‘Praise the LORD…’ (3)

‘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 pine trees.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys.’
Psalm 104:16-18

In 2006 there were about 38million pets in Australia, of which:
• 2.43M were owned cats.
• 3.75M were owned dogs.
• 20M were ornamental fish.
• 9M were pet birds.
• 3M were “other pets” – horses, rabbits, ferrets, reptiles, guinea pigs, rats, mice.

In 2005, consumers spent $4.62 Billion on their pets; Pet food accounted for more than $2BN of that and the Pet industry employed more than 40,000 people!

When He had finished creating ‘all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air’ God ‘brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name’. Genesis 2:19

Did the first family keep pets? I don’t know….

Israel, the nation, was a people of herdsmen and farmers; their appreciation of the land, of nature, was tied closely to their day to day needs and I doubt that they (even David) were always kindly inclined towards their livestock, but, as God’s caretakers, they (and we) should always welcome the sort of reminder that comes from Him in Psalm 104.

Here is a further passage from ‘Reflections on the Psalms’ by C.S.Lewis. At a time when we are no less a nation of ‘pet-people’ than we were in 2006 and when the ethics of ‘live export’ of sheep is in the news again, it may speak to us.

Lewis writes, ‘In the great Psalm especially devoted to Nature … (104) we have not only the useful cattle, the cheering vine, and the nourishing corn. We have springs where the wild asses quench their thirst, fir trees for the storks, hill country for the wild goats and ‘conies’ (perhaps marmots), finally even the lions….

Of course this appreciation of, almost this sympathy with, creatures useless or hurtful or wholly irrelevant to man, is not our modern ‘kindness to animals’.

That is a virtue most easily practised by those who have never, tired and hungry, had to work with animals for a bare living, and who inhabit a country where all dangerous wild beasts have been exterminated (Heaven forbid, however, that I should be thought to slight it. I only mean that for those of us who meet beasts solely as pets it is not a costly virtue. We may properly be kicked if we lack it, but must not pat ourselves on the back for having it. When a hard-worked shepherd or carter remains kind to animals his back may well be patted; not ours)…

The Psalmist’s clear objective view; noting the lions and whales side by side with men and men’s cattle; is unusual (for his time). And I think it is certainly reached through the idea of God as Creator and Sustainer of all.’

  • Jesus said,  ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.’ Matthew 10:29
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