October 01, 2023

The Deep

Genesis 1:1-2; 2 Peter 3:5

The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

—  Genesis 1:2

Do you notice anything curious in the first verses of the Bible?

I have read these verses many times in my life, and just recently I wondered: Where did these waters come from? Well, God must have created these waters at some point, but we are not told that part of the story. We must be reading a poetic narrative that has been in progress for some time before we join with it.

The NIV translation of verse 2 says that the “Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The Hebrew word for “Spirit” is ruach, and that word can also be translated as “wind” or “breath.” So some translations say that the “wind of God” hovered (or moved) over the waters. Either way, we can begin to imagine God’s person and power moving over these deep waters. In another passage the Hebrew word rahap for “hover” describes the Lord as a great eagle brooding, hovering over its beloved hatchlings as they leave the nest and learn to fly (Deuteronomy 32:11).

So in the first verses of Genesis we see God moving powerfully and lovingly over his yet unformed world of water. Now, here is another question, to which we will return: Do you know of any other stories in the Bible that mention water, wind (or Spirit), and perhaps a bird?

Creator God, may your Spirit hover within us, over us, and throughout your world as you bring all that is dark and chaotic into your peaceful light. Amen.

About the author — Kristopher Walhof

Kristopher Walhof is a minister in the Christian Reformed Church who lives with his wife and seven-year-old son in rural Kenya. He teaches Bible and theology courses to theological students seeking ordination in the Africa Inland Church (AIC) denomination.

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