“In his hands are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his also”

Sometimes we praise God by appreciating who he is. We might sing “Immortal, invisible, God only wise”.  Sometimes we praise God by singing out what the LORD has done for us or for all the world. Sometimes we bring God’s greatness to mind by recalling the wonder and scope of creation.

At first reading, this is where we are in verses 4 and 5.  We have praised God’s greatness and now we go on to see that greatness laid out in creation. If the depths of the earth are in his hands, how great must God be?

Take a moment to appreciate God’s greatness in creation.  Imagine the deepest valleys and the highest mountain ranges and remember that nothing and nowhere is outside of God’s creation.  But don’t stop there.

For this verse of the psalm and the next are not just about creation.  The picture of depths and mountain tops are also symbols of the highs and lows in our lives.  There is more than just geography here.

The psalms frequently use this kind of symbolism. Zion (or Jerusalem) is called a mountain.  Jerusalem is indeed built on a series of hills but not very big ones.  The point is that it is spiritually a high and important place where God dwells.  Psalm 23 talks about spiritual experiences in relation to the landscape – the valley of the shadow of death is a hard and difficult place but the psalmist finds God’s love and strength even there.

The New Testament picks up these pictures.  Jesus leads the disciples to a mountain top experience at the transfiguration and then back down into the valley to deal with the daily reality of life.  Paul writes in Romans that “height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (8.39).  In Ephesians Paul prays that we might be able to comprehend “the breadth, length, height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (3.18).

Our Christian faith and the joy God brings is not just for sunny days and mountaintop experiences.  In his hands are the depths of the earth.  His love is with us in the depths of human desolation. The LORD has been there and is there with us.

This post is one of a series of daily reflections on Psalm 95 in January, at the start of the Diocese of Sheffield Centenary Year

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