Psalm 93

“The ocean sounds its thunder.” (93:3)

Those of us who spend our lives on dry land enjoy the sense of moving about on a surface which moves so slowly as to be imperceptible most of the time. It doesn’t take too much time on a small boat to realize that most of the surface of the planet is literally fluid, moving about in somewhat predictable but generally uncontrollable ways. It is a great metaphor for the human life. We want to live in stable, controlled environments, but every once in a while the ocean roars and overturns our carefully constructed lives. At that point, all we can do is hang on and ride the wave.

Psalm 92

“How very deep are Your designs!” (92:6)

Ask anyone who has been treated for cancer or another serious illness — the design of the human body is complex and when something goes wrong, the treatment throws other parts of the body system out of balance. When all is working, the system is a coordinated ballet of organs and circulation doing their job in perfectly balanced harmony. The design of every replicating entity, from the tiniest virus to a single-celled organism to plant and animal life is beautiful and miraculous in its design.

Psalm 83

“Let us take the meadows of God.” (83:13)

People often say that their most spiritual moments come when they are away from other people, the synagogue or church building, and they are by themselves surrounded only by nature. It is in the meadows, amidst the mountains, the desert, or bodies of water, that they find God. I get this. People can be difficult and distracting. But prayer is not only a time to connect with God for its own sake, it is a spiritual discipline meant to refine the human being. And learning to find God while accepting others for who they are, annoying quirks and all, is the highest level of spiritual achievement.

Psalm 71

“In utero, I was dependent on You.” (71:6)

The Grand Canyon and the Himalayas may be majestic and breathtaking, but there is no greater miracle than that of the creation of life. Science can describe the way a zygote becomes an embryo and grows into a child, but that doesn’t take away the gratitude for the baby’s birth, as we watch the child, so long dependent on the mother for everything, take the first step towards becoming an independent person.

Psalm 67

“May the earth yield its produce.” (67:7)

Earlier in my life I loved planting gardens. I was fascinated by sprouting things and amazed at the tiny seeds which produce tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Sometimes I was disappointed when I planted a seed and saw nothing grow but weeds, as in the oath Job took on the land, “If my land cries out against me, or … if I ate its yield without paying, … instead of wheat let thistles grow, instead of barley, weeds.” (Job 38:40) Most of the time, however, the earth gladly yielded what I sowed, and for that, I was thankful.