Unwavering Conformity: A 21 Day Study in Stewardship, Day 5

Land of Delight

Praise the LORD, my soul.
LORD my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.
He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth.
He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
The trees of the LORD are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.
He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.
The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
Then people go out to their work,
to their labor until evening.
How many are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works —
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the LORD.
But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.
Praise the LORD, my soul.
Praise the LORD.

Psalm 104:1-35 NIV

Psalm 104 is a song of praise to the Creator God. It paints a picture of a land of delight, a land created by a God who is ‘clothed with splendor and majesty’ (v.1). It is a land as Eden must have been: the waters are plentiful, the food grows in abundance for the animals, and humans cultivate the earth. The days come and go, the seasons turn and God breathes in and out, giving breath to all he has created and also taking it away. He sends his Spirit and new life is created; the earth is renewed. Everything is as it should be. Everything is in balance just as it will be again when all things have been renewed: God, humans, animals, plants, earth – all living in harmony. Peter DeVos and the other authors of Earthkeeping in the Nineties address the nature of that harmony:

“Relationships, among the living things and between them and the non-living environment, are highly complex. Relationships and interactions are essential to the perpetuation of the health and beauty of the ecosystems!”

As we understood more of the balanced intricacy of the biosphere, fewer and fewer people are willing to consider it all a meaningless accident; in the past decade it has become increasingly common for people to speak of the earth in terms of some mysterious purpose! Once again, in stumbling ways, creation is turning us toward the Creator. For this balance in the ecosystem is, to the Christian, an indication of a Creator who does all things well. The life-sustaining beauty of the created earth declares the glory of God, as God declares its goodness. Thus the more we understand of the intricacy of a healthy ecosystem, the more we learn of the Creator. Nevertheless, the intricacy occurs within [healthy] ecosystems, the balance is maintained by death. And death – of a plant, an animal, or another person – reminds us that we too are creatures. We are part of the biosphere!

It is true that we have a personal relationship with God, we are ‘made in his image’ (see Genesis 1:27) and thus we stand apart in some ways from the rest of creation. But it is also clear that God has created us as he has all other creatures. We, too, are organisms, living within a rich but limited world. We share with all creatures fundamental biological needs: the need for energy and minerals, for food, air, and water! The life of the earth is our life, and we depend upon it. Thus the Christian respect for creation has a twofold source: believers delight in it as God’s work and respect it as they respect their own bodies – for in a sense the biosphere is our extended body.

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