May 9: Psalm 104

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May 9: Psalm 104

The glory of God’s creation and God’s providential care of it

10.10.11.11                               Lyons (O worship the King)
Hanover (Ye Servants of God)

My soul, bless the Lord! Lord God, You are great!

With honor arrayed, majestic in state,

You cover Yourself with a garment of light

And stretch out the sky as a curtain by night.

The beams of Your courts in waters You laid;

On wings of the wind Your pathway You made.

The clouds are Your chariot; the winds do Your will;

The flames and the lightnings Your pleasure fulfill.

You set up the earth on foundations sure,

That always it should unshaken endure.

The deep like a garment about it You cast;

The waters stood high; over mountains they passed.

But at Your rebuke the high waters fled;

Your thunder they heard and fast away sped.

The mountains arose, and the valleys sank low;

The place You appointed for them now they know.

To hold waters fast You set up their bound,

Lest turning again they cover the ground.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys below

And cause rushing streams between mountains to flow.

The beast of the field they furnish with drink;

The wild donkeys quench their thirst on the brink.

The birds make their nests in the trees by the spring;

And there in the branches they joyfully sing.

You water the hills with rain from Your sky,

With fruit of Your works the earth satisfy.

To nourish the cattle, You cause grass to grow;

For creatures who serve man the plants You bestow.

So man brings forth food by working the earth;

And wine that he grows his heart fills with mirth;

To make his face shine he extracts fragrant oil

And finds bread that strengthens his heart for his toil.

The trees of the Lord are all watered well;

Great cedars high up on Lebanon dwell.

There birds build their nests; the stork makes first its home.

On high rocks the badgers and goats safely roam.

The moon You have set the seasons to show;

The sun will its time for each setting know.

When You make the darkness, the night follows day,

And beasts of the forest creep forth seeking prey.

The young lions roar, from God begging meat,

But at the sunrise they quickly retreat,

And deep in their dens all day hide from the light,

While man works and labors abroad till the night.

How many works, Lord, in wisdom You’ve made!

How full on the earth, Your riches displayed!

Out yonder the ocean, how great and how wide,

Where small and great creatures unnumbered abide!

Where ships sail the deep, Leviathans play;

These all look to You to give food each day.

Whatever You give them they gather for food;

When Your hand You open You fill them with good.

When You hide Your face, bewildered they yearn.

When You take their breath, to dust they return.

When You send Your spirit, created are they.

The face of the ground you renew every day.

Forever O may the Lord’s glory stand!

The Lord shall enjoy each work of His hand.

He looks on the earth and it trembles in fear;

When He touches mountains, the smoke will appear.

I’ll sing to the Lord as long as I live,

Sing praise to my God while life He will give.

My thoughts about Him will sweet pleasure afford.

For I am rejoicing each day in the Lord.

Consumed from the earth let sinners then be;

The wicked in life no more let us see

And now, O my soul, blessing give to the Lord.

Let glad hallelujahs ring; O praise the Lord!

Psalm 104 is one of those psalms whose poetic flow has made it a favorite, and it is no surprise that the Church has long tended to pray it daily. The psalmist meditates on the various “days” of creation, starting with the vast expanse of the heavens, then the ministry of the angels, then the earth and its myriad phenomena, the various plants and diverse animals, from sparrows and rabbits to deer and lions, always with an emphasis on God’s generous provision for the needs of all. Psalm 104 combines consideration of the natural order with those of human commerce, suggestion a “cooperation” between God’s work and ours. This perspective is true with regard to both the land and the sea. Toward the end our psalm speaks of God’s Holy Spirit at work in the world: “You will send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created, and You will renew the face of the earth.” (Reardon, p. 205-206)

This is a glorious celebration of God’s creation; only the final verse gives a clue that this is not yet a finished portrayal of the glorious New Creation, for there are still sinners and wicked, those in willful rebellion, to be “consumed from the earth.” Only without the presence of sin will we dwell in a New Creation that is more glorious than any words can describe.

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