Jenny's Psalm Reflections: Psalm 36 v.6

Today’s verse is Psalm 36 v.6

“You save humans and animals alike, O Lord.”

Background:

After many years of loyal companionship, a beloved pet gets sick. The vet can’t do anything but assure the owner of a painless death for their pet. For the pet owner, the loss is devastating. A “best friend” is gone.

The pain is often compounded by people who just don’t understand. “Get another one!” they say cheerily, as if this unique relationship could ever be duplicated. It’s further compounded by an uncertainty about what happens next. Is there a heaven for pets? Will we ever see our beloved animals again? These are questions I get asked frequently.  

Everyone wants to say yes. We would love to comfort grieving pet owners by assuring them of a future reunion, but is this really true? Does Scripture teach about a heaven for pets?

Everyone wants to say yes. We would love to comfort grieving pet owners by assuring them of a future reunion, but is this really true? Does Scripture teach about a heaven for pets?

I could write an essay on this but we’re focusing on verse 6 of Psalm 36 today! The Psalms frequently include animals in their songs of praise, along with forests, mountains, and heavenly bodies (Psalms 145:10-21 and 148:10). However, Psalm 36, verse 6 has a particularly stunning phrase: “You save humans and animals alike, O Lord.”

Illustration by jeremythomasart.co.uk
Illustration by jeremythomasart.co.uk

Christian writer C. S. Lewis floated an interesting theory in The Problem of Pain, suggesting that some animals will get to heaven on the coat-tails of their owners. That is, just as we enter a relationship with God because we are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), so our pets might be in us—they acquire “selfhood” through us, and thus might have “an immortality, not in themselves, but in the immortality of their masters.” In a later letter, Lewis added, “Of course we can only guess and wonder.”

For many of us, we have a vision of C.S. Lewis’ proposition and perhaps this verse helps to confirm that for us!

Meditation

1. Find a quiet place.

Sit comfortably but alert – feet flat on the floor, back pushed hard against the back of the chair.

2. Focus as well on your breathing.

Pay attention to in-breaths and out-breaths. You may think of breathing in God’s life and peace and breathing out any tension.

3. Be aware of your body.

Let your aches and pains be there. Rest your feet on the floor; still being aware of them pressed firmly into the floor. Shrug your shoulders, ease your neck. Take time to become still.

4. Bring before God a pet you have or may have had.

Say the verse aloud to yourself and don’t try to analyse. Read the words again slowly and listen to what your inner voice is saying.

5. Sit quietly and feel safe.

Hand over the situation to God.

6. Finish with this prayer:

O God, the well of life, make us bright with wisdom, that we may enlightened with your glory and trust in your compassion for humans and animals alike, in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted on March 18th 2021

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