How to Flourish Like David: 5 Keys to Spiritual Growth
David wrote about half of the Psalms. He was a gifted writer and musician, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he wrote a plethora of hymns that have resonated with the hearts of God’s people for centuries.
Psalm 52 is no exception. It ends with these words:
“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
- I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.
- I will praise you forever for what you have done;
- In your name I will hope, for your name is good.
- I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”
- Psalm 52:8-9 (NIV 1978)
David experienced much pain and suffering in his life. In his early years, before he became Israel’s king, he was the victim of undeserved abuse at the hand of King Saul. And after taking the throne, he brought much turmoil on himself as a result of his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah.
Yet through it all, he maintained a life of devotion to God. He is described twice as a man “after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). And here in Psalm 52 we see David reflecting on his life and saying, “I am like a green olive tree” (ESV). Like any tree, a healthy olive tree should have green leaves and bear fruit. This is what a tree is made to do. This is what it means for it to flourish and thrive.
After comparing himself to a mature, fruit-bearing olive tree, David then proclaims what that kind of life looks like. He takes a personal inventory and sees the evidence of God’s power at work in his attitudes and actions. And while David praises God for His provision, we get a firsthand account of five spiritual keys which enabled him to pursue and maintain a godly life no matter what.
Key #1: Acceptance of God’s forgiveness.
“I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God.” Note that David says he is like a fruitful tree in the house of God. The temple wasn’t built yet, so this could be a reference to the tabernacle, the place where repentant sinners came to acknowledge their sins and offer an animal sacrifice to symbolize the provision of God’s grace through the forgiveness of sins. A godly life starts here, with the recognition of our rebellion against God and our need for His mercy. When we repent, God is more than willing to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). To live a God-pleasing life, David knew that he needed God’s forgiveness, as evidenced by his writing of Psalms 32 and 51.
Key #2: Faith in God’s love.
“I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.” David was a firm believer in the never failing, steadfast love of God. He had a confident conviction in God’s unwavering commitment to His people. This faith was based on a profound understanding that God knows what is best for us. He can be trusted because He is trustworthy. We can rely on Him to take care of us through thick and thin, good times and bad. Just like us, David had plenty of both.
Key #3: Praise for God’s work.
“I will praise you forever for what you have done.” At any point in time, David could look back on his life and see what God had done for him. David recognized God as the ultimate source of all he had experienced in life, and he continued to worship God regardless of his circumstances. The beginning of verse 9 can also be translated, “I will thank you forever, because you have done it.” David was a thankful man, filled with gratitude for the grace and mercy of God to him, an undeserving sinner.
Key #4: Hope in God’s goodness.
“In your name I will hope, for your name is good.” David was a man of hope. Because of the goodness of God, he had a positive outlook on the future. In Scripture, the word “hope” is not the wishful thinking that says, “I hope I win the lottery.” Instead, it is the strong expectation and certain assurance that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
Key #5: Fellowship with God’s people.
“I will praise you in the presence of your saints.” David did not trust God in isolation from others. His faith and hope were bolstered by a close relationship with other believers. He lived for God with the people of God. This is one of the indispensable marks of genuine faith — identification with and involvement in the church of Christ. The genuine Christian life is not a solo flight. It is lived out in the context of the local church — the family of God, the household of faith.
As you reflect on these key characteristics of David’s life, I urge you to take an inventory of your own life. How are you doing in each of these areas?
Do you regularly and genuinely confess and forsake your sins, going to God directly to express heartfelt sorrow over your faults, as well as the need for God’s power to overcome them? Then, while looking to the death of Jesus as the sole basis for God’s forgiveness, you experience the sweet joy of reconciliation with your Savior.
Do you believe in the sovereign, never-changing love of God? To increase that faith, it is essential that you spend much time in the Word, knowing that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Do you offer praise and thanks to God for His work on your behalf? A true Christian is increasingly enthralled by God’s work of salvation on our behalf through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We never tire of hearing the good news of the gospel of Christ. It is sweeter than honey and more precious than gold!
Do you find hope in the goodness of God? You do not have to travel far or spend much money to experience God’s kindness. Simply open the Bible and you’ll find evidence of His grace on every page. Then take a look at your own life and you’ll see the same God extending that same grace to you.
Are you actively involved in a local church? Do you enjoy spending time with God’s people, worshipping King Jesus together, serving Him together, and becoming increasingly like Him together? If not, something is amiss and you are outside the will of God.
By the grace of God and the strength provided by the Spirit of God, every believer can flourish by living in the presence of God. May this be my experience, and yours as well.