You send forth your spirit, they are created: and you renew the face of the earth.
From the dawn of literature, poets have sung the praises of the spring. Chaucer, the earliest of the great English poets, tells us that nothing could take him from his studies
"Save certeynly whan that the monethe of May
Is comen, and that I here the foules synge,
And that the floures gynnen for to sprynge,
Fairewel my boke and my devocioun."So also Wordsworth sings —
"To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."But whether we are poets or not we may yield ourselves to the gentle influences of the spring. How welcome it is after the ice-bound winter. You may see the welcome on many a pale face and in the weary eyes of the invalid to whom it will be the coining of a new life. You may hear it in the happy laughter of children who can now go out to play in the meadows and to gather cowslips by the river's brim. Spring has the peculiar charm of anticipation. It is like the rosebud to the rose. Not the tired dusty veteran laying his weapons down, but the young and ardent soldier buckling on his armour for the war. Spring is the truest emblem of childhood, and childhood is a springtime which is always with us if we look for it. There is always a new world in the cradle and in the playground. A new generation travels across the planet every thirty years. It is the merciful provision of God by which He stirs up the stagnant pool of our thought and interest. It would be sad indeed if we saw around us the evidences of the mighty power of God in nature, if we felt that sinful and guilty men were like dead branches which nettling could renew. But the Word we preach is a gospel of infinite hope. The infinite love of God, the mercy of a Saviour, and the power of the Spirit hover around the hardest heart and the most deified life seeking to renew and cleanse and to impart the Eternal and Heavenly Life. "Thou renewest the face of the earth," but it is only a renewal and a repetition of those forms of life which have appeared year after year and age after age. They seem new to us and no doubt culture does introduce some fresh varieties, but practically we look upon the same world as the psalmist did when he wrote these words. And to apply the analogy to human life, we find that there is no new thing under the sun." They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage in the days of Noah when the flood came upon the earth, and so will it be when the Son of Man shall come. "Thou renewest the face of the earth," but it is only the face. The earth itself remains the same. The ripples pass over the face of the great deep. It may even roll in great billows, but beneath is the undisturbed ocean. So while there are processes wrought by raging fires in the heart of the earth which we know little about, while a lonely rock is upheaved or sunk suddenly here and there in some lonely sea, the general configuration of mountain and plain, land and water is unchanged. Or if we go down through the earth's crust we find that the geological strata were formed long before the historic period. Granite was still granite, coal was still coal. chalk was chalk, and the old red sandstone was still there. Or to carry it further back, the ultimate elements of matter wore the same as now and subject to the same laws. In exactly the same way, while the face of human life is renewed, in its depths it is very old. If we measure it intellectually, it has never varied. None of our inventions can add a single ounce to the human brain, or a single capacity to the human mind. We know better how to use the forces of light and heat and electricity, but if we go back to the age which knew none of these things we find teachers as wise, thinkers as subtle, and poets as sublime as those of to-day. The moral and spiritual needs of man are unchanged. Sin and sorrow and death cast their shadow on his path; he is a victim to the same fears; he is facing the religious problems of 3,000 years ago; he lives in the same wonderful relation to the unseen; his most urgent cry is still for God. Therefore the world can never outgrow the answer which Christ offers to its cry. Every age, every condition and period of life may rest upon the rock, which is Christ, just as the wintry ice and the spring flowers rest upon the same substratum of earth.
(J. H. Shakespeare, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.