Good morning! Hebrew writers and priests borrowed many things from other cultures, and perhaps the most worldwide religious phenomenon is discovering divinity in the natural world. Some parts of the Bible decry looking for God in nature (see the destruction of trees which were Asherah poles), but the psalms are shot through with references to God in creation. Our passage for today (Psalms 62-68) particularly exemplifies this universal wisdom.
In many psalms, elements of the natural world creep in as metaphors for God and faith. In psalm 62, for instance, a rock is the readiest example of God’s steadfastness. Psalm 63 invokes a dusty, parched land thirsty for water in order to describe the spiritual state of yearning for faith in God. God’s power over the earth is testified by the dry land at the bottom of the Red Sea in psalm 66, which also uses a “spacious place” as a visual description of God’s blessing. Smoke and wax are similes for the writer of psalm 68, who uses them to invoke the temporariness of all those who oppose God. Earthquake, thunder and mountain peaks all proclaim the presence of God, “whose power is in the skies” (68:34).
Psalm 65 is where the custom of praising God in nature fully blossoms (so to speak). Here we see the majesty of creation—mountains, seas, and vistas. God sounds like a farmer who waters, manures, and cultivates the earth. Overflowing pastures, teeming meadows and verdant fields all testify to the abundance of God in the harvest and in creation. “The earth has yielded its increase” (67:6) as a sign of divine blessing and favor.
It’s important to remember that nature is not God directly. This is not “pantheism”, but “panentheism”, where God is in yet not identical to the natural world. Creation is a vehicle through which God is understood and accessible. This tradition is a broad current in the stream of Judeo-Christian thought, and it extends the promise that no place exists in the world where God is not present and manifest, at least through the eyes of faith. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Psalms 69-72. Thanks for reading!