Upon reading the Bible this morning, I came upon verse 12 of Psalm 96, “Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.” I was reminded of a song we used to sing in Bible Camp. It is entitled, “When the Trees of the Wood Will Clap Their Hands.” As we sung this kid’s favorite, all would clap their hands at that part and sing out loudly. Being one of the adults there, I would wonder about trees clapping their hands-literally. Surely, I saw trees on the “Yellow Brick Road” engage humans in speech; however, this is not a fictional movie! But I did my share of wondering in awe.
So, do trees clap, the sea roar, do floods clap and hills rejoice (Ps. 98:8)? My answer is simply-yes. An inquisitive person would ask if I have ever seen or heard trees clap. I have heard mighty rushing winds that sounded like voices (another language only the Creator knows?). I have seen endless wheat fields sway back and forth, in the wind, as if dancing in the presence of the Almighty. Who could forget the majesty of the Tetons? Many a morning the alpenglow was glorious, as sunrise approached, giving the viewer a quick peak at God’s palette. There was no detectable sound, yet I knew there was praise taking place and it caused me to praise God too. What about the Grand Canyon? Nowadays folk gather there to discuss what millions of years have done to create it. Hogwash. Time was not the sculptor of this wonder, but a Holy God who either spoke it into existence or used a finger to etch it so. “I stand amazed in the presence…”
So, the verdict? Some say these verses are metaphorical, but not I. If God’s Word says these things, why couldn’t they be literal? Why do humans think they have to rationalize everything? “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rm. 11:33). Everything was created to praise God in one way or another, but humans have a choice; that sadly, not all exercise. From the early morning robin, to a rock on the ground (Lu. 19:40), to a hoot owl at night, to the clapping tree and even the stars (Job 38:7) these are all part of God’s choir. We have but a powerful lesson to learn from these things. We possess the wherewithal and knowledge yet we balk. Theologian Karl Barth summed this up beautifully when he wrote, “When man accepts…Jesus Christ…he is only like a late-comer slipping shamefacedly into creation’s choir in heaven and earth, which has never ceased its praise.”