Live Like an Olive TreeFebruary 28, 2021 - 12:00 am
“But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever” — Psalm 52:8
In honour of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his lifework helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.
In Psalm 52, David addressed a cruel man. David wrote this psalm when Doeg, one of King Saul’s officers, informed the king that the city of Nob, under the leadership of Ahimelek, had given David refuge. David was a wanted man by Saul, and so Saul had the entire city wiped out. Doeg and his men slaughtered an entire city of innocent men, women, and children. In the psalm, David wondered how Doeg could be so proud of his actions, calling Doeg a man who loved evil.
David concluded the psalm by saying, “But I am like an olive tree.” An olive tree is firmly rooted in its place. It quietly provides shade and its fruit gives forth nourishment; as oil, it gives off warmth and light. No matter how evil the people around David became, he vowed to remain firmly rooted in the Lord. No matter what else was happening around him, David would continue to extend a hand of peace and to behave toward others with kindness.
Friends, David’s response to senseless cruelty must be ours as well. Like the man on the train, we must be beacons of light in a dark world. Today, let’s each do one extra act of kindness. No matter what anyone else may do today, we must continue to be like an olive tree — ceaselessly providing shelter, nourishment, warmth, and light, wherever we may go.
Your turn: Discover the lessons of courage found in the biblical story of Esther, which is celebrated this month on the Jewish observance of Purim. Download a complimentary copy of the chapter on Purim from my new book, Generation to Generation: Passing on a Legacy of Faith to Our Children.