What a splendid psalm showcasing God’s magnificent work in creation. It is rich with imagery and highlights God’s pervasive power and invasive care over the work of his hands.
A devotion of Psalm 104
1Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty,
2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.
Honor, hod, means splendor, majesty, vigour, excellence, and beauty. It speaks of imposing form and appearance. God is in your face and in your business with his grandeur. Majesty, hadar, means to swell up with glory, favor, highness, and pride. And these are just his garments! Mostexpensivehub.com says that, “through the quality of fabric … personality and class [of the elite] get expressed.”
Image of mulberry silk
If God’s clothing is so amazing, how much more so is he? Celebrities wear Vicuna wool, mulberry silk, and leopard fur. My God wears hod and hadar. This is the God I am commanding my soul to bow down to. He is very great!
3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, who makes the clouds His chariot, who walks on the wings of the wind,
4 Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.
Upper chambers speak of private quarters. While God is actively involved in creation, he is very separate from it. That is what holiness means. He is so separate and so different from all else that there is just nothing else like him. What exhilaration and elation surrounds him. He is a whirlwind of delight. Who else gets to be a Cloud Rider? Who else walks on the wings of the wind? There is almost a flair of playfulness too. Can you see him teeter-tottering on the wings of the wind? To make his angels spirits is to gift and animate them with his breath, ruach. His ministers, Sharath, are servants or wait staff. They attend to him as a menial or worshipper.
5 You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever,
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At Your rebuke they fled; at the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.
8 They went up over the mountains; they went down into the valleys, to the place which You founded for them.
9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over, that they may not return to cover the earth.
David here describes the seas and the boundaries that God set for them. They are like a trained dog that only goes so far and instantly stops.
10 He sends the springs into the valleys; they flow among the hills.
11 They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 By them the birds of the heavens have their home; they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.
Even the springs are like servants. At parties, my friend Laura loves to walk around with a jug of water and fill people’s glasses. The streams pictured here meander and happily fill up drinking glasses and troughs as needed. Service with a smile. As a result, exuberant life teems all around bearing succulent fruit for our bodies and our souls.
14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth,
15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.
Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. (1 Cor. 6:7.) In his grace and providence, he gives man the raw materials needed to keep us busy and productive. We get to partake in the miracle of planting a seed and sowing fruit. Think of a tiny tomato seed. You get to stick that in the dirt he made. He provides water for it. A little green thing sprouts out of the darkness. Flowers bloom and attract glorious bees to it. Gorgeous, succulent fruit emerges. That is miraculous indeed!
He gives us the intellect to use the raw materials to meet our needs. And he gives us a spirit of gratitude to see his hand in every single detail so we can tell our souls to bless and praise him. Upon hard work, we get to relish the fruit of our labor with a sparkling glass of wine, luxurious oils, and sumptuous bread. He cares that our hearts are glad. He cares that our faces shine. He cares that our hearts are strengthened!
16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
17 Where the birds make their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high hills are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.
Verdant bounty is whisked up by the wind and balances on its wings to the lofty world of cedars and firs. No parched groves here, they are so full of life of life that it oozes out in sticky goodness. How many are the wild forests he planted all over the world. How mysteriously fabulous is that thought? In the precarious embankments and mountainsides he sowed life that persists to this day from the Tongass of North America, to the mangroves of the Sundarbans in Asia; from the Daintree tropical rainforest of Australia to the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest of South America.
Life there exists in words we have never heard:
Quetzals and basilisks, crested drongos
Pudú (you have GOT TO check this one out!!) and Kodkod,
Our God is very great indeed!