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Psalm 104: Bless the Lord, O My Soul (Part 2) Print E-mail
Sunday, 16 February 2014

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You do not have to look too hard to see that creation cries out the glory of God.  If you have ever visited the Grand Canyon or went for a walk in the woods when Fall was coming on or took the old way to Cape in the Spring, you have beheld the glory of our Creator.  One of my favorite songs by Rich Mullins is called ďThe Color Green.Ē  He sings in the chorus: ďBe praised for all your tenderness by these works of your hands, suns that rise and moons that fall to bless to bring to life your land, look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that you have made, blue for the sky and the color green, that fills these fields with praise.Ē   That song changed the way I think on road trips.  How many fields have I driven past and marveled at Godís handiwork.  Rich was right, if you listen real close you can hear their songs of praise.

Psalm 104 is a song of praise to God for all that He has made.  It is a psalm about Godís greatness in creation.  Look at verse 1a.  The Lord is great and His creation puts that on display.  The psalmist simply marvels and wonders at all that God has made.  With David, he says to his own soul: Bless the Lord O my soul!  Bless Him for He is great.  His creation declares His praise and demands we join in the chorus.  It makes me think of Aslan singing Narnia into existence.  The psalmist goes on to list several evidences of Godís greatness.  Letís consider these together.

Godís Royal Reign (v. 1b-4)

The psalmist begins by describing Godís clothing.  Look at verses 1b-2.  The Lord dresses Himself in light.  What an interesting description.  The latest fashions in New York and Paris have nothing on the Lord.  No King has ever dressed in such splendor.  We wear clothes that quickly wear-out and He clothes Himself in light.  Next the psalmist describes His chambers and His chariot.  Look at verse 3.  The waters mentioned here are those that were suspended above the earth at creation.  They are the foundation of Godís dwelling.  If that is the foundation, imagine what the throne room looks like!  And the clouds are His chariot.  They take Him wherever He directs.  Finally, the psalmist describes His royal messengers in verse 4.  Look at that with me.  The Lord uses the winds as His messengers and fire as His ministers.  They declare the message that He gives them.  All of this describes the royal reign of God.  He is no ordinary King.  He is not like the other gods that the pagan nations worshipped.  He is the Royal King, clothed in light with His throne above the waters and the winds as His servants.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, for He is the Royal King.

Godís Cosmic Creation (v. 5-9)

The next few verses focus on the third day of creation.  First, God creates the earth and sets it upon its foundations.  Look at verse 5.  The earth is firm in its place because God made it that way.  Then He separated the waters from the land.  Look at verses 6-7. The waters obeyed Godís every command.  He told them to flee and they fled.  They dare not defy their Maker.  Then the Lord set the mountains and the valleys in their place.  Look at verses 8-9.  Notice that He had an appointed place for them all.  The Swiss Alps and the Colorado Rockies and even the Great Smokeys were given their appointed place by God.  The Lord created all of these and they all proclaim His glory and call for us to bless Him.  So bless the Lord, O my soul, for He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.

Godís Satisfying Sustenance (v. 10-18)

Some have believed that after God set everything in motion, He no longer got involved with Creation.  They view Him as a Divine Clock-worker, who simply wound the clock and let it go.  But this is not the picture that we see in this psalm.  Rather, God is actively involved in sustaining His creation.  He provides what is needed for continued survival.

What exactly does the Lord provide?  The psalmist mentions three things.  First, He provides water to drink.  Look at verses 10-13.  Bears donít have water fountains.  They donít need them.  The Lord provides for them with a mountain spring.  Glenna and I visited Greer Spring at one point and we saw how the water just bubbles out from the ground.  Of course, we can explain this with science and the Bible does not teach us to deny these facts.  No, we just know that the facts remain because God upholds them with His providence.  He gives the wild animals water to drink.  Second, He provides food to eat.  Look at verses 14-5.  The Lord feeds the cattle with grass who feed us with their milk and their meat.  The Lord has given us plants so that we might enjoy food and wine and oil.  Not only does the Lord provide for the animals, but He provides for us as well.  We should thank God before every meal because it all comes from Him.  The good food that we enjoy should cause us to glory in our God.  Third, He provides shelter.  Look at verses 16-18. 

The reference to the cedars of Lebanon is possibly there to remind us that the Lord provides wood for construction.  Likewise, the birds use these trees for homes while other animals live in the high mountains.  We see from all of this that the Lord provides everything we need for life.  He gives us water and food and shelter.  One of my commentators brings out an interesting point: ďTo the modern reader, this planet, with the almost infinite variety of life which it supports, stands out in all the more brilliant contrast to its starkly inhospitable neighbors.Ē   Not too many animals on Mars or the Moon.  But the earth is teeming with life.  It is everywhere.  This is because God created it this way.  All life on this planet declares His glory.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, for He is the Great God who created and sustains all life.  

His Appointed Times (v. 19-23)

The Lord has also created time itself.  The passing seasons are His doing.  The cold winter is followed by the warm Spring and hot Summer because that is how God created it.  Look at verse 19.  In those days, they marked the seasons by the moon and the psalmist is noting that it is God who appoints every season.  He brings them to pass.  He is also in control of every night and every day.  Look at verses 20-23.  The beasts roam about at night looking for prey.  Yet, when the sun comes up they bed down.  On the other hand, man gets up with the sun and labors until it sets.  Then the beasts return and the cycle repeats.  It is the Lord who appoints these times.  He makes the sun to rise and the sun to set.  He makes darkness and light.  Every day when we get up we should thank the Lord for giving us a new day.  Every single day is a gift from Him that He does not owe us.  This old winter can be long and wearying, but the Lord has appointed it and He will send it packing in His own good time.  And when those yellow spring flowers begin to bloom we will know that He has sent them.  He sends the snow and the rain and the flowers.  Bless Him, O my soul, for He has appointed the times.

His Wise Works (v. 24-30)

The psalmist breaks into praise in verse 24.  Look at that with me.  Again, he is not just marveling at creation for the sake of creation.  He is not a tree-hugger.  He is not worshipping the created.  Rather, he is looking at creation and marveling at how great the Creator of it all is.  He alone is to be worshipped.  He has brought forth all things in His wisdom.  In verses 25-26 he marvels at the sea.  Look at those with me.  Many a sailor has had such thoughts.  The number of animals in the sea is too numerous to count.  The reference to Leviathan is probably just a way to show that even the mysterious and fearsome animals are part of Godís creation.  He created them to play in the sea.  They are His creatures, just as the book of Job affirms (Job 41:1ff).

Once again the psalmist notes that all creatures owe their existence to God.  Look at verses 27-30.  All creatures look to God.  If they have food, they have it because He has provided it.  He gives them breath and takes it away.  Apart from Him, they have nothing.  In fact, they are created when He sends forth His Spirit.  The connection is plain: there is no life apart from God.  Everything that lives owes its existence to God.  He gives life.  Again, we can explain all of this scientifically.  We can talk about how life begins in those terms and believing in the Bible does not mean that we have to deny such scientific explanations.  But lets be honest, there are things about new life that science cannot explain.  We have learned much, but we do not know it all.  We can still say that life is miraculous.  It would not happen apart from God.  He sends forth His Spirit and life is created.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, for His wise works.

The psalmist concludes with praise to God for creation.  Look at verses 31-35.  The psalmist sings to the Lord as the Sovereign Creator of all things.  He will do this as long as he lives.  We will never run out of reasons to bless the Lord.  His creation declares his praise and we should join with it in blessing the Lord.

Yet, why does the psalmist include verse 35?  It seems out of place.  Part of the answer is that the psalmist recognizes sin for what it is: a blight on creation.  The beauty of Godís creation is marred by every sin and every sinner.  Of course, the problem with this is that I am a sinner.  What about you?  Are you a sinner?  Well, what can we do?  We want to join with the psalmist in proclaiming Godís greatness in creation, but what can we do about our sin?  The amazing good news is that God did not stop with creation.  When man fell in the garden and the creation was cursed by sin, God set forth a plan for new creation.  He called out the Israelites and prepared His people for a Savior.  Then He sent us Jesus to live a perfect life and die on a cross for our sins and rise from the dead.  The glorious good news is that through Christ we can experience new creation. 

Paul writes: For God, who said, ďLet light shine out of darkness,Ē has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  Paul describes our redemption as an act of creation.  Using the phrase of the psalmist, God sends forth His Spirit and new life is created through faith in Jesus.  So then, we bless the Lord this morning not only for creation and the glory it proclaims, but also for new creation, the redemption that we have in Christ.  If you have never turned from your sins and trusted in Jesus, then do that today.  Bless the Lord for creation and new creation.  If you are a new creature through faith in Christ, then worship like one.  Say with the psalmist: I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.  May we join with all the saints before us in blessing the Lord for His glorious creation and new creation in Christ.  Amen. 

~ William Marshall ~ 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 February 2014 )

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