Psalm 52 (Psalms on the Trail)


But I am like a green olive tree
    in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
    forever and ever.
           Psalm 52:8

Psalm 52:8


The photo above is not mine—I pulled it off the internet, and it is indeed an olive tree. The smaller photo is mine, and I don’t know what kind of tree it is—definitely not an olive. Perhaps it is an old apple tree; the Shenandoah, after all, is apple country and this tree with such an exposed but exhilarating outlook on the world lives in what seems to be an old pasture on top of the ridge.  Was it planted by a farming family or did it grow up on its own?  Whichever and whatever it is, it is in what is now one of the most beautiful spots on the Virginia stretch of the AT.

But for the sake of this reflection, call them both olive trees.  Are they “green” because they are alive?  Because they have green leaves? Or because they might bear green olives? And where is the house of God?  Is it on the lake shore or the mountain ridge?  Is it near the temple in Jerusalem or the congregation where you worship?  Is it in the gathering of people or in the psalmist’s heart?  And exactly what is it that is forever and forever?  Is it the psalmist’s trust that continues forever or is it God’s steadfast love?  Sometimes it is fun to play with questions because, if I feel like being a detective, they might lead somewhere. In searching for answers, I learned olive trees not only live for centuries, they have been known to live for several thousand years.  Maybe because they can live so long, an olive tree is a better description than a shorter lived apple tree.  As an ancient, enduring olive tree, the psalmist is never planning to stop trusting God or to be separated from God’s forever love.  That reminds me of the apostle Paul who wrote:  “For I am convinced (or trust) that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)  That’s a lot of steadfast love and there are a lot of olive trees like you and I who are counting on God’s steadfast love to continue for a long time.  

1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?  What image comes to your mind as you think of something that endures?

2. Or read all of Psalm 52 to discover how this verse fits into the psalm or to discover a different verse.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that illustrates this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s verse is from Psalm 53:4

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.


  1. Interesting site on ancient olive trees (one of many).