Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths.
Psalm 148 summons all creation to praise the Lord: heavens, angels, sun, moon, clouds, weather, mountains, trees, animals, and a variety of human beings. Verse 7 invites “you great sea creatures” to praise God.
How, I wonder, are they going to do this? Of course I realize that this is not meant in a literal way, as if whales and sharks and dolphins might all of a sudden start singing “All Creatures of Our God and King.”
As I was thinking about how sea creatures might praise the Lord, I remembered an event that happened many years ago. My daughter Kara was working on a school project on grey whales. The timing of her project was such that it was possible for her actually to see grey whales as they migrated along the coast of Southern California. So our family went out on a whale-watching trip. We spent two hours with an expert guide, looking for whales, but without any luck. The company guaranteed whale sightings, however, so we were able to take a second trip for free. Once again, no whales. But this time we saw dolphins, hundreds of dolphins, many playing in the wake of our ship. They were jumping, flying, flipping, and frolicking in the churning white water. It was an amazing sight, like nothing I had ever seen before.
I don’t suppose that these dolphins were thinking about God as they played that day. But I do believe God was glorified as they used their natural abilities, their God-given abilities, to swim, to jump, and, yes, to play. No, I did not invent this idea. Psalm 104:26 refers to “Leviathan, which you formed to frolic [in the sea].” When large sea creatures jump out of the water just for fun, they are doing the thing for which they were created. They are praising God playfully, doing well what God made them to do.
As you know, I often write about how we can worship God through our daily work. This dimension of worship has been ignored in many of our Christian communities and deserves plenty of attention. But, today I’m impressed by the possibility of play that praises God. Surely we glorify God when we use our abilities to do good work. But we were also made to play, to run and jump, to dance, and to laugh. We too can glorify God when we play, delighting in his creation, offering ourselves to him in all that we do, in work and in rest, in prayer and in play.
Something to Think About:
What do you think about praising God playfully?
When could play honor God?
When might play be dishonoring to God?
Are there types of play that are more worshipful than others? If so, why?
Something to Do:
Do something playful today as a way of thanking God for the gifts of fun, joy, and laughter.
Gracious God, you have made us in your image. You have created us to work, even as you work. You have recreated us in Christ for good works, as we steward well the world you have entrusted to us and the gospel you have given us to proclaim in word and deed. But you have also made us with a capacity for play. May we discover how to offer you ourselves, not only in work and gathered worship, but also in play. May our laughter reflect and increase your delight. May our play be praise for you, dear Lord. Amen.