A Luxuriant Olive Tree
“Yet I am like a luxuriant olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the chesed of God, eternally and forever.”
(Psalm 52:10 [verse 8 in English])
The choice of an olive tree is more significant than just that olives were a staple fruit of David’s day and in the region of Israel. While mature olive trees are fairly sturdy plants, when olive trees begin their growth they are rather weak saplings which typically need to begin their growth alongside of a sturdy fence or support. They need to be protected if they are going to grow in a healthy way. So it is with the believer. We need to grow healthy and strong within the stronghold of our mighty God and in his Word. All too often Christians believe that they can live in the world and grow strong on their own and with their own ideas. And then they wonder why it is that they have such a distorted view of the providence of God and of his grace. Loved ones, to grow healthy as believers, we must grow within the bounds and the confines of the walls of God’s word…it is our very life and breath.
The word “luxuriant” is a word that we don’t use much today, but it is yet a wonderful word; even the sound of it carries with it the feel of grace and fullness and health. A “luxuriant” olive tree is one that bears an abundance of large, ripe, olives; a luxuriant Christian is one whose life bears the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in abundance. It is strong and healthy and those who interact with the “luxuriant Christian” are attracted to Christ because of the life lived in the Spirit. How different this world would look if all confessing Christians would live lives so marked by God’s fruit — growing in God’s courts.
There is one characteristic of a “luxuriant” life that must be noted here as well, and that is the trusting in the chesed of God. This Hebrew term is rendered in quite a few ways, depending on the English translation, but it conveys the idea of God’s covenantal faithfulness to us as his people despite our covenantal unfaithfulness in return. When we get a handle on God’s chesed, it will drive us to our knees in thanksgiving and humble prayer. The saint, David reminds us, trusts in this chesed of God and even when the believer does not see God’s hand at work around him, he trusts that God is yet being faithful and will yet continue to be so. Such is the mark that leads one to luxuriant living in Christ Jesus.