“Do it Again!”–Chesterton and Psalm 104

As of today I have not read G.K. Chesterton‘s book Orthodoxy. In fact, I have never actually read any full piece written by the man. (I suppose he has not made it near the top of my “most urgent to read” list; however, most books and authors don’t). But, in my opinion, Chesterton is kind of like Catholicism’s C.S. Lewis–both are fantastic writers, creative thinkers, and excellent thought provokers. (And actually, interestingly enough, I think more evangelicals read and like Chesterton than Catholics; but that’s besides my point). Consequently, he’s one of those guys that just gets quoted left and right.

In fact, not too long ago I was flipping channels at work and noticed that PBS was doing a mock “ask Chesterton” show. Of course it was all scripted, but one by one audience members would ask a man who was dressed up as Chesterton a question that promoted this mock Chesterton to recite the appropriate quote that he had seemingly memorized before the show. It was straight up bizarre but oddly interesting.

But anyways, because Chesterton is quoted so often, his works are commented on in various forms of literature (blogs, books, etc.), and PBS likes to do peculiar shows about him, I feel like I am almost half-way introduced to this man and his mind. If nothing else, I often am privileged to read excerpts from his writings. I ran across one such excerpt the other day, a rather popular quote of his actually. And not thirty minutes later I read Psalm 104. I couldn’t help but think how wonderfully the two went together. So I thought I’d share them both with you side by side as I encountered them that day.

“Do it Again”

The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning, but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun, and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.

~ G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), 91-92.

Psalm 104

1       Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
2       covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.
3       He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
he rides on the wings of the wind;
4       he makes his messengers winds,
his ministers a flaming fire.

5       He set the earth on its foundations,
so that it should never be moved.
6       You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7       At your rebuke they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
8       The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
to the place that you appointed for them.
9       You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.

10       You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
11       they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12       Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
13       From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14       You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15       and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

16       The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17       In them the birds build their nests;
the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18       The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

19       He made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
20       You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21       The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
22       When the sun rises, they steal away
and lie down in their dens.
23       Man goes out to his work
and to his labor until the evening.

24       O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25       Here is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
26       There go the ships,
and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

27       These all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
28       When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29       When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30       When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.

31       May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works,
32       who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33       I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34       May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.
35       Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Praise the LORD!

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