By Mike Flom
God’s glory is seen most clearly in His plan of redemption and the gospel, but we see His glory in creation as well (Ps. 19:1; Is. 6:3), especially in these summer months. The flowers, green leaves of trees, fruited bushes, and creatures of all kinds remind us of our Creator.
The person who wrote Psalm 104 must have written it on a beautiful summer day. In verse 24 the psalmist overflows with joy as he observes God’s creation:
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”
You Made Them All
The “works” the psalmist is admiring in this psalm include creatures, plants, mountains, the sun and moon, but in the last clause of verse 24 above, he focuses on creatures only. So, let us assume the psalmist is praising God for the variety of creatures he sees, including the great variety of mammals, birds, and sea creatures he has observed.
This is one thing that arrested my attention many years ago when I began to watch birds as a hobby. Before taking up bird watching I thought I knew most birds, the 10-20 species I had seen in children’s books. When I purchased my first birding field guide, however, I was astonished. There are about 1,800 bird species in North America (about 450 of them seen in Minnesota) and about 11,000 bird species worldwide. Not only that, worldwide there are approximately 5,000 mammal species, 18,000 reptile and amphibian species, 20,000 fish species (not to mention other water creatures), and anywhere from 1 to 6 million insect species. Wow!
Now, why did God create this way? He could have created a very stark world with few animal species and few individuals, or He could have made few species with abundant individuals, for example a world with superabundant robins and blackbirds but nothing else. There are probably many reasons why God created the world with such a vast variety of creatures, but we do know that in whatever he does he manifests His glory. He chose the way that gives Him the most glory. God loves variety and, in that variety, we see His infinite mind, power, and creativity.
In Wisdom He Made Them All
The psalmist also praises God for his wisdom in creating all his creatures. The Hebrew word for wisdom used in this verse can include the meaning of technical skills in fashioning things (Ex. 28:3), and that meaning is fitting here. The psalmist is saying that God fashioned every one of the millions of creature species by wisdom. What does that entail? Naturalists, those who study earth’s creatures in detail, have observed that each species has its own natural history: what it eats, where it lives, how it reproduces, its habits and ways, etc. (By the way, they have studied in detail only a small percentage of the millions of species). So, God in his wisdom must have decided each creature’s natural history before he created it and designed a body to accommodate that creature’s way of life.
For example, consider the bird we call the barn swallow, a fairly common bird we see in this area. Here are some of the decisions God had to make before he created it:
Food: insects; those that fly in the open areas, rather than those which are plant-dwellers.
Habitat: open grasslands, farm fields, even open areas in suburbs.
Migration: Yes. The insects needed for its survival require the swallow to migrate because it can find flying insects here in Minnesota only during our summer months. The swallow must migrate and be near the equator or in the southern hemisphere during our winters. In fact, some barn swallows migrate from Canada to Argentina, some 12,000 miles.
Wings, tail, and body: God chose a long pointed “swept-back” wing with a long, forked tail and a streamlined body so as to enable the swallow to both change direction quickly and fly effortlessly for hours each day gobbling up bugs as he goes.
Coloration: God sometimes chooses colors for creatures for protection from predators, as with the camouflaging browns of ground-dwelling sparrows and thrushes. He gave beauty to this swallow (cobalt blue on top, salmon color below) which has few natural enemies.
There are many more features of this bird I did not mention, such as nesting, reproduction, timing of birth and migration, the design of its eyes and feathers, etc. Furthermore, there are probably thousands of considerations I cannot even think of, but God knows them all and He created a perfect bird for his glory and our enjoyment.
Also, I have oversimplified God’s decision-making process. He doesn’t need to think sequentially as I did. He can both think and create a creature instantaneously. This is just one bird out of 11,000 species, and just one creature species out of millions. God, in his wisdom, designed and created every one of them. Amazing!
God’s Wisdom Far Greater Than Man’s
There is a huge gap between God’s wisdom and man’s wisdom. One way to see this is to compare something God made with a comparable creation of man – a bird with an airplane, for example. The plane may be supersonic, faster than any bird, and the plane may be able to fly remotely like a drone, but it is not nearly as flexible as is the bird in the air. What is more, the plane is not a living thing and cannot reproduce itself like a bird can. And one more thing: How many years of designing, testing, and failures of parts and prototypes went into making the airplane? God’s bird was perfect the first time and it happened instantly by His word.
And where did man get the idea for the airplane in the first place? No doubt it was from observing God’s birds - admiring the beauty and the ease of a hawk soaring or a swallow darting in the air, for example. In fact, more scientists these days are studying various animals to help them solve certain engineering problems: the owl to reduce noise in aircraft, or the frog’s eye to improve radar, to name a couple. Unwittingly, in many cases, these researchers are really testifying to the superiority of God’s wisdom.
In this technological age, we are easily enamored by all our gadgets, but before the summer is out, when you see a bird, a bee, a butterfly, or a flower think of the wisdom that God invested in them. Like the psalmist, see God’s surpassing glory in His creation.