Last Saturday morning around 4:00 a.m., lightning struck near a clump of trees in Missouri where several dairy cows were huddled to escape the rain. Later that morning the dairyman who owned the cows, Jared Blackwelder, discovered 32 of the cows were killed by the strike. He was heart-broken. Jared had raised the “certified organic” cows from birth and milked them two times a day to provide a living for his family.
I used to minister in a dairy community and am well aware of the affection farmers have for their cows. As I thought about how Jared Blackwelder must feel my mind turned to a passage in the Bible I fear I may have misunderstood, to a degree.
In Psalm 50:10, God speaks through the psalmist when he declares the “cattle on a thousand hills” are His. I have always considered this a statement of God’s “Lordship” when it comes to the things we place value on in life. The context of Psalm 50 is the Jewish sacrificial system. The main point is that God isn’t looking for sacrifices. Yes, He asks us to sacrifice. He even commands us to sacrifice! But what He really wants is our worship.
Where do the cattle come in? God wants us to know He doesn’t need our physical sacrifices. After all, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Human ownership is irrelevant to Him, and if He needed a cow He could take one. Maybe He has! Maybe that’s what those UFO accounts are all about where farmers see lights in the sky and find the carcasses of dead animals the next day!
Hopefully, you get God’s point.
So where have I gone astray in my interpretation of this passage? I now suspect I have not considered God’s investment in His cattle. How many cattle do you suppose there are on a “thousand hills?” Before the strike Jared Blackwelder owned 152 cows on his hill. A thousand Jared’s would own 152,000 cows. The idea, however, is that God owns every cow on every hill.
And He knows them.
That’s right. In the same passage in Psalm 50 God says He “knows” every bird, and every creature in the field is His. Does God have names for every cow? Does He call out for them?
But maaaaaaaaybeeeeeee so.
All I am saying is we shouldn’t look at the cattle on a thousand hills that belong to God as things. They mean something to God.
Then why did 32 cows in Missouri die from an “act of God?”
Cut me some slack here. And besides – that’s a term used by insurance companies – not God.
Just have a little more respect for the cattle and try to see them through the eyes of the dairyman. I suspect his view of their place is creation is closer to that of God’s.
And if God cares for a single cow on a single hill among thousands…
…how much do you think He cares for you?