Psalm 96:5, 11-13 The gods are mere idols, but the Lord made the heavens! Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise before the Lord, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.
And the zebras . . .
I’ll get back to that.
If you’ve been following this blog, these words from Psalm 96 may sound familiar. They’re almost exactly the same as part of 1 Chronicles 16 that I quoted on November 2, an appropriate passage to revisit in Advent, for he is coming! I always think of this passage in connection with Isaiah 55:12, “You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!”
Back to the zebras. Yesterday I took Caleb to the zoo. The Pittsburgh zoo is built up the side of a fairly steep hill. Before we reached our goal, the aquarium at the top where we could enjoy his beloved fish out of the cold (Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!), I needed a potty stop. Fittingly, the restroom’s wallpaper features a variety of animals. Including zebras. It took me right back to what could have been identical wallpaper decorating a pediatrician’s waiting room where Karis and I sat one day when she was small.
Our wait was long that day, giving me the chance to make up some too-often-slighted devotional time. Karis and I read together Psalm 96 and Isaiah 55. When we read the verses quoted above from Psalm 96, Karis said, eyeing the wallpaper, “And the zebras will praise God too!” When we reached Isaiah 55:12, she insisted again, “And the zebras. Mom, you left them out!” I showed her, a beginning reader, both texts (no zebras, Sweetheart), but that didn’t dent her conviction that God intended the zebras to be part of both. Somehow, whoever wrote my Bible made a mistake and left them out.
Still killing time as we waited for the doctor, and trying to distract her, I started singing a song set to Isaiah 55. When I got to “and the trees of the field will clap their hands,” Karis sang loudly instead, “and the zebras in the zoos will praise God too.”
For months, any context of praise elicited from Karis, “and the zebras!”
The zebras weren’t in evidence yesterday as Caleb and I climbed the hill past their pasture. Too cold, I guess. But as Caleb and I gazed at the fascinations of the aquarium I was prompted to sing, “and all the fish in the seas will praise God too,” still hearing in my mind Karis’s insistent little voice, “and the zebras, Mama!”
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!
You have taught children and infants to give you praise.
If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!