all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:7-8)
Just over the east fence of my property, you run onto the Herald-Ferguson Conservation Area, a chunk of former farmland set aside for hunting and outdoor pursuits. Over the past decades, the Missouri Department of Conservation has done extremely good work in protecting the state’s wildlife. Under their watchful eyes, turkey and deer populations have expanded dramatically. Streams have been cleaned up. Invasive plants have been pursued aggressively. Streams and lakes have been stocked with all manner of fish. These people have taken seriously the responsibility of protecting the natural places of the state.
On my side of that east fence, you’ll not be allowed to hunt unless you ask me very politely. Although no state tax dollars go into the effort, similar efforts happen over here, efforts aimed at protecting the wild places that God allows to break out here. You see, it’s obvious to us that the flocks and herds mentioned in verse 7 belong under our supervision. But the wild animals?
The wild things–animals, plants, and so forth–don’t provide us with bacon and flour and eggs and hot wings. They don’t conveniently remain in our pastures or eat predictably from the feeders we set out for them. They don’t conveniently produce marketable amounts of fruit or grain with minimal attention. These wild things really don’t cooperate very well at all.
David looks beyond this troublesome fact and recognizes that humanity’s rule over all created things extends beyond the obviously useful things. As it turns out, those apparently useless things often prove quite useful. If nothing else, they provide us the glimpse of the creation that we don’t receive when we see a herd of cattle or a corn field. They give us a thousand metaphors for spiritual truths.
As I walk along that fence between my woods and the state’s, I’m pleased with the fact that they look very similar. I’ll try my best to act like a proper ruler over these woods into the future. Now if I could just expand that attention to all other aspects of my life.