Readers who follow contemporary secular Bible study are accustomed
to hearing a different interpretation of these verses. Modern
scholars understand the Psalms as hymns to alien gods. The pagans applied the economic principle of specialization of
labor to the heavens, and unfortunately today's secular Bible
scholars follow their lead. In reality all of nature is under God's sovereignty, including the weather: "He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes; He casts out His hail like morsels; Who can stand before His cold?
He sends out His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow."
(Psalm 147:15-18). However in the pagan pantheon this sole sovereignty is splintered
into a division of labor. Those Bible critics who take paganism as normative will tell you
the Lord is a 'storm-god' like Baal: "The divine qualities resemble those of
the Canaanite god Baal as described in the second millennium BC
literature of Ugarit, a city on the northern coast of Lebanon."
(Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention?, edited Daniel I. Block,
Kindle location 1181). But the living God is no
specialist, He is a generalist! Nothing in nature falls outside of His
sway. It's not that Baal isn't called, by his devotees, the 'rider on the clouds:' "Seven years
Baal will fail Eight years the rider of the clouds, no dew, no rain."
(quoted Kindle location 440, John D. Currid, Against the Gods). It's
just that he doesn't deliver: "When the great Hebrew prophet Elijah
makes his first appearance in Scripture, he is pictured confronting
Ahab, the king of Israel. The prophet pronounces a curse upon Israel
in the name of Yahweh, that 'there shall be neither dew nor rain
these years, except by my word' (1 Kings 17:1). . .It is critical to
note that the form of punishment is lack of rain. This is purposeful
and a directed curse: Israel has been worshipping Baal, who is the
Canaanite god of storms and rain. The reality is that Baal does not
control those elements of nature; only Yahweh does." (John D. Currid,
Against the Gods, Kindle location 470.) Jehovah is not a pale,
derivative imitation of Baal, as the secular scholars propose: Baal
is a fake, a non-entity. Nature belongs to the living God. Some of the features of the natural world form
part of the Lord's theophany in a distinctive way, by design, as a testimony.
Rain brings life to a desert land. "As, then, the seeds and plants
in the earth, when watered, grow and sprout and are prolific in
producing fruit, but, if no water be poured on them, wither away, so
the soul, as is evident, when it is fostered with a fresh sweet
stream of wisdom shoots up and improves." (Philo Judaeus, The
Posterity and Exile of Cain, Chapter XXXVI, p. 401 Loeb edition). The meteorological fountain of life-giving waters flowing onto a
parched land symbolizes the spiritual fount: "Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest."
(Isaiah 32:15). Precious as water is in an arid land, there
is another river flowing from the throne of God, of greater worth than the visible watercourses.
Robert Lowry's great hymn tells of this river: "Shall we gather at the river, Where bright
angel feet have trod, With its crystal tide forever, Flowing by the throne of God? Yes, we'll
gather at the river, The beautiful, the beautiful river, Gather with the saints at the river That
flows by the throne of God." (Robert Lowry, Shall We Gather at the River?).
The waters of this river give wisdom: "The words of a man's mouth are
deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook."
(Proverbs 18:4). Jesus promised these
waters to the woman at the well: "Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will
thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the
water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting
life." (John 4:13).
The promised fountain of life-giving water is the Holy Spirit: "For I
will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your
descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; they will spring up among the grass like willows by
the watercourses." (Isaiah 44:3-4).
This is the life-giving stream Jesus promised the woman at the well: "On
the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts,
let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart
will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning
the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy
Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
The Odes of Solomon is a piece of extra-Biblical literature of doubtful
orthodoxy, but this bit about the life-giving waters is too good to pass up quoting it:
"As the hand moves over the harp and the strings speak
so the spirit of the Lord speaks in my members
and I speak by his love,
"for he destroys what is foreign
"So he was from the beginning
and will be to the end:
nothing will be his adversary
nor resist him.
"The Lord multiplied his knowledge
and was zealous to make us know what he gives us
through his grace.
"He gave us praise for his name
and our spirits praise his holy spirit.
"A stream went forth
and became a long and broad river.
It flooded and broke and carried away the Temple.
Ordinary men could not stop it,
nor could those whose art is to halt the waters.
"And it spread over the face of the whole earth,
and the thirsty of the earth drank
and their thirst was quenched.
"The drink came from the highest one...
"They gave strength to our feebleness
and light to our eyes.
"Everyone knew them in the Lord
and by the water they lived forever."
(Ode 6, The Odes of Solomon).
The expansion into flood of the living waters is looked for also in
the inspired scriptures,
“And in that day it shall be that living waters
shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea
and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and
winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the
earth. In that day it shall be— 'The LORD is one,' and His name one.”
Hallelujah — the God in whose presence we will spend eternity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit!