God's majesty in the heavens, The creation of the sea, and the dry land. (1-9) His provision for all creatures. (10-18) The regular course of day and night, and God's sovereign power over all the creatures. (19-30) A resolution to continue praising God. (31-35)
Verses 1-9 Every object we behold calls on us to bless and praise the Lord, who is great. His eternal power and Godhead are clearly shown by the things which he hath made. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. The Lord Jesus, the Son of his love, is the Light of the world.
Verses 10-18 When we reflect upon the provision made for all creatures, we should also notice the natural worship they render to God. Yet man, forgetful ungrateful man, enjoys the largest measure of his Creator's kindness. the earth, varying in different lands. Nor let us forget spiritual blessings; the fruitfulness of the church through grace, the bread of everlasting life, the cup of salvation, and the oil of gladness. Does God provide for the inferior creatures, and will he not be a refuge to his people?
Verses 19-30 We are to praise and magnify God for the constant succession of day and night. And see how those are like to the wild beasts, who wait for the twilight, and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Does God listen to the language of mere nature, even in ravenous creatures, and shall he not much more interpret favourably the language of grace in his own people, though weak and broken groanings which cannot be uttered? There is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, which man must apply to every morning, and which he must continue in till evening; it will be time enough to rest when the night comes, in which no man can work. The psalmist wonders at the works of God. The works of art, the more closely they are looked upon, the more rough they appear; the works of nature appear more fine and exact. They are all made in wisdom, for they all answer the end they were designed to serve. Every spring is an emblem of the resurrection, when a new world rises, as it were, out of the ruins of the old one. But man alone lives beyond death. When the Lord takes away his breath, his soul enters on another state, and his body will be raised, either to glory or to misery. May the Lord send forth his Spirit, and new-create our souls to holiness.
Verses 31-35 Man's glory is fading; God's glory is everlasting: creatures change, but with the Creator there is no variableness. And if mediation on the glories of creation be so sweet to the soul, what greater glory appears to the enlightened mind, when contemplating the great work of redemption! There alone can a sinner perceive ground of confidence and joy in God. While he with pleasure upholds all, governs all, and rejoices in all his works, let our souls, touched by his grace, meditate on and praise him.
Psalms 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 ( Matthew 17:2 , 1 Timothy 6:16 ). Its use in this connection may refer to the first work of creation ( Genesis 1:3 ).
stretchest out the heavens--the visible heavens or sky which cover the earth as a curtain ( Isaiah 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 Psalms 18:10 Psalms 18:11 , Amos 9:6 ).
4. This is quoted by Paul ( Hebrews 1:7 ) to denote the subordinate position of angels; that is, they are only messengers as other and material agencies.
flaming fire--( Psalms 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 ( Genesis 7:19 Genesis 7:20 , 2 Peter 3:5 2 Peter 3:6 ). God's method of arresting the flood and making its waters subside is poetically called a "rebuke" ( Psalms 76:6 , Isaiah 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 Psalms 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 Judges 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 ( Psalms 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 ( Psalms 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.