By David Faust
Far back in a field on the farm where I grew up, there’s a tree our family for decades has called the Saxophone Tree. It’s rooted in the ground atop a creek bank. At first the oak’s two-and-a-half-foot thick trunk extends down about eight feet toward the creek. Then, as if it decided to make a U-turn and reach toward the sun, the tree stopped growing downward and the trunk abruptly turned straight up again, extending 40 feet or more into the sky. As a result, the tree is shaped like the letter J. It looks like a giant saxophone.
Purposed for Praise
We may think trees are rather mundane, but the Bible invites all of the trees on earth to praise God. Consider this call to worship in Isaiah 44:23: “Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.” Psalm 148:9 calls forth praise from “you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars.”
Does it seem strange that impersonal objects would praise God? Other than in a Disney movie, I’ve never seen a tree talk. But Scripture passages like these remind us that nature is designed to give glory to the one who created it. Rivers, mountains, flowers, oceans, stars—all of creation is meant to joyfully honor the Lord. Everything God created has praise as its highest purpose.
Pleasing to the Eye
In the Garden of Eden, “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:9). In What the Bible Says About Praise and Promise, James Van Buren poetically described how trees demonstrate God’s wisdom. He wrote:
“What an infinite variety of loveliness trees exhibit! There are . . . the tall pines, the blue spruces, the dark firs, the fragrant balsams . . . and the cedars. . . . the ‘weeping’ willows, the trim, prim poplars, the sturdy oaks, the maples, both hard and soft, the graceful elms. And not only are these beautiful in summer with their green luxuriance and with their shade dappling the ground, but in fall when touched with frost they flame out in a riot of browns, yellows and reds. . . . Besides these there are hundreds of varieties of flowering trees, . . . which flaunt exotic purple, yellow, crimson, blue and pink blossoms on verdant islands and along garden walks and jungle trails.”
Not all is beautiful about trees, of course. Sin has disrupted nature and twisted God’s perfect plans. In this fallen world tree limbs crash down and cause harm. Human hands fashion wood into idols.
But the Bible describes the untainted beauty of Heaven’s tree of life with leaves that heal the nations (Revelation 22:2). It tells how the corrupt tax collector Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus and in the process found salvation and joy. And the Bible points to another tree—the cross where Jesus bore our sins. Maltbie D. Babcock was right:
“This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought. Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—His hand the wonders wrought.”
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
|Psalm 19:1-4, 14
|3 John 2-8