Do me a favor and please read Psalm 104.
This psalm is considered a “companion” psalm to Psalm 103. As both begin with the same words (“Praise the Lord, my soul”) they both invoke a praise for who God is. But where Psalm 103 is about the God of the covenant and his love of his people – this one is about creation and the splendor it is. We are encouraged to “praise the Lord” because of all the mighty wonders and works God has done with this world! From his glorious splendor to its perfect functionality for living creatures.
As we read this psalm we should be instantly pulled back to the very beginning of not only scripture (Gen 1:3-31) but to the very beginnings of time itself when God spoke things into existence. And as I look at the Creation account and this psalm specifically I’m drawn to the intentionality of creation. Creation doesn’t simply just exist as a place for you and I to stand. Instead, it is an intricate balance with all things having a meaning and function. “God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so.” (Gen 1:9). In verse 5 of our psalm we read, “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” And this is only one part of Genesis matching with Psalm 104. In our psalm we also read that God makes grass grow for cattle and plants for people to cultivate. The Lord gives birds trees and nests and the wild goats have mountains while the crags are there for refuge for the hyrax.
All that we see the Lord created – and He created it for a reason (except the mosquito – those have to be pointless. I’m sure birds and frogs could find something else to eat)
When was the last time you looked at the tree outside your window? I mean really looked at it and reflected upon all that it does and gives? From its function to its potential – it’s limitless! Trees help make oxygen, prevent erosion, give shade, offer up homes to various animals, and provide shelter. And that’s just for trees that are living. If we were to cut it down we could build homes, make paper, create mulch, provide fire, build things for your home (coffee tables, etc), and you can also slow burn it to provide wonderful flavor to foods. You can carve glorious works of art and whittle beautiful sounding instruments. You can use it to help frame photos and memories as well as use it to CREATE memories as you climb it or use its limbs to have sword fights. The potential joy of the tree is limitless! And that’s just a tree! Now imagine all the other things in creation that God made and all the wonderful things and memories you make with them too. From mountains to valleys to streams to giant rocks. As well as animals that fly, swim, or gallop!
Now think about if you didn’t have that? What if there were no trees to climb? What if we drilled into all the mountains and took out all their precious metals and laid waste to what God created? What if we took away the homes of the mountain goat, hyrax, birds, and poisoned the streams of the fish to the point where they couldn’t survive? What if we looked at the marvelous and “many works” of God (vs 24) and then saw the “many works of man” that was doing more harm than good? What if we looked at this world and realized that while God created a perfect balance to where animals were given food from creation…that there was no more “perfect balance” because we, the very ones entrusted to care for creation, cared more about us than creation and failed to worship God when seeing his created world?
I’m not going to get into a debate about global warming and disasters happening in creation (but for the record, I do agree with scientists that we have global warming and it’s our fault) but I am going to draw you and I to the simple fact that God gave us a command to “take care of” his creation (Gen 2:15). He commanded, after his perfect Garden was created, to take care of it and then he asked Adam to name the animals…which also means to take care of them as well. God called Adam, you and I, to be stewards of his beautiful creation.
We all need to realize that not only were we asked to take care of the very things of this earth, but we worship God and praise him when we do those very things. We cannot just look at us or the things we want in life and be happy providing for me. This whole world is about more than me and it’s about more than you. The care God took in creating humans didn’t stop there and less we forget that we were NOT created first. Yes we need to realize that we are worth more and vastly more valuable than the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26) but that doesn’t mean we neglect, cut down, and destroy God’s created beauty. We are worth more because he asks us to be caretakers of his Creation. We are worth more because we can do more, help more, love more, serve more, and make sure that the birds have nests, trees, and food. And we are worth more because we are created in God’s very own image. And let us not forget that if we take all the “me” from the use of a tree (homes, fire, etc) then the ripple effect becomes disastrous.
I appreciate what the psalmist encourages himself to do in his praise to God for his beauty of creation. I appreciate it because it is easy to look at the created things of this world and take them for granted and miss their beauty, splendor, and TRUE function. It’s easy to look at the grandeur of the mountains or the glorious depths of the Grand Canyon – but it’s hard to do the same thing to a dandelion. And yet God made them all and for a purpose. I don’t think God is saying not to cut down trees or use the streams to better humanity – but I DO think we need to work harder and be better stewards of creation. We need to plant more trees, drill less, and be more creative with functioning in this world without harming this world.
I think we need to take a step back and use our stewardship earthly caretaking works to praise God a little more and find more beauty in what we’ve been given and a little less personal function.