Wednesday, January 11
The Appalachians are amazing. I grew up in the foothills of the Smokies and the Blue Ridge. On a clear day at the top of the hill you could see gracefully rolling mountains in the distance. If you live near the Rockies or even parts of Alaska, mountains in your imagination peak and may be white tipped year-round. However, in the imagination of a southern boy of the Carolinas, mountains are tree-covered rolling and majestic mountains. These are old and they feel even grander because of their age. I remember a time when I went hiking with some friends in the eastern mountains of North Carolina. We got to the top of the hike, and we could see the road cutting through the valley. The cars were smaller than toys; buildings, houses or stores were miniatures too small for a child and people were indistinguishable. However, the path they cut through the valley was noticeable. This was humanity’s doing.
The mountains, however, were the work of God. For miles, the green mountains, the golden-red sunset, the crisp, clean air, were the blessings and handiwork of a loving and caring God. And the mountains let you know it. The mountains “shout together for joy.” (98:8) The Psalmist knows well that creation praises it’s creator. When the author says “sing to the LORD, all the earth”(96:1) I have tended to read that one small phrase as a command to all the people. But just as importantly, he is telling ALL of creation to sing praises to God. The trees and the forest (96:12) resound with the praises of God, when they are displaying majesty in fall or even in the depth of winter when they are barren. The sunset over the mountain, or the sunrise over the ocean displaying the play of colors that God desires we all see in creation. (Or, on the more western states, the sunset over the coast.) Sometimes the glory God displays in the created world is not beautiful but terrifying. Darkness, like the inky blackness of night; fire burning up his foes; lightning striking the ground with thunder exploding and roaring all around, all these show the greatness of God.
In other places, it seems that creation because of it’s nature and the fact that it is nature, cannot help but show the glory of the God who created it. Jesus says that if those who were praising him (to the glory of the Father) were kept silent, that “the stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:40) But your worship isn’t. You must choose who you will worship. The author of these psalms we read show that God alone is worthy of worship and the created world, worshipped by other people in their world, worships YHWH. May we shout with joy along with the forest, the trees, the mountains, the rivers, the heavens, the depths, and all the earth. “Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous ones, and praise His holy name.” (97:12)
– Jake Ballard
(Photo credit: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Psalms-96-1_Inspirational_Image/)