An attempt has been made in this thesis to examine the concept of God and the natural order in the hook of Psalms. The investigation is made in the
wider context of the ancient Near Eastern world and the O.T. Modern
approaches to the interpretation of the Psalms also have been taken into
The nature-religions of ancient Mesopotamia,Egypt and Canaan throw
light to illuminate the distinctive elements of the O.T faith in God and
His relation to the natural world. The nature-religions hardly maintained
any distinction® between gods and nature-powers. For the order of the universe
and for the safety of man, the adherents of these religions desired to
maintain the status quo by keeping the harmony between man and the powers
It was in this context that the O.T emerge as a great break through
in the concept of God and the natural order. Nature has been liberated
from the powers of capricious deities and brought under the purposive rule
of a creator who reveals His moral purposes to His devotees. The creator God
is above and beyond the world of matter. He is independent and free in
His decisions. This concept of the absolute transcendence and freedom of
God was another volte-face in the ancient world of nature-religions.
In the Psalms we find a cross section of the faith of Israel. The
poets represent the faith and aspirations of the rank and file who led
largely an agricultural and pastoral life. The Psalmists make no apologies
for sharing the literary patterns and thought-forms of the ancient N.East.
It was in this cultural matrix that the religion of Israel was born and
brought up. Since the people of Israel was part and parcel of this ancient
culture, the question of borrowing patterns and ideas does not arise in this context. The common Semitic culture does not obliterate the distinctive
features of the faith of Israel.
Among the psalms, the Hymns of Praise should be mentioned first as
the eloquent witness to the concept of God and Nature. They are followed
by the Royal psalms,the Psalms of lament,the Wisdom psalms and the Psalms
of mixed type. A large number of these psalms have either been originated
or used in the cult of Israel. Their language springs from the agricultural
or pastoral needs of the individual or the community.
The main interest of these psalms is the praise and glory of God
under whose shelter one can confidently take refuge in times of crisis.
Use other side if necessary.
The Psalmists saw the reality of God through the tangible events of the
physical world,in the gift of rain and the fertility of the land. The
unexpected events in Nature have been seen as the signs and wonders of the
divine government. Nature,in a sense,revealed the power and authority of
the living God. It declared the majesty and glory of its creator.
Nature has been interpreted in personal terms and thus the Psalms
develop a love for the phenomena of Nature which according to these poets
were fellow workers in creation. Man and the natural order participate in
the continuous process of creation which is always on the move at the
behest of its creator. Creation is not just an event 'once upon a time',
but a process constantly continuing at the command of the Lord.
These psalms, perhaps for the first x± time in the O.T,declare nature
as an orderly cosmos governed and guided by a personal God who has moral
purposes. A secular understanding of nature devoid of God's relation to i
is foreign to the thinking of the Psalmists. A scientific explanation of
the origin of the physical universe or its working is not found in the
Psalms. The concern of the Psalms is pragmativ and theological. They try
to answer how in the order of the physical universe man can work for the
glory and purposes of God. They answer where man can find shelter in time
of crisis and catastrophe. They do not speculate about the origin or the
end of the universe. But they declare the present working of the physical
world from a theological stand point. Since God is the creator and
sustainer of Nature,the Psalmists show no diffidence or fear about the
present or the future. No chaotic powers have any final sway over the
order of the universe because God is at the helm of its affairs. This
optimistic outlook of the Hebrew poets imparts confidence to the people Israel to work creatively for the glory of God.
Man is no unique creature by birth. He stands along with the world
of phenomena. They are called to be His obedient servants and work for
the continuity of creation. Here, the Psalmists note a point of discord
and disharmony between man and His creator. Man is prone to disobey while the natural phenomena show implicit obedience to the inviolable laws of
God. The Psalmists wish for the extinction of this malicious cancer from
the order of the universe. Only through obedience and loyalty to the Kin;
and Creator of the universe that man achieves the full end of his position
as the vicegerent of God. His chief responsibility is to acknowledge
gratefully the talents and privileges from the Suzerain and in dependence
on Him,co-operate with the phenomena of nature and work for the greater
glory of his Maker.