“All the trees of the forest shall shout for joy!” (96:12)
Obviously, this verse is not literally true. Trees do not shout, trees do not experience joy. How, though, might we understand this as metaphorical truth? How do trees experience the presence of God? The Divine Presence, in the form of gentle rain, causes trees to grow and turn green. In the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms, it snaps branches and pulls trees out of the ground. Severe heat and drought, understood as the absence of God’s presence, causes trees to turn brown. Trees depends on the natural world no less than we do to provide a livable ecosystem.