Psalms 104 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
This was my favorite Psalm I always read when we went camping. We liked to camp in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. We would hear ravens, barred owls, wolves and even have moose come on our camp site. We would hear and see some animals during the day while other birds or animals only came out at night. One nighttime visitor was a pine martin who seemed to like the roof of our camper. This psalm speaks to the rhythm of the daylight animals and birds and the nighttime only animals as well as those who are both. God directs everything we see in the world.
You will notice that Psalm 103 and 104 sound and feel familiar. As Stott writes comparing the two Psalms, “Both begin and end with the words ‘Praise the Lord, O my soul.’ Psalm 103 goes on to tell of the goodness of God in salvation. Psalm 104 of the greatness of God in creation (v. 1). Psalm 103 depicts God as the father with his children, Psalm 104 as the Creator with His creatures. Psalm 103 catalogues His benefits (v. 2), Psalm 104 His works (vs. 13, 24, 31) (John R. W. Stott. Favorite Psalms p. 98).
This song may be called an “old song” since this song is about creation. The “new song” concerns salvation. The term “new song” occurs in Ps 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1. In Rev 5:9, the new song is about salvation (W. Robert Godfrey Learning to Love the Psalms, p. 185). The Psalm may be divided up as follows: 1-4; 5-9; 10-18; 19-26; 27-30; 31-35. John Stott proposes an easier outline to work with
1-9 God’s creation of heaven and earth
10-23 God’s provision for birds and beasts
24-30 God’s creation and preservation
God often reminds His people what a great accomplishment the creation of the heavens and the earth are. God deserves eternal praise for creation. Creation is a constant theme throughout the Bible as we see in v 3, 5-9. In verse five, when the psalmist writes, “He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved” we are not to imagine that God literally sets the earth on a foundation. God not only creates out of nothing, but He maintains and appoints the plan for mountains and valleys.
The psalmist continues his praise for creation reflecting on the animals and birds. I love how places that seem to us almost uninhabitable are suited for wild goats and rock badgers in v. 18. God causes springs to water valleys that allow animals to quench their thirst. God causes grass to grow for livestock in v. 14. Everything and every place has a purpose. We see the rhythm of those animals active at night and seek their dens as the sun rises. And that is when humans go out to work. Of course, we now have hospitals, manufacturing plants, drivers, etc. that work through the night, but the norm is what is stated here. We are in awe of how God sustains all the animals, birds, as well as how they interact with us.
In vs. 24-30, the author is exuberant over God and His creation. The author is animated in His praise for the world he sees in v. 24. Verse 27ff shows why creation rules out evolution if evolution excludes Divine creation. Nor is God distant in the created universe but He sustains it and upholds it. Col 1:16ff reminds us, “For by him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things and in him all things hold together.”
I hope you also enjoy the conclusion of this psalm. The psalm begins and ends the same way. The psalmist appears to be lost in the manifold works of God. The author implores whoever will listen, “May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works. . . . I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.” It’s almost like the author can’t help himself. He is so lost in wonder and adoration.
Does v. 35 seem like a jolt out of the blue to you? Did he lose you with his sharp right turn? Well, maybe you are not following the author. God is a great king who has clearly given the law. He richly deserves to be loved and obeyed. Everyone on earth should worship Him for He alone is clothed with splendor and majesty. Yet, many are opposed to His law. They hate His law, and they hate Him. Their active rebellion is treasonous. One cannot love God, His kingdom, His law, His eternal splendor and be indifferent to traitors, rebels, and the proud and arrogant who reject God. We know our world would be better if the world would be full of those who truly love God and submit to his lifegiving, freeing, and gracious laws. So, we do want sinners to be consumed and our prayer is that the wicked be no more. How can we be indifferent to such rebels?
Dear Father, we marvel at how You have created the galaxies. You care about donkey, badgers, birds, and cedars. You love the fact that we travel to sites just to see majestic mountains and we take pictures of valleys, elk, trees, and rivers. You want us to rejoice in sunrises and sunsets, wintry snowstorms and warm summer nights. Yet, You are angry at the wicked because they are not doing what they were created to do: live for Your glory. While we would never, never take matters in our own hands, we desire Your justice on those who oppose You.
How can we ever thank you enough for Your grace in our salvation. I suppose the answer is no one can thank You enough. We will spend a happy eternity, joyfully learning, singing, talking, listening, and enjoying every second (so to speak) with You and others in our true spiritual family. We know that “the glory of the Lord (will) endure forever!” How happy that makes us to just think of You. We are eager to be at home in Your presence. In Christ’s name. Amen.