Psalm 52:8

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 8. But I, hunted and persecuted though I am, am like a green olive tree. I am not plucked up or destroyed, but am like a flourishing olive, which out of the rock draws oil, and amid the drought still lives and grows. In the house of God. He was one of the divine family, and could not be expelled from it; his place was near his God, and there was he safe and happy, despite all the machinations of his foes. He was bearing fruit, and would continue to do so when all his proud enemies were withered like branches lopped from the tree. I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. Eternal mercy is my present confidence. David knew God's mercy to be eternal and perpetual, and in that he trusted. What a rock to build on! What a fortress to fly to!

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 7-8. See Psalms on "Psalms 52:7" for further information.

Verse 8. (first clause):


"But I am olive charged with fruit

In fertile soil that grows."

This appears to express of the Hebrew words, which our translators render, like a green olive tree, but which in reality have no reference to the colour, but to the flourishing, vigorous, and thriving state of the plant; just as Homer gives it the epithet of "luxuriant," and "flourishing;" and Ovid that of "ever flourishing." The fact is, the colour of the leaves of this tree is not a bright lively green; but a dark, disagreeable, or yellowish one. Scheuchzer describes the leaves, as "superne coloris atrovirentis, vel in viridi flavescentis." An English traveller, writing from Italy, thus expresses his disappointment about the olive tree: -- "The fields, and indeed the whole face of Tuscany, are in a manner covered with olive trees; but the olive tree does not answer the character I have conceived of it. The royal psalmist and some of the sacred writers, speak with rapture of the `green olive tree,' so that I expected a beautiful green; and I confess to you, I was wretchedly disappointed to find its hue resembling that of our hedges when they are covered with dust." I have heard other travellers express the same feeling of disappointment. "The true way of solving the difficulty," as Harmer properly remarks, "is to consider the word translated `green,' not as descriptive of colour, but of some other property; youthfulness, vigour, prosperity, or the like." Richard Mant.

Verse 8. Green olive tree in the house of God. Several expositors fancifully imagine that olive trees grow in certain of the courts of the Tabernacle; but the notion must not be endured, it would have been too near an approach to the groves of the heathen to have been tolerated, at least in David's time. The text should surely be read with some discretion; the poet does not refer to olive trees in God's house, but compares himself in the house of God to an olive tree. This reminds us of the passage, "Thy children like olive plants around thy table," where some whose imaginations have been more lively than their judgments, have seen a table surrounded, not with children, but with olive plants. Whoever, in the realms of common sense, ever heard of olive plants round a table? If, as Thrupp supposes, Nob was situated upon the Mount of Olives, we can, without any conjecture, see a reason for the present reference to a flourishing olive tree. C. H. S.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 7-8. The worldling like an uprooted tree, the believer a vigorous well planted olive.

Verse 8. The believer's character, position, confidence, and continuance.