‘Like A Green Olive Tree’: A Response to Psalm 52

After the astringency, the release and restoration of Psalm 51 the Psalter returns us to the image with which the whole collection opens: a green and flourishing tree deeply rooted in the goodness of God himself, and this time it is specifically an Olive Tree, the sign of peace and healing, of God’s deepest Shalom. We arrive at this image of the tree at the end of psalm 52 by way of contrast with the vain boasting of the tyrant, whom, in the end, God will ‘laugh to scorn’. My poem also mentions the tyrant in passing (for he is passing!) but begins and ends with the beautiful tree.

As usual you can hear me read the poem by pressing the ‘play’ button if it appears, or else by clicking on the title. For the other poems in my psalm series type the word ‘psalm’ into the search box on the right.

LII Quid gloriaris?

Of all your loving God has done for you,
Of all his many mercies on your soul,
Surely the greatest was his planting you

Like a green olive tree, secure and whole,
To grow within his holy house forever.
Be rooted once again in the rich soil

Of his deep love, and know that none can sever,
No power on earth can ever separate
You from the steadfast love of Christ your saviour.

So let the tyrants boast. Their desperate
Endeavours to maintain their Godless power
Will come to nothing soon, evaporate

Like morning mist before the sun. The hour
Is coming and has come. Their time is up,
But you will flourish in God’s house forever.

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Filed under imagination

5 responses to “‘Like A Green Olive Tree’: A Response to Psalm 52

  1. David C Brown

    Fine; I like in the psalms where the psalmist says, “As for me …”
    The olive tree reminds of “And the olive-tree said to them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to wave over the trees?”.

  2. lynndmorrissey

    This is lovely, and reminds me a lot of Ps 92: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,” I pray to live a green life.

  3. Coreen Froese

    Thank you, I needed to hear and be reassured by this tonight. It is not the first time this has happened while reading these sonnets.

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