earth day psalm

Humpback-whales-tahiti-xl A train wreck disrupts the rhythm of Creation at the end of Psalm 104.  As you read the psalm, you take in a picture of the amazing movement and controlled power of the earth and sky and oceans.  The psalmist is caught up in wonder as he thinks through the various aspects of what God has made.  And the writer realizes that God rejoices over everything he has made.  The waters stretched out like a garment and bursting through the ravines, the mountains erupting, the seas teeming with life, the whales playing games, the lions depending on God, the birds nestled in the trees along the streams, the night active with life, the day provided for people to gather food.  His reflections cause the psalmist to proclaim that God must be really pleased with all of this!

And then the train wreck.  It's as if the gentle song of creation suddenly hits a dissonant crash.  After a whole chapter of awe-inspiring thoughts about what God has made, look at the shift towards disgust and bewilderment that happens in from verse 34 to verse 35:

    (34) May the Lord be pleased by all these thoughts (I have) about him, for I rejoice in the Lord.

    (35) Let all the sinners vanish from the face of the earth; let the wicked disappear forever.

Next, Psalm 104 ends abruptly, emphatically, with "As for me– I will praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord!"

I think what happened between these verses is dramatic.  The psalmist was overcome in wonder as he considered God's work.  God over all of this!  But then the vision of the work of humanity entered into his mind… and he was shocked.  Disgusted.  All of creation is good… but humanity is defiling it!  The writer's mind is suddenly flooded and sickened by the thought.  The murders, the wars, the rape, the adultery, the profanity, the abuse, the pillaging, the destruction, the lying, the betrayal, the envy, the arrogance, the disruption– all of this insurrection of humankind stands in stark contrast to the beautiful dance of the planet.

The point of the psalm is to reflect upon what God has made… and to be reconciled to that rhythm… by being reconciled to God.  And that is the ultimate point.  It is not about being in obedience to the earth as if the earth is our mother or our master.  It is all about waltzing with God on the dance floor that he has made.  As for me– I will praise the Lord.  I will not be a part of the Fall of Creation… but will choose to live in obedience to God's heart, in step with his will- on this earth in this time- because it is so very good.

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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