A meditation from Steve Fitch

16 The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. 17 There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the junipers. 18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

Psalms 104 is a celebratory song of how Creator God made and cared for His creation long ago. We know from multiple sources that during David’s rule (around 1000 BCE) the nation of Israel and the Fertile Crescent in general thrived with wild life. The region was still largely prolific with forest and teaming with massive herds of antelope (like the Serengeti) as evidence by King Herod’s obsession with hunting recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus who lived during the lifetime of Christ.

Today, virtually all that is celebrated in Psalms 104 is gone. I’ve flown over Lebanon and looked down at the mountains. The massive tracks of cedar forest were cut down centuries ago by the Romans to build fleets of ships. They also deforested the huge forest that grew along much of the coast of North Africa. Today people are shocked when they discover that massive areas of the Middle East and North Africa were heavily forested as little as 2000 years ago. They say, “I thought it has always been desert!” Bible readers should not be surprised by the desertification of the Middle East. Haven’t you read how Psalms 104 sings the song of celebration of God’s once abundant handiwork?

Today Psalms 104 is filled with empty words. Following the destruction of the forest and plains the birds, wild goats, hyrax, wild donkeys, Asiatic lions, and Middle Eastern ostrich all commonly referenced in the Psalms and the OT became classified as extinct or seriously endangered. And of course the springs and rivers have largely disappeared. Today we know the Middle East to be a desert. The people are destitute. Wars will be fought over what little water remains. The work of the Lord is defiled by deforestation.

Never has there been a more urgent time for those who read scripture to understand Paul’s appeal in Romans 8 19 For creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time

Today creation cries out for redemption. Perhaps the Holy Spirit can hover over the waters of humanity. Perhaps it is not too late. Perhaps there are some who will be revealed. Perhaps a day is coming when we will be able to read and sing Psalms 104 again. My prayer is on that day we will be able to marvel at the beauty of creation and the majesty of the creator from an experiential perspective once more.

Steve Fitch