He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts. The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the junipers. The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the hyrax. – Psalm 104:10-18
This psalm is all about God providing for both humans and nature through springs, rain, and ultimately the hydrologic cycle. The sentence “He makes springs pour water into the ravines” holds special meaning for me. I have been working in Haiti for about 8 years now and in the region I have worked most of the water is provided by natural springs emerging from limestone rock. They often flow out of the hillside and into a ravine where they become a surface stream. Unfortunately, many of these springs are not pristine and have bacterial contamination which can be harmful, especially to children.
The description here of water flowing between the mountains is very accurate. Most of the rural Haitians build their homes on ridges between ravines or valleys. This means that to access the springs, which are located in ravines, one has to walk some distance down into the ravine and back up again with the water you are carrying. The Haitians typically carry the water in 5-gallon buckets on their heads.
God provides water for us, the Haitians, the beasts of the field, wild donkeys, the birds of the sky, and everything else in creation — “He waters the mountains from his upper chambers”. The water is taken up by evaporation, carried to the mountains where it falls as rain or snow, then it rejoins the parade back toward the ocean or basin from which it came.
This is an interesting spiritual metaphor for our lives. God has described babies in the womb as being in a secret place receiving love and instruction from God…a spiritual ocean if you will. We are born, i.e. we are precipitated onto the earth into our bodies to do all the things we do here on earth — we join the parade back toward the ocean from which we came. When we die we are poured out, back into the spiritual ocean from which we came. This is not an argument for reincarnation or any such thing. I think that though we are derived from a “spiritual ocean” our spirits are individual and distinct. God knows us and loves us as individual souls.
God sustains us on our journey through “grass for the cattle; “plants for people to cultivate — bringing forth food from the earth”; “wine that gladdens human hearts”; “oil to make their faces shine”; and “bread that sustains their hearts”. God has given us everything we need to be healthy and happy during our journey here on earth…”The trees of the Lord are well watered”. We have the water we need even if sometimes it is not the water we want.
The last part of the passage describes a whole world that God is caring for that is beyond our everyday lives – “The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the hyrax”. I confess I had never heard of a hyrax before reading this passage. It sounds a bit like an animal from a Dr. Seuss book….”Horton hears a hyrax”. They are really interesting critters that live in this part of the world in the “crags of mountains”. They look a little bit like the backwoods cousin of a mammal called a marmot that is common in the Cascade mountains of Washington state where I grew up.
Prayer: God thank You for providing for us as we live here on earth. Help us to feed both our bodies and our souls along the way.