The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.
– Psalm 65
I was reading this psalm the other day, which praises God for watered lands, abundant crops and hillsides dotted with flocks. It struck me how easy it is to view a psalm like this as a spectator, perhaps driving through farmland taking it all in from the comfort of my car. I remember driving from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem and seeing sheep scattered across hillsides. It was a perfect scene – and easy to give praise to God in that moment.
But what is really taking place in this psalm? In an agricultural society sheep on the hillsides and grain in the valley represented the mundane and difficult work of a farmer – early mornings tending the sheep, caring for sick animals, plowing fields, praying for enough rain to bring about a harvest. The observations of the psalm above represent a brief respite from constantly working the land to both give thanks to God and to ask God for blessings on your labor.
It struck me that while it may be easy to read this psalm as I would appreciate a photo of such a scene, the intent was to take a brief break from your labors from time to time and give thanks to God for these blessings. Would such a psalm today speak of full email inboxes and project deadlines? What about the ability to fill the cart at the grocery store and getting the oil changed in the car? Can we lift our heads from our work throughout the day and thank God for jobs, errands, and the comforts of modern life? In doing so, we may also remind ourselves of the spiritual value of the mundane, be it at work, at home, or at school. The mundane can take on great spiritual significance when we pause to allow God to water our efforts.
It may not be as romantic as a hillside scene dotted with sheep and a valley full of wheat, but I wonder if it strikes closer to the intent of such a psalm?