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Psalm 8:5–8 and 22:10: Whale Song

This interpretation of Psalm 8:5–8; 22:10 [The Message] was created and submitted by Barbara Sartorius Bjelland. The psalm imagery combines the transcendence of God the Creator with the immanence of God, who holds all things together with tender hands.

Psalm 8:5-8; Psalm 22:10



How does this psalm piece interpret the psalm? 
This interpretation functions as the psalms themselves do, calling attention to God’s transcendence and immanence written into creation. We join with the flying birds and singing whales in praising God, the Creator of all things.  

Along with so many of the psalms, this interpretation refutes a purely mechanistic view of the universe. We realize that it is in Christ that all things hold together (Col. 1:17); the universe does not function without divine involvement. The psalms create an environmental ethic with the understanding that God is the Creator and humanity is the steward of God’s very good creation. As Psalm 8:56 says, “You put us in charge of your handcrafted world.” (The Message). Humanity is to care for the world that God created and deeply loves. 

My image can be used to explore the relationship of science with faith as it leads viewers to appreciate the natural world as the work of a loving and ordered Creator. This is significant for ministry today as many feel they have to choose between faith and science.  

My interpretation portrays the hand of God that holds and upholds all things. God’s immanence is depicted by God’s hand, intimately present in Creation. God’s transcendence is signaled by a hand that is huge enough to cradle a whale. The hand in my painting was modeled on a mother’s hand holding her womb in anticipation of new birth. This hand is thus a fitting interpretation of the psalm phrase “womb-waters of the ocean deeps.” It speaks to viewers of God’s love and care for all things, great and small. 

Such a vision of God’s greatness and tender care is needed in these difficult days. God’s Spirit helps us to see God’s order and beauty that shine through creation. God’s Spirit enables humankind to care for creation. As beings created in God’s image, humanity is empowered to love and to create beauty. With the help of the whale song we learn to see, to listen, and to sing praise to God. 

Liturgical Suggestions:

This psalm interpretation can be used as a printed or digital visual in worship or Christian faith formation to explore environmental stewardship or the relationship of science with faith. It can be used as a sermon or discussion starter or as a responsive reading. 

Copyright Information:

Art: © 2020 by Barbara Sartorius Bjelland 
Used by permission. 
Contact: Barbara Sartorius Bjelland, 1410 Fisk Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49506

View the handout