The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; the world. and they that dwell therein. Ps. 24, v. 1, KJV
Thousands, millions—countless—creatures die every day due to fire, floods, drought, heat, cold. But why? Why does God allow His creation to die, often en masse? Why are the young taken, sometimes before they are born? Why are the weak and helpless the first to go? Why are the strong and healthy enabled to live longest? Where is the compassion? Where is the mercy?
In the act of Creation God grants life: however long, it is still life. As Marcus Aurelius once said in Meditations, the longest and the shortest lives are in the end the same: duration doesn’t matter, rather the simple fact—the gift—of life. God is a plentiful God. His creativeness knows no boundaries. The Creation is full, and this fullness is an expression of compassion and love.
The Psalmist, having established God’s sovereignty over the Creation, asks a sudden and astonishing question: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” (v. 3) Who will join with, be with, the Creator, in life and in death? When God creates, and when His creation dies, does that departed individual cease to exist, does it return to dust, to the primal elements?
The Psalmist responds that the innocent and pure will be with God in His holy place. And yet who is innocent? Who is pure? How can any created being be truly innocent and pure? What are the standards for such status?
“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart,” says the Psalmist (v. 4). Vanity and deceit: these are the detractors from innocence and purity. What creatures are vain and deceitful? What creatures are full of themselves, so sure of their own power, so tied to the mirror, so convinced that they are in fact gods? What creatures are deceivers, who refuse the truth, refuse to surrender themselves to what is real, who embrace the false, who create idols by which to deceive themselves and others? These are the creatures, says the Psalmist, who will not ascend to God’s holy place.
The brute creatures, the forms of life that humans despise, control, destroy--these, says the Psalmist, will ascend to the Lord’s holy mount. They are innocent and pure. And humans? What of them? They have a choice. What will they embrace? What code will they live by? Who will they join? Who will they worship? Who will they allow to enter their dwellings, their public buildings?
Open the gates to the city and its establishments, the doors to dwellings and homes, the access to the human heart and mind, so that the King of Glory shall enter.
Who is the King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.