Topic: Desert Solitaire (October 19, 2016)
Read: Psalm 136:1–9
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 56–58; 2 Thessalonians 2
And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:12
Desert Solitaire is Edward Abbey’s personal history of his summers as a park ranger in what is now called Arches National Park in Utah. The book is worth reading if only for Abbey’s bright language and vivid descriptions of the US Southwest.
But Abbey, for all his artistry, was an atheist who could see nothing beyond the surface of the beauty he enjoyed. How sad! He lived his entire life in praise of beauty and missed the point of it all.
Most ancient peoples had theories of origins enshrouded in legend, myth, and song. But Israel’s story of creation was unique: It told of a God who created beauty for our enjoyment and childlike delight. God thought up the cosmos, spoke it into being and pronounced it “beautiful.” (The Hebrew word for good also signifies beauty.) Then, having created a paradise, God in love spoke us into being, placed us in Eden, and told us, “Enjoy!”
Some see and enjoy the beauty of the Creator’s good gifts all around them, but don’t “worship him as God or even give him thanks.” They “think up foolish ideas of what God [is] like. As a result, their minds become dark and confused” (Rom. 1:21 nlt).
Others see beauty, say “Thank You, God,” and step into His light.
Prayer: Loving Father, we praise You because You are good. Thank You for infusing Your creation with beauty and purpose and for placing us here to enjoy it as we discover You. Your love endures forever!
All of creation reflects the beauty of God.
Insight: This psalm of worship praises the wonders of God’s creation and God’s providential intervention for His people. The repeating refrain is, “His love endures forever.” Key concepts in this psalm are God’s creation (see Isa. 40), the love of God (see Pss. 5–7), and the miracles of God (see Ex. 6–7). The list of items for which to thank God, our Creator, are vast and extensive: God is good (v. 1); He is over all other “gods” (v. 2); God is the Lord of lords (v. 3); He alone does great wonders (v. 4); God by His understanding made the heavens (v. 5); He placed the earth on the waters (v. 6); God made the great lights (v. 7); He made the sun to govern the day (v. 8); and God made the moon and stars to govern the night (v. 9).