Weds 17 November - Psalm 104
1 Praise the Lord, my soul.
Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendour and majesty.
2 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
4 He makes winds his messengers,[a]
flames of fire his servants.
5 He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.
6 You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
8 they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
9 You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth.
10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate –
bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.
19 He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
21 The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.
22 The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
23 Then people go out to their work,
to their labour until evening.
24 How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number –
living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
27 All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure for ever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works –
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Praise the Lord.
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Meditation on Psalm 104
Just before one half term break when I was teaching in Croydon, I was showing the pupils a filmstrip (that dates me!) of optical instruments – magnifying glass, microscope, telescope, camera, human eye. There are many more that we could add to today’s list but in this particular lesson the ‘many more’ were awaiting being invented.
We were going along nicely when I put up a picture of the human eye. Spiros, a likeable rogue, suddenly said, “’ere sir, who made that?”
I tried to divert Spiros’ question – which came several times in a row – by telling him to be quiet so that I could finish the lesson. No way was that going to happen as, in almost exasperation, he called out, “no sir, I want to know who made that, because it’s brilliant!”
So slow was I to grasp his pleadings and thinking this was the last lesson before half term, I decided to go along with him. We then had 45 minutes talking about creation. Wow! All from a picture of the human eye and a persistent pupil. What a great opportunity.
As we come to Psalm 104 it’s one of those, “’ere sir, who made that…it’s brilliant!”
Many of the Psalms have given rise to some great hymns being written. Psalm 103 gave rise to ‘Praise, my soul, the king of Heaven.’
Psalm 104 is the basis for ‘O worship the King, all glorious above.’ Read through these two Psalms and their linked hymns. (You can sing the two hymns if that helps.)
Both these Psalms begin with the challenge to ‘Praise the LORD, o’er my soul.’
As we work through this creation Psalm, it becomes clear why we should praise the LORD.
As with the hymn, so with the Psalm, the writers take us through the Creation of the heavens and the earth.
Verse 1 tells us who God is.
- very great
- clothed with splendour
Does this remind you of the hymn, ‘How great Thou art’?
Verse 2a reminds us of the first day of creation when God said “Let there be light.”
Do these opening statements remind you of another hymn – ‘How great is our God’?
The splendour of a King, clothed in majesty…
He wraps himself in light and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice, trembles at His voice
How great is our God, sing with me
Verses 2b-4 reminds us of the second day.
Verses 5-18 is the longest section of the Psalm and reminds us of the third day.
Verses 19-23 remind us of the fourth day.
Verse 24 stops as if the psalmist is wanting to draw breath and focus, not on the creation but on the Creator. ‘How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.’
Verses 25-26 remind us of the fifth day and indicates that God is taking pleasure in all that He is creating. The Leviathan mentioned in Job is a monster of the deep but here this ‘monster’ is frolicking in the sea.
What about people? Where is the link between this Psalm and the creation account in Genesis?
Verses 14 and 23 gives us a clue as the NIV refers to ‘people’.
Verses 27-30 is a summary of all that God has been doing and is still doing, in spite of the sins of the people and the way we have treated His creation.
No wonder the Psalmist draws to a conclusion with a prayer in verses 31-32.
No wonder the Psalmist closes with a statement as to what will survive and what will vanish.
The people of God will sing the praises of God for ever whilst the unrepentant sinner will experience the wrath of God and as a result of divine judgment will vanish.
Let’s bring this great Psalm of praise into the New Testament.
Romans 1:20 ‘For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.’
As the hymn writer puts it:
‘Frail children of dust and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend.’
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