Friday, January 12, 2007

He spoke of trees

A guest post by Andrew Errington
When the author of the book of Kings described Solomon’s wisdom, he wrote this:

“God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and largeness of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east, and all the wisdom of Egypt [...]. He [...] uttered three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish.”

- 1 Kings 4:29-34.

It was neither his capacity to make difficult political decisions nor his legendary ability to justly judge the disputes that were brought before him that the author mentions to explain his wisdom. Rather, it was the way Solomon spoke of the natural world, especially, it seems, trees.

I find this delightful. I like trees and have done so since I climbed the liquid amber in our front yard, wandered through aging poplars with my Grandfather, and discovered stands of bluegums in a quiet valley.

But more than that, this brief mention is a reminder of something that has been central to Nothing New Under the Sun: the created world is not incidental or unimportant in God’s purposes. We are not being saved from this world of coolabahs and cedar and kangaroos and kingfishers, but for it [ed: and with it!]. So it makes sense that at the heart of Solomon’s wisdom was reflection on God’s good world. He spoke of trees.
Ten points for the country in the pic. No posting this weekend as I will be away. Thanks to Andrew Errington for this post. He is also known as "andrewe" in comments.
UPDATE: Andrew has now started his own blog here.

18 comments:

::aaron g:: said...

Tree-irrific post. Very good.

michael jensen said...

Scotland? Lakes District?

I miss the Aussie trees: you forget how much of a place belongs to the trees. They SMELL differently.

Mind you, england has its wonderful Oaks with their acorns and squirrels.

felicity said...

Nice one andreas. I'm guessing NZ :)

Jonathan said...

I would have guessed Scotland, too. As for Aussie trees, you should have seen how I reacted after coming across the Australian section at Kew Gardens after being in England for a while! I think I prefer horse chestnuts to oaks.

andrew said...

Thanks Andrew for the very interesting post! I like trees too, and have hugged a few (esp. the bluegums in the Grose Valley), but as a birdwatcher I am glad that Solomon is recorded as having spoken of the birds too.

I've always loved Jesus' remark (recorded in Matt 6:26): "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

I think that God values birds terrifically, so the fact that he values me (and you) more is an embarrassment of riches!

Michael Canaris said...

Northern Ireland? Norway?

Christian A said...

Thanks Erro. I never noticed those verses about Solomon, so your post was a nice surprise.

Similarly, it was a nice surprise when I first heard that on of my heroes John Stott is an accomplished birdwatcher.

Solomon spoke 4000 proverbs and songs, but could still tell you a few things about trees too. Stott has produced thousands of sermons and books, but could still tell you a few things about birds. Check out this book:


http://www.amazon.com/Birds-Teachers-John-R-W-Stott/dp/1859852726

Drew said...

How tolkienian. Or rather, perhaps it is tolkien who is Solomonian ;)

andrewE said...

Thanks everyone. Not quite as edifying as Byron's recent posts, but solid food is often best with a little salad on the side.

byron said...

Good guesses everyone - some in particular were very close. However, the points for the country are still available.

michael jensen said...

England!

byron said...

Michael - ten points - it is indeed in the Lakes District. Well done.

andrew said...

Another Northern Hemisphere location! I have posted about this, but I don't know how (or if) I can put a link in this comment. The curious will find it...

byron said...

Here is the link to Andrew's post accusing me of anti-Australian bias. In my defense, check out these: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36.

No bias - just a truckload of Europe/US photos from a long trip at the end of last year (I'd just got a new digital camera and so went crazy taking photos). I also don't want the points to only be available to Australian readers (though some are very Sydney specific. Check out this).

PS For those who want to learn how to include links in your comments, try here.

byron smith said...

The Conversation: The (economic) value of urban trees.

byron smith said...

The Other Journal: The beautiful creatures - trees in the biblical story. A retelling of the biblical narrative from the perspective of trees - quite an interesting exercise.

byron smith said...

Nature: Consequences of widespread tree mortality triggered by drought and temperature stress.

byron smith said...

The ten most magnificent trees on the planet.