Observe This Psalm cries out, Praise the Lord, O my soul, explodes in recognition of God’s splendour (O Lord my God, You are very great (1)) and becomes a meditation on His marvellous creation, extolling God for His natural world. Images of God and His works are summed up in each stanza:
He is clothed with splendour and majesty, wearing a magnificent garment of light as He exercises His imagination and creativity in the firmament. He is master of the angels (his messengers), ref. Heb. 1:7;
He sets boundaries for land and sea, separating dry land from the waters (one of many references to water throughout the Bible), making shorelines so there would be no more earth-covering floods (Gen 7-9);
He provides water for his land creatures and enhances the beauty of the earth;
He provides food and shelter for his land creatures, giving his humans more than mere necessity, but also enjoyment – wine, oil, bread. And the homes for His animals are just where they need to be.
He governs day and night, the rhythms that allow for work, play and rest;
He delights in his sea creatures, (the fifth day of creation), numberless in their variety and size; a whale playing is a sight to behold, and God loves it!
All his creatures look to Him for their needs – their food, their breath (to give and to take), and His Spirit to renew and regenerate. He is a generous God.
The last stanza takes up the cry of joy in the first stanza; it’s full of His glory, His delight in what He has made. What else can the psalmist do but rejoice in Him, sing praise, lift up his heart in thanks. The only downer in the Psalm is verse 10a, the hardness of sinners opposing God’s good work, but in His time, they will be gone. The poet again looks up and cries out, Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!
Interpret The psalm recalls the Creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:13, though not in the order of the first book of the Torah. Even more so, we see God as the One who nurtures, cares for, delights in what He made – “He saw that it was good.”
The gorgeous metaphors of clothing made of light, setting the foundations of the earth, satisfying the earth with His fruit, wine to gladden and oil to make radiant, filling our open hands with His goodness and abundance, His mere touch making mountains smoke – aren’t these images of our great God potent, lifegiving -- enjoyable? This is a very happy Psalm!
Apply The sheer exuberance of this Psalm reminds us of what Creation was about – the praise and worship and glory of God. It might also nudge us to think about how we regard God’s creation, as we ever so slowly come to realize we have to take care of this small space we are placed in. We too are Imago Dei – the image of God. This we must remember as we look up and around at His splendour, so often obscured by bad news based in human pride, greed, aggression. We determine to reflect His image and light to others who as yet don’t know Him. They’ll notice.
Ask Would You clothe me and fill me with Your light, to identify with You, my Creator-Lord, to care for what You have made, to care for others? Would you help me daily to cry out, Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Pray Yours is the greatness, and the power, and the glory – forever and ever! Yes, yes, yes!
Sing Psalm 104
Sandra McCracken - All Your Works are Good
MercyMe - Psalm 104
Psalms Project Africa - Psalm 104
Mike Janzen - Alleluia
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.