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Psalm 104

God the Creator and Provider

1

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

O Lord my God, you are very great.

You are clothed with honor and majesty,

2

wrapped in light as with a garment.

You stretch out the heavens like a tent,

3

you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,

you make the clouds your chariot,

you ride on the wings of the wind,

4

you make the winds your messengers,

fire and flame your ministers.

 

5

You set the earth on its foundations,

so that it shall never be shaken.

6

You cover it with the deep as with a garment;

the waters stood above the mountains.

7

At your rebuke they flee;

at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.

8

They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys

to the place that you appointed for them.

9

You set a boundary that they may not pass,

so that they might not again cover the earth.

 

10

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;

they flow between the hills,

11

giving drink to every wild animal;

the wild asses quench their thirst.

12

By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation;

they sing among the branches.

13

From your lofty abode you water the mountains;

the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

 

14

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,

and plants for people to use,

to bring forth food from the earth,

15

and wine to gladden the human heart,

oil to make the face shine,

and bread to strengthen the human heart.

16

The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,

the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

17

In them the birds build their nests;

the stork has its home in the fir trees.

18

The high mountains are for the wild goats;

the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.

19

You have made the moon to mark the seasons;

the sun knows its time for setting.

20

You make darkness, and it is night,

when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.

21

The young lions roar for their prey,

seeking their food from God.

22

When the sun rises, they withdraw

and lie down in their dens.

23

People go out to their work

and to their labor until the evening.

 

24

O Lord, how manifold are your works!

In wisdom you have made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

25

Yonder is the sea, great and wide,

creeping things innumerable are there,

living things both small and great.

26

There go the ships,

and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

 

27

These all look to you

to give them their food in due season;

28

when you give to them, they gather it up;

when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

29

When you hide your face, they are dismayed;

when you take away their breath, they die

and return to their dust.

30

When you send forth your spirit, they are created;

and you renew the face of the ground.

 

31

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;

may the Lord rejoice in his works—

32

who looks on the earth and it trembles,

who touches the mountains and they smoke.

33

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;

I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

34

May my meditation be pleasing to him,

for I rejoice in the Lord.

35

Let sinners be consumed from the earth,

and let the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Praise the Lord!


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Ps 104:1-35. The Psalmist celebrates God's glory in His works of creation and providence, teaching the dependence of all living creatures; and contrasting the happiness of those who praise Him with the awful end of the wicked.

1. God's essential glory, and also that displayed by His mighty works, afford ground for praise.

2. light—is a figurative representation of the glory of the invisible God (Mt 17:2; 1Ti 6:16). Its use in this connection may refer to the first work of creation (Ge 1:3).

stretchest out the heavens—the visible heavens or sky which cover the earth as a curtain (Isa 40:12).

3. in the waters—or, it may be "with"; using this fluid for the beams, or frames, of His residence accords with the figure of clouds for chariots, and wind as a means of conveyance.

walketh—or, "moveth" (compare Ps 18:10, 11; Am 9:6).

4. This is quoted by Paul (Heb 1:7) to denote the subordinate position of angels; that is, they are only messengers as other and material agencies.

spirits—literally, "winds."

flaming fire—(Ps 105:32) being here so called.

5. The earth is firmly fixed by His power.

6-9. These verses rather describe the wonders of the flood than the creation (Ge 7:19, 20; 2Pe 3:5, 6). God's method of arresting the flood and making its waters subside is poetically called a "rebuke" (Ps 76:6; Isa 50:2), and the process of the flood's subsiding by undulations among the hills and valleys is vividly described.

10-13. Once destructive, these waters are subjected to the service of God's creatures. In rain and dew from His chambers (compare Ps 104:3), and fountains and streams, they give drink to thirsting animals and fertilize the soil. Trees thus nourished supply homes to singing birds, and the earth teems with the productions of God's wise agencies,

14, 15. so that men and beasts are abundantly provided with food.

for the service—literally, "for the culture," &c., by which he secures the results.

oil … shine—literally, "makes his face to shine more than oil," that is, so cheers and invigorates him, that outwardly he appears better than if anointed.

strengtheneth … heart—gives vigor to man (compare Jud 19:5).

16-19. God's care of even wild animals and uncultivated parts of the earth.

20-23. He provides and adapts to man's wants the appointed times and seasons.

24-26. From a view of the earth thus full of God's blessings, the writer passes to the sea, which, in its immensity, and as a scene and means of man's activity in commerce, and the home of countless multitudes of creatures, also displays divine power and beneficence. The mention of

26. leviathan—(Job 40:20) heightens the estimate of the sea's greatness, and of His power who gives such a place for sport to one of His creatures.

27-30. The entire dependence of this immense family on God is set forth. With Him, to kill or make alive is equally easy. To hide His face is to withdraw favor (Ps 13:1). By His spirit, or breath, or mere word, He gives life. It is His constant providence which repairs the wastes of time and disease.

31-34. While God could equally glorify His power in destruction, that He does it in preservation is of His rich goodness and mercy, so that we may well spend our lives in grateful praise, honoring to Him, and delightful to pious hearts (Ps 147:1).

35. Those who refuse such a protector and withhold such a service mar the beauty of His works, and must perish from His presence.

Praise ye the Lord—The Psalm closes with an invocation of praise, the translation of a Hebrew phrase, which is used as an English word, "Hallelujah," and may have served the purpose of a chorus, as often in our psalmody, or to give fuller expression to the writer's emotions. It is peculiar to Psalms composed after the captivity, as "Selah" is to those of an earlier date.

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