The words of the prayer in Psalm 36:5-6 convict me as they should any who realize their weaknesses and their inadequacy as they seek to please our Creator. The prayer envisions God as judge, but also as redeemer and savior. I think many struggle to reconcile those images as being consistent within one being. The extent of God’s love surprises; we marvel at recipients of his care – a nomadic family worshipping idols beyond the Euphrates (Abraham), a forgiven murderer (Moses), an impoverished young widow gathering the “leftovers” from farmers’ fields (Ruth); an abused concubine stranded in the desert with her young son (Hagar), and many others. Then we reflect, and we remember that we too have fallen short. We too have failed to honor our God. We wonder how he could love us.
Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD” (Psalm 36:5-6 ESV).
The prayer illustrates human limitation in describing the capabilities of God. The psalmist appealed to the depths of the seas, the heights of the mountains, and the vastness of the skies. Today, after NASA probes have ventured beyond our own solar system and telescopes that are themselves satellites have peered much, much farther into the depths of the universe, after we have gained a sense of just how deep the oceans are, but still are constrained by the immense pressures at those depths, we may tremble even more as we contemplate the power of a God who creates such a universe. Remarkably, even as the psalmist praises God’s power, he notes his love, his faithfulness, and his righteousness. The prayer describes God as judge, but also as Savior of “man and beast.” We often overlook biblical references to God’s concern for others of his creatures. This portion of a prayer concisely captures God’s concern for all of his creation.
Immortal Creator of all we behold and more, we worship you in awe. The more we learn about the universe in which we live, the more we struggle to comprehend the scope of your creativity and power. The more we gain in technological prowess, we recognize still more that we do not know, and even fear unintended consequences from our own inventions. We pray that you will guide us as we learn, that you will divert us from paths that will damage, and steer us towards goals that that will restore and cure. We pray for the salvation of this world you created, for the health of your creatures that inhabit hit. May we turn from harm and instead walk in paths that heal. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.