A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 309: Sunday God Quote (and Art) – The Peaceable Kingdom

peaceable kingdom

John August Swanson, The Peaceable Kingdom, Serigraph Print

“They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.”

Normally on Sundays for 2017 I’ve reserved this space for creative quotes or poems or lyrics of a spiritual nature. For this Sunday I wanted to share the art of John August Swanson and the Bible passage that inspired it.

My wife and I used to live in West Michigan in the city of Grand Rapids. Early in our marriage she worked at an art gallery that featured the art of Swanson. His lively, explosively colorful, “Naive Art” prints are unforgettable and often involve Biblical themes. We happen to have a couple of his prints (or, at least, posters of his prints!) framed and hanging up on our walls. The one above, “The Peaceable Kingdom”, dominates our dining room. The artwork references a passage from the prophet Isaiah, giving a beautiful image of a new earth of peace, ushered in by “the shoot that will come up from the stump of Jesse” , i.e. someone from the line of King David, a prophecy Christians believe refers to Jesus Christ.

The passage includes the wonderful picture of playful paradoxes: the cow and the bear eating together, the leopard lying down with the goat, the lion eating straw like an ox, all being led by a little child.

Here is the passage from Isaiah 11 from the New International Version translation. This image has come to be called “The Peaceable Kingdom”:

The Branch From Jesse

11 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling  together;
    and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.