Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you: and the fishes of the sea shall declare to you.
The argument of the patriarch is based on the fact that the hand of God is to be traced everywhere in nature and in human life. The words of the text are a striking expression of the truth that —
I. THE EARTH IS A MATERIAL SYMBOL OF SPIRITUAL IDEAS. This thought has ever been dear to spiritual minds. They have loved to trace in visible nature suggestions regarding the invisible. It was preeminently characteristic of the Hebrews that they associated God with all natural phenomena. When Christ came He added intensity to the idea by connecting God with all natural life in its most commonplace as in its grandest manifestations. So the idea took possession of the Christian Church that nature and Scripture are but two pages of one revelation.
II. IT IS FOR US TO INTERPRET ITS SYMBOLISM AND FIND ITS HIDDEN MEANINGS. Restrict attention to lessons suggested by the returning spring. What whisperings of hope, of trust, of joy may the inner ear catch as we speak to the earth in this season of its re-creation.
1. Speak, and it will teach thee of its Author. We see everywhere the operation of a marvellous power. Everywhere life and beauty are manifesting themselves. You may find secondary causes to explain the phenomena, but at last you are driven to the necessity of recognising one great first cause.
2. Speak to the earth, and it will teach thee of God's superabounding care for the lowliest forms of life. The lowliest forms are shaped with the same care, and adorned with the same profusion that belong to the mightiest creations of God.
3. Speak to the earth, and it will teach thee that God means our human life to be bright and joyous. God recognises our innate sense of beauty, the imagination, the heart, with its chambers of imagery, and He makes appeal to this sense in the loveliness with which this spring season adorns the earth. Be not afraid of joy and brightness in life; they are no foes of a true spirituality.
4. Speak to the earth, and it will teach thee lessons of hopefulness.
(1) It whispers a message of hope for the mourner. What is this springtide but nature's resurrection morning?
(2) Spring whispers a message of hope for all who have been defeated in life's conflict. We see a hint in this season that a new start in life is possible.
(3) It whispers a message of hope for all who seek the world's improvement. He who labours for the spiritual and moral advancement of his fellows must needs have faith and patience.
III. SPEAK THEN TO THE EARTH.
1. Hold frequent communion with nature. Such a habit expands the mind and refines the feelings.
2. Bring to the study of nature a spiritual heart. The "dry light of reason" is not enough if you would hear the subtlest whispers of nature's voice.
3. Connect, as Christ did, all nature with God. He is the centre and all-pervading Spirit. Without the Divine idea nature is a harp from which the strings have been taken, a riddle to which there is no answer, a mystery without possibility of solution.
(James Legge, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.