
Spiritual Practice: Reflections on Olive Tree Life
~ Wonderings for a group or alone ~
No matter where it's planted, a tree lives through seasons that cycle. Describe the season you are in right now: Does it feel like an earth season of Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter? How so?
If you are this tree, what sun, rain, fertilizer or pruning do you require right now?
If you are this tree, what natural blessings are you for your family, friends and community?
It's in the nature of a seed to break open and grow. Roots dive down for anchoring, a stem pushes up to the air and sunshine. The growing tree may produce blossoms or fruit of some kind. In the end, it returns to the earth having been part of the larger holy circle of life. What is the next natural step of your life? What hopes and fears are part of this coming season?
The tree in the psalm is planted, protected and tended in a holy space, presumably within the walls of an abbey or monastery. What kind of solitude is thriving in your life right now, and what kind of community? Is there anything that would you like to change about either?
Is there anyone you'd like to share these things with?
But I, for my part,
am like a strong olive-tree
in the house of God.
I have put my trust
in God's faithful love for me
which will know no end.
for all you have done for me
I will render thanks.
I will glorify
Your name among your servants
and all who love you.
From Psalm 52,
Meditative Songs of Prayer: The Psalms in Haiku
by Father Richard Gwyn.
Berkeley: Seastone Books, 1998.
Pic by Bev Lloyd-Roberts LRPS