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A Publication of
Catholic Concern for Animals


Selections From The Ark Number  205 - Spring 2007

Psalms for Life:
hearing and praying the book of psalms

by John Eaton
London: SPCK, 2006, ISBN 028105844X, £14.99.

READERS WHO CAME to the ecumenical animal welfare retreat in Chester in 2004 will remember the kindly, scholarly gentleman who led it, with his wife, so gently and prayerfully. John’s work has also appeared several times in The Ark. So it was with great pleasure that I received his new book on the psalms, written in that familiar reflective style. Each psalm in turn is given the ‘John’ treatment – introduced by an anecdote or real life example, translated from the Hebrew and explained patiently and in depth – as if he were in the same room talking to you – and concluded with a prayer. His sympathy with animals and appreciation of the natural world shines through, and he never misses the opportunity to bring out those features in the many psalms in which they appear.

   One example is an extract from his Psalm 36: ‘The Saviour of humans and animals alike’.

Lord, your steadfast love is high as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Your goodness is like the towering mountains,
your justice like the great deep;
humankind and animals alike, LORD, you will save.

It is a wonderful picture – the world in perfection; one great household, God’s house, in a landscape of pure river and mountains that reach to the clouds. To drink of the river is to delight in God’s gift of life. To behold the mountains is to wonder at the surpassing greatness of his goodness, his love, his faithfulness. The whole human family is as one, gathered together under the shelter of the wings of God. But all the animals are there too, for he is their Saviour also. For all his creatures his household is a place of peace. The river of life is fed from a fountain that springs in the presence of the Lord. The light of life that blesses the eyes of his creatures is the outshining of the light of God.

It is indeed an inspired glimpse of an ideal world around its creator. It is a vision of something yet to be, yet even now revealing the present love and faithfulness of God. …

Useful for private study, these reflections could also be used in groups. This would be a delightful use of that book-token you received at Christmas!


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