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For the Beauty of the Earth

Wisdom in God's created order

Proverbs 8:27-31

27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

28 When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,

29 When He assigned to the sea its limit,
So that the waters would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,

30 Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,

31 Rejoicing in His inhabited world,
And my delight was with the sons of men.


It’s the little things.

Take a look around you, at the beauty of Creation. What do you see? Even its state of fallenness, the earth is filled with God’s creative splendor. Life pulses in the grasses, the trees, in the bodies of the creatures that swim, fly, or walk on its surface. 

Have you ever looked at a leaf? In the spring they emerge as supple young buds, uncurling from branches. They are thick and green in the summer, and in the autumn they turn the colors of the sunrises and sunsets they have witnessed before softly drifting to earth.

For you to rake. As you do so, pick up a leaf and notice the veins within. The intricate lines that fork remind you of small streams flowing down to form deeper creeks and finally rivers. These rivers seem to trace down to the Mississippi that is the tree trunk, at last reaching the the vast sea that is the ground. 

Now look at an overhead topographic map (or Google earth) and see the mountain streams that form creeks and rivers, flowing over waterfalls and through lakes to become a blue or brown torrent before reaching the ocean. 

All of these systems: the waterways, the vascular systems of plants–even the vascular systems of you and me–are interconnected and reflect God’s grand design. You, and the world around you, bear the fingerprints of your Creator. No wonder that when He finished making it all, He declared it “good” and then rested. 

As Solomon draws his prologue to Proverbs to a close, he has reintroduced Lady Wisdom to call his pupils to heed her words, and to pay special attention to her high status. Dame Folly calls them to follow her to death and destruction, but Lady Wisdom gives life–and she holds a special place with the God of the universe who has sent her. 

In the words of Lady Wisdom, you are brought back to the very dawn of time as the voice of God spoke all things into being, and she is right there with Him:

27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,–Proverbs 8:27

Wisdom is of God and not a product of sin like foolishness. In this passage, she is present as God prepared or “fixed” the heavens into place. The “circle on the face of the deep” describes the very horizon, the 360-degree circle when earth meets sky that you see when you stand on a high mountain or on a ship at sea. 

More than wisdom being simply a quality that one can possess, it is in this sense a person. And you know from previous study that this person, preeminent before all other beings and all creation, is none other than Christ the Son and second member of the godhead (I Corinthians 1:22-24). 

These passages are stirring to read in many ways, but the presence of Jesus in creation here in Proverbs must be considered very carefully. Misinterpretation of these words can lead to terrible doctrine, and the lies of the devil can lead others easily away to sinful conclusions. 

For instance, the presence of Lady Wisdom in creation has been acknowledged by some as the existence of the divine feminine: that God is female, or that gender lines are blurred and only an “oppressive” human construct. A quick internet search reveals many articles by non-believers who have found validation for sins, or who delight in tearing down what God has ordered.  

Another, more serious issue has been the rise of a terrible heresy attacking the deity of Christ. You must remember that Jesus may have been born a baby in a manger, but Christ is not a created being. Though Wisdom in Proverbs speaks of and uses imagery of “birth” (8:22), Jesus was not created by God. The Son is begotten of the Father, He is eternally generated by Him and is without beginning or end.  

In the third century, Arius took Proverbs 8 and asserted that the birth claims of wisdom proved Jesus a creation and not truly God. As a result, the Council of Nicaea was convened in 325 to directly counter these destructive claims and confirm the nature of Christ as truly God.   

So it is with careful fascination that you tread these wondrous passages. Solomon continues with his account of Wisdom as witness to creation:

28 When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,

29 When He assigned to the sea its limit,
So that the waters would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,–Proverbs 8:28-29

The beauty of God’s created order begins to come into clear focus in these verses. Here, the chaos of the oceans are held at bay by His voice and hand, and the stability of all the earths systems ensured. Commentator Bruce Waltke describes these passages in this way: 

All the metaphors for creation in verses 27 through 29 signify that each element is so firmly fixed that none can overreach or transgress another. Otherwise the cosmos would crumble into chaos.–Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs” 

God is no watchmaker, for without His calming, creative power, all things would quickly fall apart:

Human existence requires such a firmly fixed universe. This divinely fixed order served as a model of I AM’s fixed moral boundaries that prevent human society from atomizing into anarchy.–Waltke

It is your Heavenly Father’s continual presence in His creation and His divine providence that keeps the chaos and terror of the nightly news, or your Twitter timeline from pouring into your home. 

Solomon concludes these passages with Wisdom revealing the sheer joy experienced in creation–and why God would even perform the act of creating:

30 Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,

31 Rejoicing in His inhabited world,
And my delight was with the sons of men.–Proverbs 8:30-31

God, the master craftsman, took great pleasure in creating the universe, the world–and you. God was happy to make and build! Tim Keller explains how and why the Father and the Son worked:

The father and the Son delighted in the world they made and in us. We see the beauty in things when they are rightly related to one another.–Tim Keller, “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life” 

God created the earth and universe out of passion, and in its design there is beauty that reflects Him. Think about this, about the leaves and rivers above. The more you think about how this design is purposed, that it is a reflection of God’s delight the more you will delight in it. Just as God delights in you. Keller continues:

God created us simply for the joy and love of it. He loves us not instrumentally – for what he can get out of us – but for us. So it is the height of wisdom to love God for Himself alone, and to value human beings not simply for what we can get from them but as beings who reflect the image of our maker. Genesis 1:26–Tim Keller

Do you love God for what you can get from Him–or do you love Him for His goodness and who He is? This can be hard when you live in an age of inflation, need and want, or if you simply become too focused on your own desires. It is easy to love God in hopes of a faithful husband, a happy family, good health, or earthly security. But these passages show you that God–the author and finisher of all things–is SO much more.

What does living in God’s created order mean to you? Do you notice its beauty? The relation of things to one another reflects His glory. The relation of a woodpecker to the specific pine trees it inhabits is part of this beauty. A piece of music or a graceful stone arch is pleasing to the senses. [Speaking of arches, do not miss our own Bruce Van Patter’s wonderful recent column on archways!] 

As when Wisdom rejoiced, when you notice God’s creation and appreciate its order, it pleases God. Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards speaks of this:

God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory…both [with] the mind and the heart. –Jonathan Edwards 

In our modern culture, calls for action (mostly in the form of confiscatory taxation) against “global warming” or “climate change” can seem to a realist like the folly of the Roman Emperor Caligula ordering his legions to attack the waves of the sea in order to wage war on the god Poseidon. As a result, it may be tempting to many, including believers, to disregard the care and stewardship of creation. Land is stripped, forests are cleared for “cookie cutter” housing, and the oceans can be polluted. 

If God delights in His creation, then so should you delight in caring for it. This is not a call to give in to government regulations or mass hysteria, but to be sensible and sensitive to how you treat creation. One of my favorite writers is Robert Ruark, whose columns for Field & Stream in the 1950’s and books about his childhood with his grandfather in North Carolina I have enjoyed for many years. Ruark’s grandfather gives good advice about wildlife conservation:

"...a sportsman, is a gentleman first. But a sportsman, basically, is a man who kills what he needs, whether it's fish or bird or animal, or what he wants for a special reason, but he never kills anything just to kill it. And he tries to preserve the very same thing that he kills a little of from time to time. The books call this conservation. It's the same reason why we don't shoot that tame covey of quail down to less'n ten birds."-Robert Ruark, “The Old Man and the Boy”

Speaking of being a “gentleman,” you find this beauty in the relationships you have with other people too. This may be one of the most wonderful aspects of this created order: that God has created us for Himself, and us for each other. Do you delight in other people? In other believers? Or are people simply a source of problems in your life? Living with other sinners can be messy–but Jesus lived with us, and He loves you in spite of your messiness. 

With Jesus, Jonathan Edwards reveals another aspect of creation directly related to the Son and His rejoicing at its forming:

The creation of the world seems to have been especially for this end: that the eternal Son of God might obtain a spouse, towards whom He might fully exercise the infinite benevolence of His nature and to whom He might, as it were, open and pour forth all that immense fountain of condescension, love and grace that was in His heart, and that in this way God might be glorified.–Jonathan Edwards

How about that? Jesus loves you and He loves the church. His joy at creation was in the forming of His bride-to-be. As Adam looked on Eve in the garden and saw “flesh of his flesh,” so Jesus looks on you and His church in eternal love.

Look around you. Can you see God’s eternal love? The evidence of His creative glory? Look upon it and sing His praise–as the old hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth” proclaims:

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise!



The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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