Now we know that the better part involves hearing the words of the Lord. Even before Amos identified that component of the better part, David relied on its reality and revealed another key component: being rooted in God. Perhaps David composed this psalm as he “inquired of the Lord” multiple times about his course of action as King Saul, green with envy, pursued him. (See 1 Samuel 20–23.)
The green to which David refers in this psalm is far brighter than the shade of envy and belongs to a more hopeful plant than the “summer fruits” of Amos, which will signify the “end” for many of David’s descendants. David flees for his life through the wilderness. “But,” he declares, “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.” Even as he stays on the move, he remains rooted in God’s love. If a tree planted in a house seems odd, it helps to remember that the tabernacle had a dirt floor.
I am currently studying a unique feature of the grammar of Christian belief that understands belief as movement “into” God. Much as we may imagine an olive tree needing to be uprooted and replanted in order to be “in the house of God,” David and any of us seeking the better part must be willing to be uprooted from wherever we have placed our trust and sink our roots deep into soil that accesses the living waters of God’s steadfast love. Where I live in drought-stricken Texas, trees’ roots are visible through brown lawns; they break underground pipes in search of water. David vows to put down roots among God’s people in worship, where he will stretch his limbs to point to God’s name.
Steadily flow your streams of mercy, O God. Help us root in your rich soil and believe into you. Amen.
Whitney Simpson offers a wide-open doorway into embodied practice and awakens us to the long-held wisdom of our tradition that our bodies are sacred places where God meets us and dwells. Fully Human, Fully Divine is a true Christmas gift!”
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