In the Roar of Your Waterfalls - Abraham Kuyper
by Abraham Kuyper
[From: Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, James D. Bratt ed., Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998, pp.148-153. This meditation was originally
published in Kuyper's newspaper De Heraut. It was written shortly after
he returned from time spent in the Swiss Alps recovering from a breakdown.
The translator is unknown.]
"Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and
billows have swept over me." (Psalm 42:7)
God the Lord did not give us His revelation in a land of plains
but in a land with mountains. Only in these highlands does a person learn
to understand many a saying in Scripture.
David, too, roamed the mountains when he fled from Saul. There in
the mountain caves, amidst cliffs and rocks, he heard an exhausted deer
cry out for streams of water. In that cry he heard echoed the cry of his
own soul for his God.
From mountain heights the world looks majestic, elevated, divinely
great. On the plains and in the valleys man is everything. There he
builds his cities and towns and fills them with his worldly possessions.
There he accumulates his wealth, creates his pleasures, and covers the
earth with the works of his hands.
But on mountain heights the picture is very different. There man
is the creator of nothing and God alone is the majestic master craftsman.
There every peak, every cliff, every gorge is an eloquent witness to His
divine greatness. There one sees lightning and thunder clouds working in
concert, not above himself but below and all around. There God the Lord
has His eternal snow and never-melting icefields. There the only witness
of His royal splendour is the eagle and only the gemsbok [antelope]
prances before His face.
Silence, a sacred silence, fills the air over those mysterious
highlands. There the pounding of hoofbeats, the rattle of implements, the
buzz of human voices is never heard but everything lies wrapped in solemn
and divine quiet. Now and then an avalanche of snow comes thundering down
the mountainside; otherwise there reigns a holy calm. One hears only a
muffled, regular, heavenly roar, a voice of God, the roar of the
waterfalls of the Almighty.
For David, the servant of God, the voice of God in those plunging
waters was full of holy poetry: they mediated to him the sacred presence
of God. God created those waters. He caused them to roar down His
mountains. And when those waters plunged down those steep heights,
cascade upon cascade; when he heard the thunder of the falling waters in
the gorge to his left and, as if in antiphony, the thunder of the
waterfall in a gorge to his right, he felt as if God were enclosing him,
that all God's waves and billows were slamming over and around him.
God's power on those mountains became to him a revelation of His
wrath. As on those mountains, so were things in his own soul. There,
too, deep gorges yawned. There, too, the waters of the Lord came down
with a dull roar. And when in nature, full of majesty, deep called to
deep, David felt how in his own soul one abyss called to another with an
enormous groan, ever calling out to the God of his life in whom alone was
Still, it is not in the mountains but on the plains that God
provided a home for humanity. Though a person might roam on mountain
heights, he could not live there, and after years of being tested David,
too, returned to the plain of the Jordan. But the memory of his God as he
received it in God's mountains remained indelibly imprinted on his soul.
He had seen God there -- God in His majesty, God the Lord in His
omnipotence. And when on the plain thousands upon thousands mocked:
"There is no God," David would stand up against them as a witness to the
God of glory he had touched by hand on the mountains and carried down with
him in the depth of his soul.
Moses had similarly seen the Invisible One in the faces of Sinai's
cliffs. Likewise Elijah saw the majesty of the Eternal One on Mt. Horeb.
So too David carried the memory of the Unfathomable One down from God's
mountains to be a witness to the living God, first in Israel, later, by
his psalm, among a thousand generations.... Having come down from the
mountains, seeing his God also in the lives of the children of men, there
ever came to him the voice of God saying that people should worship Him,
giving Him honour and glory.
Sometimes the scene on those mountains becomes especially
impressive. The sky grows dark and the clouds stack up and the rains come
down in torrents that you never see on the plains. Everything is shrouded
in a haze. Wrapped in a somber grey one's view is entirely cut off. But
in the midst of that darkness the voice of the waters swells in power and
majesty. One no longer sees anything but instead hears all the more
dreadfully the majesty of the tumbling, roaring waters. Every trickle
becomes a river; all the streams double the power of their cataracts.
Now the thunder of God's waterfalls becomes truly gripping. In the
plunging roar on every side it sounds as if God the Lord has turned up the
volume of His majestic voice tenfold.
David carried down a memory from these awful moments for us, too.
For in our life too a fearful somberness often overcomes us. Everything
becomes dark and cloudy; the last rays of the sun sink over the mountain's
rim. It may come from suffering and misfortune. It may come from deep
anxiety and inner distress. But whatever the cause, a child of God,
listening amidst that somberness, also hears the mounting sound of the
voice of God. The Lord Himself is in that darkness. And consequently the
child of God, sitting amidst those dark clouds, does not collapse but
instead is comforted and again rises to his feet in God.
However deep may call to deep, he does not feel abandoned. Just
listen: it is the waterfalls of the Lord that roar down over him. And
above the clouds, whence the waters are poured, God still has His sun that
He keeps in readiness to pour out its rays and break those mountain mists
Indeed, above the sun the Lord is in His sanctuary, presiding
there in majesty. To that sanctuary the child of God, pouring out his
soul in trusting, childlike supplication, direct his eyes. Why are you
downcast, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Soon enough,
at the royal command of Him who sent them, those clouds will break and
disappear from His heavens without a trace.
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him. He is my
ever-present Saviour and my God!