PSALM 104 TALK: PRAISE OF THE CREATED

PSALM 104 TALK: PRAISE OF THE CREATED

 (A Psalm that calls us to praise God for his wonderful creation and to join that creation that speaks a wordless praise of how great and glorious is its creator.)

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INTRODUCTION

 In 1971 I stood one evening on a beautiful moon lit night on a beach called seven mile beach which is on the south coast of New South Wales in my home state in Australia. As I stood on that beach I saw in the sand the tiny footprints of children who had obviously frolicked on that golden shore- line during the day. We had taken the children who were on a camp I was helping to lead down on that beach that morning before they had lunch and returned home after being on a camp for a week.

It was the first night we did not have to look after the children on the camp and the leadership team and I were having a break as in two days time another group of children was arriving to have their week of holidays by the beach with us. The first week’s camp had been a great success because the children had had a wonderful time and many of them came to the Lord through the presentation of the Gospel that week.

As I stared at those tiny footprints I immediately started to pray thanking God for his beautiful creation that beach represented and also thanking him that he had made himself known first through his Son Jesus Christ and then through us to the children on that fantastic camp we had just run.

By the time I and my fellow leaders had made it back to the campsite cabins I had the inspiration for a poem which years later became a song called, “Children of the Bay”, the words of the song go like this,

The summer wind is blowing it howls and calls for day.

Waves reach crashing forward as they pound upon the bay.

A seagull fly’s the heavens as the palm trees gently sway.

The wind drops with the morning and the children come to play.

 

Refrain:

Yes the children come to play

The children of the bay

The wind drops with the morning

As the children come to play

 

There’s seven thousand horses pounding down upon the bay.

The sun now fills the morning with her warm and golden ray.

The white caps playing, dancing on top of waves to and fro.

The silence of the morning is broken by a shrill

And I see the Children playing by the shore.

 

Refrain:

Yes the children play by the seashore

The children of the bay

The silence it is broken

As the children now do play

The sun now softly whispers this is the close of day.

The silhouetted headlands reach out like arms to pray.

And in the silence of the evening I see the giant spider sun.

The waves crash on the seashore as the children move away.

 

Refrain:

Yes the children move away

The children of the bay

The waves crash on the seashore

As the children move away

 

In the peace of the evening the moon sends down its ray.

And nature rests so quiet as the waves break on the bay.

And in that hour of darkness I stop to bow and pray.

As I see the tiny footprints where the children came to play

 

Refrain:

Yes I see the tiny footprints

Where children came to play

And in that hour of darkness

I stop and bow and pray

Where the children came to play

The children of the bay.

Even though the children that day had left just after lunch on many days during the week of the camp they did not go back to the campsite until early evening for dinner and a evening program, bed side devotions, prayer and sleep.

My poem, “Children of the Bay” became the first of many poems over the next twenty years or so that capture some aspect of nature leading me to pray and sometimes even the natural world itself speaks powerfully of the God who made it. I called these poems, “Prayers of the Created” and the scripture backing for them is Psalm 19 verse 1,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

 Psalm 104 is a very special prayer as it is a praise for the glorious God of creation who is praised for his wonderful work of creating this world and the universe and not only creating it but also sustaining it by the same power and glory he created it by. Therefore I have entitled this Psalm talk, “Praise of the Created”.

We simply don’t know who and when this Psalm was written, some have suggested David as he wrote the Psalm before it, Psalm 103 and that starts and finishes with the same words as Psalm 104 starts and finishes with namely,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul”

 Psalm 103 also finishes as Psalm 104 starts namely praising God for his creation, Psalm 103: 22,

“Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his domain, Praise the Lord, O my soul”.

 If David wrote Psalm 104, like he did Psalm 103 I wonder why the Hebrew editors did not tell us this at the top of the Psalm like they did at the start of Psalm 103?

This Psalm was placed in the fourth book of Psalms probably during the early years of the return from exile so the image of God being the great cosmic king of the universe in the opening verses of the Psalm would have been a great encouragement for the renewed tiny nation of Israel as they returned from 70 long years of exile under the powerful kings of at first Babylon and now Persia.

The writer of this Psalm seems to use a variety of bible and non – bible sources for his poetic images in his composition. The bible resources include Genesis 1, Job 38 and Proverbs 8: 22 – 31. I will make reference to these uses of the bible references in his poetic images when they appear in Psalm 104. However the greatest influence on the writer of Psalm 104 for his poetic images he uses to praise God is what he sees in nature and this fits well into my title for this Psalm, “Praise of the Created”.

Finally I must also comment on the theory that this Psalm was an adaption of the far older Egyptian poem to the Sun disk God, Aten and indeed verses 20 – 26 appear very similar to a part of that ancient Egyptian poem. A Pharaoh named Akhenaten who forced Egypt dump the worship of many God’s to worship alone the Sun disk God Aten probably wrote this Egyptian poem. However the two poems are very different. As Temper Longman 111 aptly points out,

“The difference between the two poems is even more striking. After all, Akhenaten is worshipping the sun disk, and the Israelite psalmist is worshipping the Creator of the sun and all the cosmos”.

 So the writer of Psalm 104 seems to have got inspiration from a variety of bible and non – bible literature but his main inspiration was the world and the universe as he both saw them and understood them two and a half thousand years ago.

 With the theme of “Praise of the Created” in mind my outline for this Psalm talk is:

  1. (1 – 9)   PRAISE THE GLORIOUS CREATOR GOD
  2. (1 – 4)     The glorious creator God
  3. (5 – 9)     The creators creation

      2.  (10 – 18) PRAISE THE SUSTAINING CREATOR GOD

  1. (10 – 14a) The sustainer of animals and nature
  2. (14b – 15) The sustainer of man
  3. (16 – 18)   The sustainer of trees and birds

3. (19 – 30) PRAISE THE RULER OF CREATION

  1. (19 – 23)   The ruler and creator of the day and seasons
  2. (24 – 26)   The ruler and creator of the earth and sea
  3. (27 – 30)   The ruler and sustainer of all life

       4. (31 – 35) FINAL PRAISE OF THE GLORIOUS CREATOR GOD

  1. (31 – 34) The song of praise of the glorious creator God
  2. (vs. 35a)   A plea to vanish sinners who spoil God’s creation
  3. (vs. 35b)   A final praise of the great creator God

 

  1. (1 – 9)   PRAISE THE GLORIOUS CREATOR GOD

 

  1. (1 – 4)     The glorious creator God

 As I said in my introduction Psalm 104 Starts and ends with the same words as the previous Psalm, Psalm 103, which is,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul”

 Both Psalmist are urging and committing themselves to deep and earnest praise of their God who they call, “The Lord”. This praise is to come from the soul, that deep real and spiritual heart of man where God’s Holy Spirit can do his work of inspiration and renewal in our daily lives.

Both Psalmists are calling their congregations of believers and readers like us to join them in this word of deep praise and now in Psalm 104 its composer describes the Lord he is committed to praise.

I find five descriptions of his Lord who he is committed to praise and they all add up to his God being great and glorious. The five descriptions are:

  1. God is very great (vs. 1)
  2. God is clothed in splendor and majesty (vs. 1b)
  3. God is wrapped in light (vs. 2-3)
  4. God is supported by Angels his messengers (vs. 4)

 

  1. God is very great (vs. 1a)

The first description the writer of Psalm 104 gives of the God he is committed to praise is found in the expressing in verse 1 that says,

“O Lord my God you are very great”.

 We will see in this Psalm that the writer of it will go to great lengths to state why he believes thst the God of the bible is great through his wonderful work of creation. As I tried to express all those years ago in my poem, “Children of the Bay” that amazing beach on the south coast of my home state is but one magnificent example of the power and greatness of our creator God.

Nature both microscopically and universally demonstrates how amazing our God is in that he designed it all so well and that it not only all works together but it also is breathtakingly beautiful. To suggest what we see in nature is but a series of incredible accidents as the theory of evolution suggests is simply absurd to any intelligent being but yet the predominant belief in our world today is that the amazingly designed world we live in does not have a designer and in fact the design we see all around us and within us is simply a fluke of nature brought about by the mutations of living things over millions of years. These freaks of nature turned out to be able to adapt to our world better than their parents they came from and so they helped develop what we see today in the natural world.

No, No, No the amazing design of nature is so vast, complex and miraculous that freaks of nature no matter how long they had to develop could not explain it’s creation.

The answer is there is a God and he is very great so great that he is the one who has always existed and who sometime ago decided to set to work and create this universe and even time itself because even modern science believes time as we know it had a beginning.

As the first words of the bible says,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

 Or as Deuteronomy 10: 17 says,

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome”.

 Then we have the Psalm dedicated to the greatness of God, Psalm 145 and particularly verses 3 – 7,

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your

righteousness”.

God’s greatness here and in Psalm 104 is seen in his great acts of creation, which Psalm 145 calls in verse 4,

“Your mighty acts”

However God’s mighty or great acts of creation are not the only way we see in the bible the greatness of God for it is in his mighty acts of Salvation that flows from his great love for us that God’s greatness is supremely seen as David claims in Psalm 57: 9 – 10,

“I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”.

 In the New Testament it is God’s work of the new creation in us that his greatness is seen through the great work of God in Christ death and resurrection as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2: 1 – 7,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”.

  1. God is clothed in splendor and majesty (vs. 1b)

The writer of Psalm 104 adds to his statement of God’s greatness in verse 1 and description of God’s appearance with the words,

“You are clothed with splendor and majesty”

The ancient Hebrews who read these words would have been familiar with earthly kings attire. The greater the king the more spectacular the clothing that king wore in the presence of his people but God the king of heaven and earth attire makes the clothing of the earthly so called great king look like rags and as Isaiah says in Isaiah 64: 6,

“All our righteous acts are like filthy rags”.

Not only were the kings of the Nations dressed in filthy rags compared to the splendor and majesty the King of Heaven and earth is dressed in but their so called God’s were again just adorned in rags compared to the one true and great God of heaven and earth. David Guzik puts it this way in his commentary or Psalm 104,

“The idol gods of the nations were often crude and shameful in their conduct, but Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, is known for His honor and majesty”.

In the New Testament Jesus is seen as the visible representation of the splendor and majesty of God as we read in Hebrews 1: 3

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

The glory of God is seen particularly in Jesus death and resurrection for us as on the cross Jesus shows God’s justice in paying for our sins and his love in giving his life to forgive our sins. Jesus says this about himself when Judas leaves the last supper to betray Jesus that led directly to Jesus death on the cross, John 13: 31 – 32,

“When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him,God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once”.

But even before Jesus death on the cross something of his ascended splendor and glory is revealed in his transfiguration recorded in Matthew 17: 1 – 3,

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus”.

Before Jesus left the mountain God speaks from heaven and tells the disciples to listen to Jesus as he is his son, Matthew 17: 5,

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

 So the splendor and glory can be seen in God’s wonderful creation but it is better seen in his Son, Jesus Christ who through his glorious act of love on the cross is the splendor and majesty of God manifest and one day we all will see this splendor and majesty of God in Christ and we will be part of his glory and splendor when he returns and takes us to live with him in heaven as Paul speaks of in Colossians 3: 4,

“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory”. 

  1. God is wrapped in light (vs. 2-3)

The description of the glory of God the King in heaven is continued in the next two verses that speak of him as glorious light,

“He wraps himself in light as with a garment: he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters”.

 These two verses seem to feature three incredible poetic images:

  1. God wrapping himself in the garment of light
  2. God stretching out the heavens like a tent
  3. The storm God image

Lets have a look at each of these three incredible poetic images:

  1. God wrapping himself in the garment of light

The first poetic image of God wrapping himself in light or God being both the author of light and the ultimate expression of light is found right through the bible beginning of course with Genesis 1: 3 – 4,

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness”.

Moses came close to God and it resulted in his face becoming radiant with light, Exodus 34: 29,

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord”.

David speaks of great lights like lightening coming from the presence of God in Psalm 18: 12,

“Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning”.

The New Testament gives us even deeper teaching on how God is both the creator of light and light and his appearance is light, in 1 John 1: 5 we read,

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all”.

Paul tells us that God dwells in light in 1 Timothy 6: 16,

“Who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might forever. Amen”.

 Finally Jesus claimed to be the light of the world and all who follow him will not live in darkness, John 8: 12,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

So God wraps himself in light as he is light and in heaven we will not need the sun to provide us light for God himself will shine for us in heaven for his and his Sons glory will be our light, Revelation 21: 22 – 23,

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp”.

  1. God stretching out the heavens like a tent

The second light poetic description is God stretching out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. The heavens hear are seen as God’s tent stretched out above us on what is described as “lays of beams of his upper chambers on their waters”. This is a poetic image of God in so much control of the heavens it as though the heavens or skies here in Psalm 104 are like a gigantic tent or canopy Leopold explains the expression of the tent image well with these words,

“As man erects his tent, so the Lord by a few simple movements erected the heavens”.

 Then the image of beams of light on the heavenly stores of water is alluded to in the words of verse 3,

“And lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters”.

 Longman points out that,

“The understanding that the heavens contained massive amounts of water was an ancient idea confirmed by the rain that fell from the sky”.

 This does not prove the writers of the bible got the scientific explanation wrong, as this is a poetic image not a statement of fact. I always get a little uptight when some Christians try to use the bible as a kind of science text- book when it never claims to be such and in fact is far from a science text- book. I equally get uptight when atheistic scientists criticize the bible’s God given inspiration by also treating the bible as a flawed science text book as it never claims to be so. I see science as man’s attempt to discover how this world was made when the bible tells us who created it and why he created it.

Psalm 104 verse 3 is poetically saying God is so great and glorious and he is the one beyond and in the clouds declaring his glory in the skies above as Psalm 19 verse 1 states,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”. 

  1. The storm God image

Finally in verse 3 we have a further image of this great and glorious God and the heavens or skies in what some commentators like Longman point out is an image adapted from Canaanite mythology of the chariot -riding storm God called Baal, Longman writes,

“Storm god imagery, God, like the storm god Baal in the Ugarite texts, rides the cloud, the vehicular cloud being his war chariot”.

 Again the poetic image the writer of Psalm 104 uses is not saying the clouds and storms in the sky are God riding some sort of chariot across the sky but rather the God who created clouds and storms makes them to appear like his glory and greatness is riding on the clouds and winds.

As we read in Deuteronomy 33: 26, which equally could have been the source for the writer of Psalm 104 poetic image,

“There is no one like God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty”.

 I find it fascinating that the image of God in the sky has a New Testament equivalent and that is the description of the return of Jesus.

Revelation 1: 7 says,

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pieced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him, So shall it be! Amen”

 Exactly what this will look like, I do not know but somehow the sky as we know it today will change and we will see Jesus coming in the clouds all over the world. Surely this will be the final vision of the greatness and glory of God this world will see before the New Heaven and the New Earth is established.

  1. God is supported by Angels his messengers (vs. 4)

The final description of the great and glorious nature of God in these opening verses is verse 4,

“He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants”.

 Most commentators believe this final vision of the greatness and glory of God is referring to the Angels who are presented as God’s messages and servants as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 1: 7,

“In speaking of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire”.

 The idea of the Angels being God’s messengers and servants is also in the previous Psalm, 103: 20 – 21,

“Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. 21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will”.

So this last image of the greatness and glory of God is how God is the creator and controller of all the Angels in heaven who he is surround by singing his praises as we read of this in Revelation 7: 11 – 12,

“All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

  1. (5 – 9)     The creators creation

 So the writer of Psalm 104 completes his description of the greatness and splendour or glory of God, which he longs from his heart to praise, now he moves on in the second part of the first section to describe the creator God’s creation as again a source of praise to his great God.

This description of God’s great and glorious creation speaks of two aspects of God’s creation:

  1. The foundations (vs. 5)
  2. The water or oceans (vs’s 6 – 9)

Lets have a close look at each of these two aspects of God’s creation.

  1. The foundations (vs. 5)

When God finally spoke to Job in Job 38 he asked job a series of questions and one was, was Job present when God laid the foundations of the earth and this is the exact reference, Job 38: 4 – 6,

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone”.

Of course Job would have to answer, No I was not there God when you made the world but I guess the point of God’s speech to Job is to give Job a bigger view of himself and with a bigger view of God he was given the strength of mind and spirit to bear the great suffering he had to bare.

Science today speaks a lot about the building blocks of life and all life in our universe is dependant on laws or rules of nature and we know that the author of these very important laws of nature is God, the God of the bible.

Later in God’s speech to Job he says this in verse 33,

“Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s domain over the earth?

In our modern day we know a lot of these laws, which are the foundations of not only our world but also all life. God is the author of these laws and he is then the sure foundation of this world and should be the sure foundation of our lives.

Jesus spoke of this in the words of a parable in the Gospels like Matthew 7: 24 – 27,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

 The sure foundation of life Jesus says is his word or we might add the word of God. I mentioned before that Science seeks to answer the question of how God made the world and in fact the only sure word from God about how he made this word is three simple words in Genesis 1,

“And God said”

 So powerful is the word of God that through it the entire world and the universe were made. The writer to the Hebrews says this about the powerful word of God in Hebrews 4: 12,

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”.

May science continue to seek to understand how God made this world but for me I am content to just say God made this world and he did it through his divine and powerful word.

  1. The water or oceans (vs’s 6 – 9)

One of the miraculous nature of this world we call earth is water. All scientists agree that water and our protective atmosphere that also contains water in the form of water vapour is what makes our earth unique. It has been estimated by scientists that 71% of the earth is covered by water and 96.5% of that is found in the oceans. So the writer of Psalm 104 naturally spends quite some time on the topic of water as he is inspired by what he sees in nature to praise his great creator God.

The writer poetically describes God’s creation of the water in and on the earth in verses 6 – 9.

He starts this poetic description of God’s creation of the water on the earth in verse 6 with these words,

“You covered it with the deep as a garment; the waters stood above the mountains”.

Even science believes that the early earth was covered by water and some say less than 3% of the earth was dry land millions of years ago. The writer of Psalm 104 poetically describes the earth as a water world saying that even the mountains that existed then were covered by water.

Some bible scholars thinks that this section of the Psalm is referring to the great flood but most dismiss this idea and point to part of God’s creation of the earth as we know it today. This part of the Psalm verses 6 – 9 is believed to have been inspired by Genesis 1: 9,

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so”.

This idea seems to be verified by what the writer of Psalm 104 says in verses 7 and 8,

“But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;

they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them”

 Note how even the writer of Psalm 104 declares that this creation of dry land and ocean was by the powerful word of God which he describes as God’s “rebuke” and “at the sound of your thunder” which is a poetic way of saying when God speaks there is a powerful effect. As I said before science is still trying to work out how this world was formed but it certainly was not a blind mindless process of evolution but a carefully performed work of creation by an intelligent designer we know as the God of the bible.

Christians might differ in the time scale and how God actually did it but they all agree that this world is the product one way or another of an intelligent designer who is the eternal God presented to us in the bible.

Finally in this short part of the Psalm devoted to the creation of the oceans and dry land verse 9, says,

“You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth”.

 Genesis 1: 10 says,

“God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good”.

Even modern science would agree that what we have with 71% of the earth covered with water and the rest dry land is good as it is what makes life possible and no other earth like planet has been passively found yet although some scientists believe they know of possible earth like planets revolving around other far distant stars. They have no way of saying that even if they exist life as on earth exists there as well.

God made this world unique with its vast oceans filled with life and its beautiful dry land also filled with all kinds of life and he made it for us to enjoy and look after and it saddens me when I see people abusing their unique role in this world with willful sinful destruction of habitants and with pollution and other damaging sinful actions. This is why Paul says in Romans 8: 19 – 21,

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God”.

This problem of sinful man marring this world will come up in verse 35 the last verse of this Psalm and what the writer of Psalm 104 asks for in that verse will surprise you.

  1. (10 – 18) PRAISE THE SUSTAINING CREATOR GOD

1.  (10 – 14a) The sustainer of animals and nature

Some people over the centuries have believed that the evidence of nature and sound human reasoning does point to the existence of a God and that he or it (it being a force) created this world but they believe that God or force is no longer involved in this world which is a belief called Deism.

People who believe in Deism believe that the God who created the world does not get involved in this world and so they reject any form of supernatural involvement of God in the world. The analogy of this belief is a clock as the Deism believer believes the world is like a clock made by a clockmaker but that clockmaker made the clock and has just left it ticking rather than attending to it’s ongoing daily running.

This second section of Psalm 104 verses 10 – 18 puts down the idea of Deism as it presents that the creator God did not only wonderfully create this world but he also keeps it going or continually sustains it and is intimately involved in its day to day functions.

Verses 10 – 13a speak of the creator God sustaining all of nature and the animals on a day-to-day basis. Lets have a close look at each of these three and half verses.

In verse 10 the writer of Psalm 104 continues to speak about water but now how God provides water continually on the earth,

“He makes springs poor water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains”.

 The writer sees God as the God who provides water on the earth and as I said before it is water that helps make both life possible and also helps to sustain it. From time to time different areas of the earth suffer water deprivation, which we call droughts or famines, but sometimes these are caused by the sinfulness of man affecting the climate or in the case of famine the miss – use of the soil and land.

Sometimes God withholds the provision of water because of the sinfulness of a group of people like we see in Amos 4: 7 -8,

“I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away.

I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. People staggered from town to town for water but did not get

enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord”.

Yet God does not always cause drought on all sinful people which is evidence of his grace or love we do not deserve as Jesus speaks of in Matthew 5: 45,

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.

So the first argument against Deism is that God is involved in this world providing rain or the lack of it on a day-to-day basis.

Then in verses 11 and 12 we read of some of the reasons why God provides water in the form of rivers and streams for this world on a daily basis,

“They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches”.

The Psalmist singles out a small group of animals to say that God provides water for all animals on a daily basis. It is an interesting fact that up to 90% of all living organism’s on earth, including humans is made up of water. Water then is an important key to human life on earth and we have to take it with us when we leave this earth as so far drinkable water is only found on earth.

Then in verse 14 the Psalmist points out that God continually supplies water in the form of rain for the whole earth to help satisfy this worlds need for it and this is a fruit or evidence of God’s goodness for the entire earth,

“He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work”.

Note again the ancients believed that in the higher atmosphere is a large storage chamber of rainwater that God uses to water the earth.

We no that no such chambers exist but God uses the process of water evaporation from the earth and sea to seed the clouds to send down rain but this process is a creation of God and he also creates the climatic conditions for this process to happen or not happen.

I like Spurgeon’s comments on this verse, which says,

“The result of the divine working is fullness everywhere, the soil is saturated with rain, the seed germinates, the beast’s drink, and the birds sing– nothing is left without supplies. So, too, is it in the new creation, he giveth more grace, he fills his people with good, and makes them all confess, “of his fullness have all we received and grace for grace.”

Finally in the opening phrase of verse 14 we read,

“He makes grass grow for the cattle”.

Cattle are the last animal named helped by the provision of water and this is because these animals have a direct bearing on God’s provision for mankind. Cattle since the fall of man have always provided sustenance for man and it is incorrect to suggest that the bible advocates a vegetarian diet for man. Not to say being a vegetarian is a bad thing but people who choose to or are forced to not eat meat must make sure they eat non meat products that substitute the place of mainly protein in our diet that God has made our bodies dependant on for good health by consuming meat.

  1. (14b – 15)   The sustainer of man

 As I said before the link between God providing foods for man through his ongoing sustaining work of providing water to the earth is how water helps grass to grow for cattle to eat and therefore thrive and cattle provide a major food group for mankind.

Now in the second half of verse 14 God’s provision of water for this world is related to mankind directly. We read in verse 14b,

“And plants for man to cultivate – bringing forth food from the earth”.

 The other major food source for mankind is found in plants which mankind for a long time has cultivated but note the link to this and God which is God continually supplies water for cultivation which brings forth food from the earth.

Psalm 65 seems to be a Psalm of David written for some kind of harvest festival celebration and a more detailed description of God’s bountiful provision in agriculture is spelt out in verses 9 – 13 in which God is like a divine gardener intimately involved in helping mans crops to grow and bear fruit,

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. 13 The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing”.

I have a very popular Psalm talk on Psalm 65 called “Praise the Lord of the Harvest” if you want a detailed exposition of these verses.

Then we read in verse 15,

“Wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart”.

 The three provisions of God here represent the main needs of man, with wine also a substitute for water in ancient times, oil for cooking and cleaning thus the reference to “his face shinning” and bread the basic food stuff of most cultures even today. All of these provisions are presented in a positive light as wine gladdens the heart, oil makes the face to shine and bread sustains the heart. This means that God’s day to day provisions make our lives flourish and we should thank God constantly for them.

What might seem mundane to some, namely our daily provision of food Jesus felt that this was so important that he included a request for it in his model prayer often called the Lords prayer, Matthew 6: 11,

“Give us today our daily bread”.

 Those who are suffering hunger in our world today need our help, support and prayer and we can do this through overseas aid organisations. Sometimes we have the opportunity I helping people in the poorer parts of this world directly. On my many mission trips to South East Asia I have given money for the purchase of pigs and land and equipment to grow rice, which has a far bigger impact than an occasional meal handout. I can recommend TEAR Fund, which is an organisation that seeks to help hungry people in our world in this way and also presents to them the life changing Gospel message.

  1. (16 – 18)   The sustainer of trees and birds

The writer of Psalm 104 then speaks of God’s provision of other aspects of nature not necessarily associated with food for animals and particularly animals and plants that provide food for mankind. He picks up three wonderful aspects of our natural world trees or forests and birds who find their homes in them and other animals rarely seen and therefore not eaten like wild goats and badgers.

These aspects of our natural world are their for us to enjoy for their beauty and wonder and it seems our writer has a special part of his part of the world in mind here, namely the forests in Lebanon as we read in verse 16,

“The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted”.

 I looked up an article on Wikipedia on the Cedars of Lebanon, which are mentioned in the bible in a number of places, and I discovered that,

“Their timber was exploited by the Phoenicians, Israelites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, and Turks. The wood was prized by Egyptians for shipbuilding; the Ottoman Empire used the cedars in railway construction” (Wikipedia article “Cedars of God”).

 Even in the First World War these beautiful trees were cut down to be used as railway sleepers.I also read that what is left of the Cedar forests of Lebanon is now a world listed heritage site and the Cedar tree forests are making a come back as excessive exportation of this natural resource has finally ceased.

The Cedar of Lebanon are known as the Cedars of God or Cedars of the Lord and maybe our verse 16 of this Psalm has helped develop this title for this beautiful tree. So it appears that God is a divine conservationist as he is the one who created the world of nature and of course this verse says that he is the one who seeks to maintain it.

Then in verse 17 the writer switches to birds that make their nests in trees like the Cedars of Lebanon,

“There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees”.

 I know of many Christian ministers in my past who were avid bird watchers and my country of Australia is world renowned for a great variety of tuneful colourful birds. In fact where I live, the Blue Mountains 70kl. West of Sydney has many wonderful examples of these birds. I can look outside my study window and often see a variety of colourful parrots, native pigeons and birds like the tuneful Kookaburra. My area has such a variety of birds because like ancient Lebanon it has large forest areas where birds can nest and feed.

All this is in place because God created the environment and animal life to live in it and also because God continues to provide the means to sustain it on a day-to-day basis. However it seems sometimes that sinful man seeks to work against God’s natural world provisions through exploration and even wilful vandalism of God’s natural world. Again this is why Paul speaks of the natural world groaning in Romans 8: 19 – 21,

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time”.

But God continues to sustain this world with his undeserved love expressed in the provision of things like rain on the just and the unjust as Jesus pointed out.

So God continues to give sinful man a beautiful world but often sinful men and women abuse this world and take God’s provision of it for granted and worse again many seek to deny both God as the creator and sustainer of this world by simply saying he doesn’t even exist.

 Finally our writer takes us poetically into the high often-unreachable parts of the mountain area in Lebanon with the words,

“The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys”

 Coneys are apparently wild badgers and these animals would have been rarely seen and were not part of the food chain for the people of our writer’s day. So even these unseen areas and animals were created by God and are provided for by him. There are a lot of examples in nature of animals and plants etc. that are either never seen or rarely seen but these also are part of God’s wonderful creation he has made for us to enjoy and we should praise him for this like our writer is obviously seeking to do.

  1. (19 – 30) PRAISE THE RULER OF CREATION

1.  (19 – 23)   The ruler and creator of the day and seasons

The writer of Psalm steps up his creation images for praise of its creator who not only created the day and seasons but rules the natural world through them. Many commentators refer to Genesis 1: 3 which speaks of God creating day and night through the creation of Sun and moon to mark day and night and this seems obvious from what we read in verse 19 and 20,

“The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, all the beasts of the forest prowl”.

 Without the sun we would not only have no life we would be in total darkness so the sun is God’s way of shinning light on this world. God provides the light of the world in more ways than one as he, through his Son Jesus Christ gives us spiritual light to light our spiritual blindness or darkness. Speaking of Jesus as the word of God who created the world John goes to say this about Jesus in John 1: 3 – 5,

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.

This means God rules both the day and night through the sun, which he created and maintains. He rules the seasons as well which the Jews marked many of their special festivals and rituals by the cycle of the moon. The Jewish Passover is 15 days after the new moon in either late March or April, which also guides Christians to the date, who mark Easter by the first Sunday after the full moon at the same time of the year. A Jewish article on a Jewish web site called Chabod.com says this about the Jewish calendar and its relationship to the cycle of the moon,

“The Jewish calendar normally consists of twelve lunar months. A lunar month—from the moment when the crescent new moon appears until it disappears once again—is roughly 29.5 days. Twelve lunar months equal 354 days, eleven days less than the solar year.”

 So no only humans are ruled by God through the movement of the sun and moon but also are the animals and this is what the words at the end of verse 20 is saying,

“It becomes night, all the beasts of the forest prowl”.

 This idea is continued in verses 21 – 22,

“The lion roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens.”

 Many years ago my wife and I had a week’s holiday in Singapore and on one of the nights there we went on the night- time tour of the famous Singapore Zoo. We sat comfortably in a train like electric motor vehicle as it quietly moved through the Zoo at night and using ultra violet light invisible to animals we could see the animals in the Zoo at night. It was amazing as the animals in a Zoo during the day seem to be always sleeping but at night they are really active.

God designed animals like lions to be able to see things in the dark and using the cover of night catch the prey they need to eat to survive. I read a very interesting article on Lions in the bible on the Web page “Belief net” called “Aslans Ancestors” and the author of that article says this about lions in the bible in the opening two paragraphs,

“In one of the more memorable lines in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” the question is raised about whether Aslan, the lion in the story, is `safe.’ The reply is “No, he is not safe, but he is good.” This certainly fits the image of lions in the Bible.

 Of the dozens of biblical texts about lions, most remind us of the strength, fierceness, and roar of these predators. There were lions in Israel during biblical times, and shepherds, farmers and travellers seem to have encountered them most often. The lion often attacked flocks unexpectedly, and was ruthless and usually unstoppable. The roar of the lion was audible for miles, but he was deadly silent when in attack mode”.

 Lions often attacked flocks of sheep at night in bible times and therefore the shepherd would put the sheep in a sheep pen at night and sleep at its entrance as its gate which is the image Jesus refers to in John 10: 9,

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture”.

Jesus speaks of how he is the Good shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep and how when a wild animal like a wolf, another wild animal like a lion who hunts at night, comes to attack the flock he is not like the Shepherd who runs away but the Good shepherd who not only knows his sheep but will not let them out of his safe hands.

Then in verse 23 the writer turns from the night time activities of animals like the lions to the day time special creation of God, man and he goes out to work in the day to evening when it gets dark again,

“Then man goes out to his work, to his labour until evening”.

 The normal time for men and women to work is day- time and even today with modern lighting a smaller number of the working population work at night. I saw recently on TV a very interesting documentary on sleep and it went into the very tricky process of changing the human brain to fully accept working after the sun goes down.

Astronauts for instance have to spend days locked away from the real normal world to be able to trick their bodies into being able to fully work outside of the normal cycle of day and night. Night shift workers have a lot of trouble having a healthy sleep life as they often find that even though they are very tired they cannot sleep during the day.

God has made our minds and bodies to work during the day and sleep at night and this is the normal rhythm of life God ordained for human beings.

  1. (24 – 26)   The ruler and creator of the earth and sea

So we have just learnt that God the creator rules the day and night and all the seasons of the year based on the cycles of the moon by the ancient Hebrews but now in verses 24 – 26 we learn that God the creator rules the earth and the sea.

Verse 24 speaks of God the creator’s rule of the earth,

“How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures”.

 An internet sight called “factmonster.com” makes this amazing claim about the number of animal life on our earth,

“No one knows for sure how many species of animals exist on Earth. In fact, some 10,000 species of animals are discovered each year, with over one and a half million species already described. Projections for the total number of species on Earth range from 2 million to 50 million”.

So the number of God’s works particularly in the form of creatures or animal life is even unknown to modern science and even today new forms of creatures on earth are being discovered.

Verse 24 tells us that,

Lord! In wisdom you made them all”

 The book of proverbs that speaks in some detail about the wisdom of God says this about the wisdom of God in creation in Proverbs 3: 19,

“By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place”.

 In Proverbs 8: 22 – 31 God’s wisdom is personified and in some detail it, God’s wisdom” is the creative force and genius of everything in creation,

“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; 23 I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. 24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs

overflowing with water; 25 before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, 26 before he made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the

earth. 27 I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, 28 when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, 29 when he gave the sea its boundary so the

waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

30 Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind”.

This might be miss- understood as speaking of Jesus Christ but of course verse 23 that speaks of the birth of wisdom makes it clear this is not directly speaking of Jesus Christ, as he has always existed with the father in heaven. However Jesus is described in John 1 as the word of God who created all things so Jesus is God’s wisdom in that sense who created the earth, animals and all of creation.

Verses 25 and 26 feature God’s rule and creation of the sea,

“There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there”.

Even though these verses do not say directly that God rules the sea it is implied because in the ancient world the sea was so vast and powerful. Pagan God’s had little or no control over the sea and the sea then represented chaos in our world and universe yet our writer of Psalm 104 speaks of the sea as God’s creation which is vast and spacious teeming with life which God has made.

Psalm 93 verses 3 and 4 make it clear that even the sea, which seems to rise up against even its creator, is well and truly under its creator’s control,

The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the Lord on high is mighty”.

So the sea contains vast number of creatures still unnumbered and in recent years weird and amazing new aquatic animal life have been discovered in the depths of the sea that exist somehow at great depths in almost total darkness and their bodies glow to give them light.

Our God is an incredible creator that our oceans like our land are teeming with animals both large and small and this too should cause us to praise God. However even close to the surface and on the surface God’s creating force and rule of the sea can be witnessed. This is because the writer of Psalm 104 speaks of the ships on man going to and fro on our oceans and what many believe as whales, called “Leviathans” by our writer frolic in the ocean close to the surface.

The fact that human ships can float on the sea is part of God’s creation and the sea monsters here called “Leviathans” also are not any danger to the rule of God as they were formed by him and are described as simply frolicking in the sea as we know today large whales do.

The bible refers to the monster sea animals, “Leviathans” in a number of places like the book of Job, Job 41 and Isaiah 27: 1,

“In that day, the Lord will punish with his sword— his fierce, great and powerful sword— Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea”.

Here the sea monster is a poetic image of the Nations of the world that oppose him and his people Israel who will fall under God’s judgment and be punished by him. Tremper Longman 111 sheds light on the use of the “Leviathan” in Psalm 104: 26 with these words,

“In the bible the Leviathan, though formidable is controlled by God and is here presented as God’s creature which enjoys its God given habits in the sea”.

So God created and rules the sea and all that is in it and on it. Those who sail on the sea can experience great peril and danger when it is caused by storm and wind to rise up in anger and recently I sang in the church the hymn often called the seafarers hymn which the first verse says,

“Eternal Father, strong to save,

Whose arm restrains the restless wave,

Who told the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed bounds to keep:

We cry, O God of majesty,

For those in peril on the sea”.

  1. (27 – 30)   The ruler and sustainer of all life

The last part of this third section of the Psalm makes it clear that the writer of Psalm 104 has been thinking of God’s rule of the sea and earth that he created. He speaks of this rule of God in three ways:

  1. God’s rule seen in his provision of food for all his creators (27- 28)
  2. God’s rule seen in how his creators rely on him for life (vs. 29)
  3. God’s rule seen in the power of his Spirits creative power (vs. 30)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three ways God’s rule of his creation is seen in his creators on earth.

  1. God’s rule seen in his provision of food for all his creators (27 – 28)

Already the writer of Psalm 104 has spoken of how God provides water for all his creators on earth including man in verses 11 – 19 and now he speaks in verses 27 – 28 how God rules this earth by providing all his creatures food to eat that gives them life,

“These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things”.

 We say grace before a meal as a way of thanking God for his provision of food for our bodies and verse 27 makes it clear that all animal life including man is dependant on God for their daily food. Jesus instructed us to include in our daily prayers a request to God for daily bread, Matthew 6: 11,

“Give us today our daily bread”.

I like the expression in verse 28 that says,

“They gather it up; when you open your hand”.

 Which reminds me of the old Negro Spiritual that simply says,

“You’ve got the whole world in your hands”.

 God has even our daily supply of food in his hands as he rules this world to make things grow and live that we eat on a daily basis. It is hard for those of us who live in a modern city world to often appreciate how dependant we are on God’s rule of the earth to help grow crops and provide food for animals we eat to live. Occasionally something happens in the natural world to remind us how the things that grow on farms supply the food we eat.

Some years ago Australia suffered the great damage of a cyclone destroying most of our Northern Australia banana crops and the price of bananas went from 1 or 2 dollars a kilo to $20 a kilo. We all complained and had a timely reminder of our dependants on farm products that of course rely on the blessing and rule of God to produce our food products. We should then always make sure we thank or praise God for his provision of our daily bread or food as Paul says in Ephesians 5: 20,

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. 

  1. God’s rule seen in how his creators rely on him for life (vs. 29)

The example of the cyclone destroying much of the Australian banana crops is a good example of what I think verse 29 is speaking of,

“When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust”.

David Guzik writes,

“Creation is so dependent upon God that if He were to hide his presence or take away their breath, they would perish”.

When disasters like Cyclones or earthquakes etc. happen we are reminded how much we rely of the generally good grace or love of God in that when nature seems to turn on us we feel that God has hid his face for a time on us. Of course we need to always remember that God is in control not only in good times but in the bad or difficult times of life as well and hang on, by faith to a verse like Romans 8: 28,

“And we know that in all things God works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

Many Christians have testified of the help God has given them in the worst of situations and can join with Paul in the words of another verse from Romans 8, verse 18, which says,

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us”.

God doesn’t ever fully hide his face or take away our breath generally speaking from this world, as it has not yet perished even though it has seemed to come close to that in times past.

God created this world and rules it by keeping it going even in the face of great opposition from his special creation namely man who Genesis 2: 7, describes was created by God in a special way.

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”.

So it is, because of sin that the final words of verse 29 become a reality for all men and women,

“They die and return to the dust”

Death it seems is not what man was made for but because of sin it is sadly the reality of man’s existence. As the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 9: 27,

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”.

  1. God’s rule seen in the power of his Spirits creative power (vs. 30)

Verse 30 offers us hope in the face of death and decay,

“When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth”.

 I like the way the Jamieson, Faussel and Brown commentary explains the meaning of this verse,

“By His spirit, or breath, or mere word, He gives life. It is His constant providence which repairs the wastes of time and disease”.

 Generations of people pass but God’s powerful creative spirit raises yet anther new generation and the coming of God’s Spirit to renew life is totally fulfilled in the coming of God’s Holy Spirit to all true believers in Christ and what he has done for us on the cross.

God’s spirit brings about what Paul calls a new creation in the hearts and lives of all true believers in Christ as he writes in 2 Corinthians 5: 17,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here”.

Earlier Paul says this about the Spirits work of regeneration and sanctification in the lives all true believers in 2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.

Only yesterday my wife and I visited a large cemetery in Sydney to put some flowers on my mother – in – laws grave and the thought that one day I to will end up with some kind of grave crossed my mind but praise God through the death of his son on the cross and through the powerful work of God’s Holy Spirit my grave is not my end but only signifies my renewal of life from the face of the earth.

This thought, as it did for the writer of Psalm 104 should lead us to praise God always from deep within our hearts and lives.

  1. (31 – 35) FINAL PRAISE OF THE GLORIOUS CREATOR GOD

1. (31 – 34) The song of praise of the glorious creator God

The writer of Psalm 104 then proceeds to bring his praise of the created to a climax with what I feel is a song within a song. This because he does three things in verses 31 – 34 in the rhythm of the words of a song and these three things are:

  1. A rejoicing word of praise (31 – 32)
  2. A song of life long praise (vs. 33)
  3. A meditation of pleasing God praise (vs. 34)

Lets have a close look at each of these three things that represent his song of praise to his glorious creator God.

  1. A rejoicing word of praise (31 – 32)

The writer of Psalm 104 in verse 31 makes a determination to rejoice in praise to his great creator God, he writes,

“May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works”.

It is as though the writer is saying because of all the wonderful things you have done and shown us Lord in your creation may I now glory in your works of creation and I might add re-creation forever. This is the fate of all who call on the name of the Lord to be saved in that one day they will go to be with him to glory in him, praise him and rejoice with him in both who he is and what he has done in heaven and in earth for us as we read in Revelation 7: 9 – 12,

“ After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

 “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”

So in heaven God rejoices in his works of creation and re-creation and we will join all of heaven in glorifying and praising him for that as well. This is again the destiny of all true believers like the writer of Psalm 104 who goes on to describe this great creator God this way in verse 32,

“He looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke”.

I like Albert Barnes explanation of this verse,

“There is great sublimity in this expression, as indicating the power and the majesty of God. He has only to “look” upon his works, and they stand in awe and tremble. The most mighty and fearful convulsions of nature occur as if they were the mere effect of God’s “looking” on the earth”.

 The old King James Version of the bible translates Hebrews 10: 27 with these words,

“ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

So for those who refuse to turn back to God in repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus will face a God that verse 32 says causes the earth to tremble and the mountains to smoke and that is indeed a fearful thing.

  1. A song of life long praise (vs. 33)

The writer of Psalm 104 then speaks of singing a song of praise, which I have called a song of life long praise he writes or sings in verse 33,

“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live”.

David over and over again speaks of singing praises to his God like Psalm 13: 6,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me”.

 Then in Psalm 66 verses 1 – 3 we read a psalmist which could have been David we are not sure giving us a much more detailed call to sing and praise the Lord,

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you”.

Music has been such a vital part of my life and so the idea of singing God’s praise all my life as the writer of Psalm 104 says, “As long as I live” really appeals to me. However the writer is not speaking about simply singing all our lives as that would be impossible but he is speaking more about praise and thanks to God being our constant attitude of life as Paul calls us to in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

 “Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

When we consider God’s work of creation in our wonderful world and re-creation in our daily lives we should want to but sing his praises in all circumstances as the writer of Psalm 104 determines to do in verse 33. 

  1. A meditation of pleasing God praise (vs. 34)

 The writer of Psalm 104 then completes his expression of his determination to praise God his glorious creator, who rules this word with these words in verse 34,

“May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord”.

 This verse in Psalm 104 reminds me of the last verse of David’s praise of the created psalm, Psalm 19 verse 14,

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer”.

Mark Virkler gives us an excellent summary of what the word or idea of meditation is in the bible with these words,

“Biblical meditationPrayerful reflection where you ask the Holy Spirit to illumine your understanding as Jesus did with the disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke24:32). Meditation includes picturing, speaking, feeling and study. Meditation is the Holy Spirit using all faculties in man’s heart and mind”.

 So the writer of Psalm 104 wants to use all his facilities of his heart and mind to give God joyful praise that he hoped would be pleasing to God.

So the writer of Psalm 104 used what he read, saw and what he knew about God in nature to praise the Lord from deep within his heart or soul.

  1. (vs. 35a)   A plea to vanish sinners who spoil God’s creation

The first part of the final verse of Psalm 104 seems to be both jarring and out of place in a Psalm that is filled with wonderful words of praise for the glorious creator God. This, I believe is not a mistake but is quite intentional as the writer is dropping into his Psalm the one major negative aspect of this world, our sin, he writes,

“But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more”.

 Allen Harman writes,

“All that mars God’s creation is the presence of sin. So the psalmist prays for the removal of sinners, for they have no rightful place amidst the beauty of purity of God’s creation”.

 I have already mentioned the connection of mankind’s sin and the created world or nature that Paul makes in Romans 8 and because this is so important and instructive here, here is Pauls complete argument in verses 18 – 25,

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”.

Note how Paul indicates that creation will not be released from the bondage of sin unto the children of God is revealed vs. 19 and unto our adoption to sonship in verse 23 which is of course speaking of the coming of Jesus to judge this world and take back to heaven all who belong to him, his children.

The problem with praying for all sinners to vanish from the earth lies in the truth Paul expresses so clearly in Romans 3: 23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

To do away with sinners then is to do away with everyone and this is why creation groans and longs for the day sin and sinners will be gone but the other wonderful truth found in Pauls words in Romans and even in Romans 8: 24,

For in this hope we were saved”

This hope in which we are saved is expressed so clearly in Romans 6: 23,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

The writer of Psalm 104 is correct in seeing that mankind’s sin is the one thing in all of creation that mars it but for that to be fully dealt with Jesus has to return to do away with sin and sinners who have not turned to him in repentance and faith.

Of course those of us who are God’s children or those who are part of God’s family have a duty to show the world how God wants us to care for this world and help stop the exploitation and vandalism of this world and its bountiful resources.

The vision of what our existence will be like once Jesus has returned and sinners have been vanished from the earth is seen particularly in passages of scripture in the book of Revelation like Revelation 21: 1 – 4,

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth”, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

All I can add to this is, if you think this heaven and earth is gloriously beautiful then what is the new heaven and earth going to be like when sin and death is vanished and we are perfectly with God dwelling with him in what could only be described as paradise.

  1. (vs. 35b)   A final praise of the great creator God

The writer of Psalm 104 closes with excellent words of conclusion to his praise of the created in verse 35b.

“Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion”.

This world and its endless heavens are his works and as Psalm 19: 1 says, they declare his glory but we too are his works in the form of his new creation that he has brought about through his son’s death on the cross and the powerful regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So we too must live to the praise and glory of God as Paul told the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 10: 31,

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

The writers final words are the same as his opening words,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, Praise the Lord”

All I can say to this is Amen.

I close as usual with a original poem and a prayer.

PRAISE OF THE CREATED

(Based on Psalm 104)

I see the Lord in his splendor

Clothed in majestic light.

He sits up high up in heaven

I’ll praise him with my life.

O God you stretch out the heavens

Your glory is seen in the sky

And I will join the Angels

And praise the Lord up on high.

 

I see how God made the earth

So firm and so beautiful.

He made the sea and water

And all seems so bountiful.

O God you made the rivers

That gives life and quenches our thirst

And the birds now sing your praises

As does all life that that lives on earth.

 

I see how man has plenty

Of food so that he can live

This comes from God the creator

Whose hands so freely do give.

The mountains reveal God’s glory

In there forests many birds do sing

The moon and the sun make our seasons

And all nature gives praise to the king.

 

I see the ships on the ocean

Able to sail to and fro.

I see the whales as they frolic

All this is God’s power on show.

God gives us life through his spirit

But through sin to dust we do go

But in Jesus we will rise up to heaven

And there new life we will know.

 

I will praise God forever

Rejoicing in his glorious deeds..

He is a God so powerful

From him all wonder proceeds.

I will sing to the Lord all my life

A praise of the created I will be

For Jesus came down from glory

To die on the cross for me.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Praise the Lord O my soul for all your wonderful works of creation in this world. O Lord you made the land and sea, animals and birds and this world we live in is teeming with your glorious life. I thank you for the provision of water to drink and food to eat but above all I thank you for your new creation in us through faith in your son Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the cross. Also I praise you for your Holy Spirits power who is re-creating our lives day by day and hour by hour. May we live to your glory as a praise of the created that will one day join the angels praise in heaven ever singing, “How great you are and how wonderful is your love to us through your Son Jesus Christ”, in whom whose name we pray this prayer, Amen

PSALM 103 TALK: PRAISE GOD FOR THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING HIM

PSALM 103 TALK: PRAISE GOD FOR THE BENEFITS OF KNOWING HIM

 (A Psalm that calls us to praise God for all the wonderful benefits of knowing him both personally and as his people, those who belong to his church who are all the true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ. We are to join with the Angels in heaven and all creation in heart felt thankful praise for our God and Savior Jesus Christ.)

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

 One of our two ministers of our church runs regularly a evangelistic program for non – believers called Christianity explained and he was telling us recently that in one of these courses a participant told him that he could see the truth and value of the Christian message. Thinking that this young man was now willing to turn to the Lord Jesus in faith and commitment he was surprised that the young man went on to say but I am not willing at this stage of my life to give up my way of life, my friends and the things I enjoyed in this life.

Many non – believers are like this young man see becoming a Christian or as some put becoming religious means giving up lots of things in life and to take on living a boring or unattractive life style. My answer to this is nothing could be further from the truth. Yes I might have had to give up a few things when I became a Christian like getting drunk or swearing or other things like that but my experience and the experience of all my Christian friends over the years is that I was given far more and greater things by God than I had to give up.

What are the benefits then of being a true believer of Christ?

Many of the answers to this important question is given in Psalm 103 and the key verse of this wonderful Psalm is verse 2,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”.

 The Psalm then gives us many wonderful benefits of knowing God in our life, first from a personal point of view and then from a corporate or being in God’s kingdom or family point of view. I hope to open to you what these benefits of knowing the Lord are in this Psalm talk.

However before we launch into that I would like to make some basic background remarks to this Psalm. First of all the Psalms Hebrew heading says that this Psalm was written by King David,

“Of David”

 Reads the heading and yet we know that this Psalm is part of a collection of Psalms we call, the fourth book of Psalms put together some time after the return from exile from Babylon by the Jews probably around the time of the building of the second Temple in the early period of what is known as the Intertestamental period said to be around 400 years. The last prophet of the Old Testament is Malachi who wrote his prophecy around 420BC.

Most of the Psalms in the fourth book seem to reflect the return from exile or just before that. However Psalm 103 has a Hebrew heading telling us King David who lived around 600 years before this time wrote it.

The answer to this is that each of the collectors of the books of Psalms seemed to have researched for material for their new collections that were recently written but were written in the past but not yet part of any of the books of Psalms. Psalm 103 could have been a Psalm of David that their research found and therefore this Psalm was finally put into the book of Psalms in the fourth collection.

When did David write this Psalm?

We are not told the answer to this question but some commentators like Spurgeon put forward the argument that it was probably written by David late in his life as Spurgeon writes,

“Doubtless by David, it is in his own style when at its best, and we should attribute it to his later years when he had a higher sense of the preciousness of pardon, because a keener sense of sin, than in his younger days”.

 The Psalm starts with a call to praise God and concludes with a call for praise and what we have in – between is a wonderful catalogue of reasons or benefits for praising the Lord.

With this in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 5)   PERSONAL PRAISE

 

  1. (1 – 2)   A call for personal praise
  2. (3 – 5)   The benefits of knowing the Lord personally

 

  1. (6 – 18) CORPARATE PRAISE

 

  1. (6 – 13)   The benefits of knowing the Lord for his people
  2. (14 – 18) The nature of man contrasted with the nature of God

 

  1. (9 – 22) HEAVENLY AND UNIVERSAL PRAISE

 

  1. (19 – 20) Heavenly praise
  2. (21 – 22) Universal praise

  

  1. (1 – 5)   PERSONAL PRAISE

 

  1. (1 – 2)   A call for personal praise

 David starts with the call,

“Praise the Lord”

 I counted that nine other David psalms start with a call to praise sometimes using other words to do this like Psalm 66 saying “Shout with joy to God” and Psalm 30 saying, “I will exalt you, O Lord”. So David was keen to praise the Lord and also keen that others like us should join him in praise and worship the great God he trusted and believed in.

Paul in the New Testament was also keen on calling the followers of the Lord Jesus to praise their God and savior like Philippians 4: 4, using the words,

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say again, Rejoice”.

 Note how Paul says, “always” and this is made even clearer in his call to praise God in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

 We know Paul practiced what he preached as we see him and Silas in prison in Philippi in acts 16 and verse 25, which says,

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening”.

 What impact this praising of God in a most difficult time had on the other prisoners we do not know but I could imagine they would have been at least scratching their heads wondering what on earth these two men where on to be so joyful in such a dark and terrible place like a first century prison cell.

David’s call for praise in verses 1 and 2 is a personal call because he uses the words,

“O my soul”

 twice and this expression Leupold says represents,

“His entire inner being”

 as the soul in the Old Testament represents our whole personality or our real self.

Why does David call on praise from his inmost being?

The answer lies in the final words of verse 2,

“And forget not his benefits”.

 As I said in the introduction many turn away from God and his message to them because they fear that if it is true and they are convinced to become believers in him they will some how miss out on enjoying life and become somehow trapped in a negative life of narrow thinking and boring living.

The reality is simply, for me, the opposite as it obviously was for David as he spoke of benefits for turning to the Lord and going his way in life. I can testify to the truth that the Christian life is not a life of giving up but rather is a life of taking up and has so many benefits.

Before we move into looking at these benefits of knowing the Lord as David will spell out in the rest of this Psalm I must warn against the false teaching of The Prosperity Gospel. The prosperity gospel or as it is also called, The health and wealth gospel of success teaches that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth.

“Got a question?” web page spells out even further this dangerous teaching with these words,

“The prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer”.

Paul warned Timothy about this type of false teaching that was prevalent even in New Testament times with these words in 1 Timothy 6: 3 – 5,

”If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain”.

Paul goes on to speak of the danger and even the evil of the love of money in verses 6 – 10,

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grief’s”.

Note Paul is not saying money is evil but the love of money and to preach or teach that turning to Christ and going his way will bring certain material gain is falling into the trap of not only miss – understanding the real benefits of knowing God but falling into the trap of loving money and not God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is true that many people who turn away from a sinful life to the Lord will often experience financial gain as a result mainly because they no longer throw their money away in corrupting activities like gambling or living for material things alone but this is a natural by product of the Christian life and not the essence of it.

I remember in my Bible College days going on a mission week in a very poor area of Sydney and speaking to the minister in the church I worked with and he told me that one of the problems he faced was keeping newly converted families in his church and area. He said that many who came to know the Lord in their lives and go his way soon found that their lives were cleaned up so much they were able to save money and also they no longer wanted to live in the slums they had been renting but rather they worked towards building a new home for themselves in a new outer area of the city so they soon moved away.

I would like to suggest that the benefits of knowing the Lord are far more deeper and richer than material gain and involve primarily spiritual benefits as we will see David speak of in the following verses. This kind of benefit is expressed beautifully in Paul’s words in Philippians 4: 12 – 13,

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

  1. (3 – 5)   The benefits of knowing the Lord personally

So at the end of verse 2, David says that he wants to praise the Lord from deep within himself because he did not want to,

“Forget not all his benefits”

Now in verses 3 – 5 he spells out some of the wonderful benefits he experienced from the Lord and in verses 6 – 13 he speaks of the benefits all the people of God know from knowing the Lord in their lives.

I see 6 benefits in these verses:

  1. Forgives (vs. 3a)
  2. Heals (vs. 3b)
  3. Redeems (vs. 4a)
  4. Crowns (vs. 4b)
  5. Satisfies (vs.5a)
  6. Renews (vs. 5b)

Lets then have a closer look at each of these six benefits of knowing the Lord.

  1. Forgives (vs. 3a)

David starts with the fist benefit of knowing the Lord as forgiveness, he writes,

“Who forgives all your sins”

For the non – Christian this might not seem to be much of a benefit for they usually do not recognize they are sinners or that sin is a problem that they need any help with but as Tremper Longman 111 aptly points out,

“Sin creates a barrier between humanity and a holy God, but God will forgive the sin of a contrite heart”.

Longman quotes then from Psalm 51: 17, written by David who is confessing his great sins of adultery and murder to God and in doing so is seeking God’s forgiveness,

“The sacrifice of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”.

Paul makes it clear that we all have a problem with sin when he writes in Romans 3: 23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

David knew what a life changing experience being forgiven of his sins could be when he found the complete forgiveness of God and even as he was finding that he writes in Psalm 51: 13,

“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you”.

Jesus came for one great purpose and that was to die on the cross to win for us the forgiveness of sins as 1 Peter 3: 18 says,

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit”.

Of course we must repent of our sins to be able to accept the forgiveness God offers through Christ and his death for us as Jesus stresses in Luke 5: 31 – 32,

“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

This week I read a request for prayer and advice on Face book by a young youth pastor who graduated from the same bible College I attended years ago who now is in the US working as a youth pastor in a church there and who is having problems by some local teens from the church refusing to come while he continues to teach the need for repentance as they believe there is no necessity for repentance for salvation because grace is free.

It is true that repentance alone does not save us as it is the death of Jesus on the cross that does that but to be able to receive God’s free gift of forgiveness we must first turn away from sin and turn to God and ask Jesus to forgive us and he will as John says in 1 John 1:8 – 9,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.

Repentance also involves admitting we are sinners and need God’s forgiveness and this is a teaching found right through the New Testament and particularly in the Gospels and that was my advice to the young youth worker to take these young people through a Gospel in bible study like the Gospel of Mark.

How the forgiveness of sins is a great benefit is seen first and foremost in establishing a relationship with God which then has many wonderful benefits like meaning and purpose in life and inner peace which Paul speaks of in Philippians 4: 7,

“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding”

This makes God’s forgiveness a life changing benefit that cannot be qualified.

  1. Heals (vs. 3b)

We come then to probably the most controversial benefit David states he has in God which he expresses as,

“And heals all your diseases”

Taken on face value this seems to say believers in God will be healed of all diseases as a benefit of their faith in God. However we know that this simply does not happen in life as Christians have and will die of all sorts of diseases. The extreme charismatic Christians will argue that God does heal or cure all diseases if we have enough faith to believe so.

However this type of teaching puts the emphasis on our faith as the power and force that heals when the bible says that only God’s power heals as even this verse implies through the word “who” at the start of verse 3.

A good Christian friend of mine worked for many years with a extreme charismatic Christian who took the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 53: 5 literally when it says,

“”By his wounds we are healed”

The problem was this man, sadly suffered from an incurables illness that could be managed by modern medicine but he refused to take the medicine instead believing in this phrase from Isaiah 53: 5. As he got progressively sicker the man told my friend he was not healed because his faith was simply not good or big enough and he not only suffered physically but spiritually because of this incorrect teaching.

The truth is that in the context of Isaiah 53 the words,

”By his wounds we are healed”

Is referring to our spiritual state, our need for the healing of the soul sick with the consequences of sin as the first part of verse 5 says,

“But he was pieced for our transgressions he was crushed for our iniquities”.

So returning to the second benefit David speaks of namely,

“And heals all your diseases”

I go for the interpretation of this phrase that commentators like John Gill opt for as he says in these words,

“Spiritual diseases, or soul maladies, are here meant; the same with “iniquities” in the preceding clause”.

 It is sin, the great disease of the heart of every man and women that David is speaking of healing from here. Not that God cannot and does not heal a Christian of a serious disease for his glory to be declared to our world but all physical diseases always healed by God for the believer is not what David is speaking of here in Psalm 103 verse 3.

The benefits of this spiritual disease being healed, the disease of sin in the soul does have many outcomes and amazingly many physical diseases are healed when a person comes to Christ as they turn away from sins like drunkenness or sexual immorality.

Turning away from these sinful activities can commence physical healing as that person comes to Christ and stops or at least begins to stop such soul and body destroying activities.

Paul says this about the effect of truly coming to Christ in 2 Corinthians 5: 17,

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come”. 

  1. Redeems (vs. 4a)

The third benefit of personally knowing God in our lives is in verse 4a,

“Who redeems your life from the pit”

Some commentators have suggested that this could mean the writer, who we believe is David is speaking of literally being saved from death or “pit” and pit is usually a term for the grave in the Old Testament. However this also could be more in the spiritual sense that through God’s forgiveness of sins his cure of our spiritual diseased soul’s will save him from the grave or pit a fate that comes to all men and women. He is redeemed or God has paid the debt that sins brings because of it, as we will see later in the great statement of God’s in verses 11 and 12.

This would be in line with what Paul says in Romans 6: 23,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Many might argue that David writing in the Old Testament could not have had such a great hope in being redeemed by God from death but David declares in Psalm 23: 6,

“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.

Even other writers of the Psalms had a sure hope like David of life beyond the grave, like the Son of Korah who wrote in Psalm 49: 15,

“But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself”.

This is a very similar thought to what David wrote in this verse in Psalm 103.

We of course have a much surer hope of eternal life through the redemptive work of God’s son Jesus Christ and this hope after death comes wonderfully through a verse like John 5: 24,

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life”.

Jesus made it very clear that he came to redeem us from our sins and we see this in a verse like John 10: 45,

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

  1. Crowns (vs. 4b)

David then uses a beautiful and powerful image to convey the benefits of God’s love and compassion for a true believer, that of a crown, he writes,

“And crowns you with love and compassion”

 Albert Barnes best unlocks this poetic image of being crowned with these words,

“The idea here is not merely that God is the source of these blessings, but that there is something of beauty, of dignity, of honor, as in the conferring of a crown or garland on anyone”.

 David as king was crowned to become king and all kings and queens have all through history had the same thing done to them but here God crowns us with his love and compassion. We are so special to God that he treats us all as his crowned kings and queens.

The New Testament goes much further than this as it speaks of all true believers not just being crowned by God through Christ but reigning with him in heaven, 2 Timothy 2: 12,

 “If we endure, we will also reign with him”.

Also Revelation 20: 6,

“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him”.

 How can this be a benefit for a person who knows the Lord?

Well it is of course a great future hope but it also has many implications for us now in this life. Mainly it means we know a God in our lives who really loves and cares for us and like a king or queen we are treated with special attention and blessings if we turn in repentance and faith to him.

Here is just one more New Testament passage that speaks of our future hope in Christ having impact on our lives today, it is found in Pauls special prayer to God for the Ephesians in Ephesians 1: 15 -23,

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”.

What glorious benefits we enjoy through the love and compassion of God through his son Jesus Christ he truly has crowned us with his love and many blessings. These blessings are far more valuable and everlasting than earthly riches or fame and those who cheapen the benefits of knowing the love of God with the false promise of earthly riches are sadly not only wrong but are leading many to miss out on the far more wonderful riches we have in Christ.

  1. Satisfies (vs.5a)

The personal benefits we have in knowing God continue to roll on in verse 5 and in verse 5a we read these words,

“Who satisfies your desires with good things”

This benefit of satisfaction again must be viewed in spiritual terms as all other benefits so far have been. Spurgeon puts it this way,

“No man is ever filled to ratification but a believer, and only God himself can satisfy even him. Many a worldling is satiated but not one is satisfied’.

People seek after earthly riches and in my country people are bombarded with the message that material riches will make them really happy or satisfied in life. People spend hundreds of dollars a year on lotto or other get quick rich activities but the sad reality is many so called rich happy people are still miserable even in their fancy houses, cars and boats.

Many years ago I visited on behalf of a church I was working for a very rich resident of that area. This family was one of the original landowners of that part of Sydney and their family name is linked with a famous person in the early colony of Sydney. The women who now owned that property with her husband sat me down with a nice cup of tea in what I could only describe as a mansion. My eyes were popping out my head as I drank my tea and as I looked around. Then the lady who owned the house said to me, “You might think owning this house and having the famous name we have would bring you happiness but let me tell you honestly they have only given me and my husband nothing but unhappiness”.

God satisfies us deeply and that satisfaction is not built on material things like lots of money, houses, boats etc. but is the deep and wonderful satisfaction of the soul as we read of in Psalm 107: 9,

“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”

And as Jesus says in John 6: 35,

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty”.

Jesus is clearly speaking of spiritual hunger and thirst as he was speaking against people who wanted him to continue to give them physical food like he had just done in the feeding of the five thousand people.

This spiritual hunger is what the rich lady in that suburb of Sydney I visited years ago is speaking of.

Even if it seems that earthly riches has given someone earthly happiness we know that this so called happiness is very temporary as Jesus pointed out in the parable of the rich fool, Luke 12: 18 – 20,

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

Jesus goes on to say in the next verse,

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God”.

The old saying is “you cannot take it with you” applies for those who think, earthly riches is the road to real happiness and satisfaction.

No the real benefit of knowing God is that deep and inner peace Paul spoke of in Philippians 4: 7,

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

This peace translates into Paul’s statement of his satisfaction later in that same letter a few verses on, 11 – 13,

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

This promise of real and deep spiritual satisfaction is yet another point of praise we should offer to God every day of our lives.

  1. Renews (vs. 5b)

Finally David rounds off these benefits of knowing the Lord personally with these words in vs. 5b,,

“So that your youth is renewed like the eagle”.

I am no longer considered a “Youth” as I am now considered a senior citizen and if David wrote this Psalm later in his life as some commentators have suggested then he too is writing these words as a senior citizen of Israel.

So what is David saying when he speaks of his youth being renewed by God?

To understand this we must yet again remind ourselves that these words come from the Psalms, which are poetry so we cannot interpret them literally. All the ideas in this phrase from the Psalm are poetic images and must be interpreted likewise.

So the first poetic image is,

“Your youth is renewed”

This is not hard to interpret as we all look to our younger days as the days we had vitality, energy and life. At a recent bible study, which is full of people my age and older one lady speaking about being old said, “I am a 18 year old trapped in a 80 year old body”. Its true I don’t see myself as being old and I am the same person in many ways as I was at 18 but I am now in my late 60’s.

However even though God cannot take us back to enjoy the young bodies we had at 18 he can and does, spiritually, promise to renew us like being young again in our souls. Like another Psalmist named Asaph asked in his chorus for his song, Psalm 80 in verses 3, 7 and 19,

“Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved”.

Spiritual restoration is the great theme of Psalm 80 and I think what David is asking for in verse 5b in Psalm 103 is spiritual restoration with the words,

“So that your youth is renewed”

He wants his faith and commitment in God to be strong and vital again like our bodies are at 18. However like the song says, “I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger”, I would not swap my knowledge and wisdom with any 18 year old any day. I believe God has made his church full of people who are both young and old as together we can achieve so much. The younger have the drive and enthusiasm and the older members have the wisdom and knowledge.

Then David makes it clear what he wants with the second poetic image that says,

“Like the eagle”

All of the commentators I read spoke of the eagle being in Old Testament times a symbol of strength and vitality and this again I believe is spiritual strength and vitality and is expressed so well in the famous reference to a eagle in Isaiah 40: 30 and 31,

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

Maybe Isaiah knew David’s Psalm and gained inspiration from it but he speaks of youth as well as gaining renewed strength from God like a souring eagle so magnificent in flight.

Maybe there is a hint of physical renewal in both references and as I referred to earlier when you feel like an 18 year old trapped in an 80 years old body maybe physical renewal of any kind is just what you really desire.

The discussion at the bible study of seniors I attended when what it feels like to be old or aging was discussed a very encouraging sharing of the promise of God in the New Testament of a new body. And new body given to us when we rise in the great resurrection when Christ returns which Paul describes this way in 1 Corinthians 15: 50 – 55,

“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

 For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”[

This is a great benefit and hope not only for aging people with frail sickly bodies but anyone who’s body is failing at any age as we all will be given new and wonderful bodies in heaven and that is something we all should praise God for.

  1. (6 – 18) CORPARATE PRAISE
  1. (6 – 13)   The benefits of knowing the Lord for his people

So David has listed in three short verses six wonderful personal benefits of knowing the Lord which he says we should praise the Lord for from the depths of our being, and now he moves to speak of six benefits we have as God’s people, the church that we should also praise God for.

These six benefits God gives his people, Israel –the Church are:

  1. Works righteousness and justice (vs. 6)
  2. Makes known his ways (vs. 7)
  3. Treats us with compassion and grace (vs. 8)
  4. Does not treat us as we deserve (verses 9 and 10)
  5. Loves us with a immeasurable love (verses 11 – 12)
  6. Loves us like a father loves his children (vs. 13)

Lets now have a closer look at each of these six wonderful benefits God gives his people.

  1. Works righteousness and justice (vs. 6)

Before we launch into the benefits of God’s people knowing the Lord I must first say that I believe that when I speak about God’s people I not talking about ancient Israel alone or even the Jews today but rather because of what Jesus did on the cross for people of every and any nation I am talking about God’s people in Christ, his church.

A key passage that sets up this way of seeing who God’s people are is Galatians 3: 26 – 29,

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”.

Paul had to write to the Galatians as they were yet another church that was under attack from probably well meaning Jewish Christians who wanted the non- Jewish believers to adopt the Jewish laws and traditions as well as believing in Christ for salvation. Paul rightly saw the error of these Jewish Christians as what I call the Jesus plus way of salvation when it is Jesus alone that saves us as Jesus clearly teaches in John 14: 6,

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

Paul and other disciples of Jesus like John and Peter knew that the only way we are saved into God’s family or Kingdom is through Jesus death and resurrection. If Paul and the early disciples had not fought this battle in the first century the Christian church or even its saving Gospel message would have been lost and Christianity would have just been swallowed up into Judaism as a forgotten religious oddity of the first century.

So we along with Jews and any other person from any other nation who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are as Paul calls in Galatians 6: 16, The Israel of God,

“Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God”.

Some Christian commentators refuse to believe that Paul in this verse is not speaking of the church as “The Israel of God” but Jewish converts but to argue this is to argue against the whole central message of the letter to the Galatians that we are all now in God’s kingdom or family because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone no matter what nation of earth we claim to belong to even the Jewish nation.

So the first benefit of belonging to God’s family or Kingdom is found in verse 6,

“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed”.

God working righteousness and justice for his people, which David calls, “the oppressed” is seen right through the bible and even in what Jesus did for us on the cross. Jesus died for our sins on the cross for those who put their faith and trust in him and this act of righteousness and justice, as Jesus paid for our sins, opened up a way for us into heaven. It also caused the defeat of Satan the oppressor as we see in John 12: 31 – 32,

“ Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

We see God working righteousness and judgement for his people the oppressed in the account of God freeing his people, Israel from slavery in Egypt where the oppressor, Pharaoh is defeated like Satan is defeated by Jesus on the Cross to free all men and women who are slaves to sin if they turn and accept his offer of forgiveness for their sins through Christ and his death for them.

This great escape from Egypt we will see is in David’s mind as he wrote Psalm 103 in the next benefits God’s people enjoy and should praise God for.

  1. Makes known his ways (vs. 7)

In verse 7, David makes it clear he has Moses and the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the law soon after that at Mt Sinai in mind with the words,

“He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel”

Maybe David even has a particular event in mind here that happened at Mt Sinai recorded in Exodus 33: 13,

 “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

God answers Moses request with the 10 Commandments and all the laws God gives Moses for the ancient people of Israel. These laws become a major part of God’s word to us, “his ways” and so the great benefit for God’s people in this verse is the very word of God.

Peter makes it clear that what men like Moses brought to us in declaring God’s ways or word was not the will of man but the will of God inspired by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 20 – 21,

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.

The greatest of revelations from God when he makes known his ways is of course the word of God become flesh, as John puts it in John 1: 14,

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

God’s word that teaches us God’s ways then is a wonderful benefit we have from knowing the Lord and we should praise him continually for that from the depths of our being daily.

  1. Treats us with compassion and grace (vs. 8)

David with the people of Israel at the foot of Mt Sinai in mind now draws on famous words spoken by God in Exodus 34: 6 – 7a,

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin”.

This is a special revelation of God given to Moses as God passed before him as he hid his face from the spectacular glory of God.

So in verse 8 of Psalm 103 David writes,

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love”.

 This is the unique characteristic of the God of the bible so much unlike the alternative human inspired religious view of God that sees God as something other than a God of love.

Ancient Israel had no right to claim they deserved God’s love because even as Moses first went to the Mount Sinai to represent them before God they had turned away from the God of the bible and set up a golden calf to worship instead of the great yet invisible God of the entire universe.

Yet God continued to love them and the key word in this verse that presents the fourth great benefit of knowing the Lord is the word, “graciousness”.

Allan Harman writes,

“His grace gives them what they do not deserve – unmerited favour”.

 The grace of God is seen so clearly in the act of God in the New Testament in sending his only son into the world to die for our sins on the cross and Paul spoke heaps about this in all of his letters like Ephesians 1; 6 – 9,

“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,

In Ephesians 2 Paul makes it clear that we have been saved and are part of God’s people, the church not because of anything we have done but because of the grace of God alone, Ephesians 2: 4 – 10,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

So the fourth benefit we have through knowing God in our lives is his love and grace which also should cause us to praise God from our inner most being every day of our lives.

  1. Does not treat us as we deserve (verses 9 and 10)

David still has, I believe the words of Exodus 34: 6 – 7a in mind in verses 9 and 10 and particularly the words of verse 7a that says,

“Forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin”.

Maybe he has his own experience of God in mind as well when he writes in verses 9 and 10,

“He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities”.

 Remember David had committed adultery and murder and both these sins deserved death yet David turned to God in repentance and faith and was forgiven so God did not harbor his anger towards David and did not deserve or repay him according to his great iniquities.

All through Israel’s history the bible presents this amazing fact that even though they continually failed to truly trust and believe in God and in fact often committed great sin or iniquities God’s anger did not last and he took his people back out of his love and compassion for them.

Such is the love of God that he was willing to send his only son into the world to pay for all our iniquities as the great prophet foretold in Isaiah 53: 4 – 5,

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed”.

This too is yet another great benefit we have in knowing the Lord in our lives that deserves great praise.

  1. Loves us with a immeasurable love (verses 11 – 12)

David returns to the great benefit of the love of God and attempts to describe its dimensions with the words of verses 11 and 12,

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”.

The measure David has for God’s love is immeasurable as it is as high as the heavens are from the earth and we know today that the heavens or space is endless. As far as east is from west which again is another poetic picture of endlessness or infinity. God’s love is as the old children’s chorus puts it,

Wide, wide as the ocean

High as the heavens above,

Deep, deep as the deepest sea

Is my Saviours love.

The chorus goes on to say:

I am so unworthy

Still I am a child of his care

For his word teaches me

That his love reaches me

Everywhere.

Paul speaks of this vast and wonderful love of God in Ephesians 3: 17 – 19,

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.

David knew this deep and wide love of God and his experience of particularly being forgiven by God for the sins of adultery and murder. This gave David experiential knowledge of the benefits of knowing the great and wonderful love of God which he never stopped thanking God for throughout his life.

  1. Loves us like a father loves his children (vs. 13)

Finally David gives a sixth great benefit of his people, the people of God knowing God in their lives and is expressed this way in verse 13,

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him”.

David uses a real and familiar poetic image of how God loves his people who fear or who show reverence to him namely the relationship of a father to a son. David loved his son Absalom so much that even after his son had turned against him and even tried to destroy him and the rest of his family David still loved him.

We see this in the description of David’s reaction to the death of his son Absalom in 2 Samuel 18: 33,

“The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”

David knew first hand how he still loved his son Absalom was disobedient and hateful to him but he also knew that God’s love for him and his people was far greater than a human’s fathers love for his children and Albert Barnes describes it this way,

“An infinitely higher degree, is the compassion – the kindness – which God has for those that love him”.

 Jesus told a wonderful parable about a fathers infinite love for his lost son in Luke 15 and the fathers reaction and words to his lost sons return mirror the love God has for us when we turn around to truly believe in him, Luke 15: 22 – 24,

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate”.

Such is God’s love for us that we read in the famous verse, John 3: 16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Jesus makes it clear that not only is God like a father to us, he is now our heavenly father and we should addressing as such as he says in the Lords prayer in Mathew 6: 9,

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”.

Finally Paul taught that this benefit of knowing God is made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit in the true believers heart in Romans 8: 15 – 17,

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory”.

So we have seen now twelve great benefits of knowing the Lord but note David has emphasized that these benefits belong to those who “fear him” vs. 11, 13, 17, obey his precepts vs. 18 and obey his word vs. 20. So these benefits are only for those who seek to serve and obey the Lord who they now fear or revere.

  1. (14 – 18) The nature of man contrasted with the nature of God

This list of 12 benefits of knowing the Lord, six personal and six corporate is then brought to a end with five verses about the nature of God and man. Why this comes after the benefits of knowing the Lord are presented is found I believe in the opening words of verse 14,

“For he knows”

 We might say for God knows just what we are like especially compared to him and this is a reason why he as decided to give us these benefits out of his love for us.

We might decide to hold the hand of our young children as they walk along side a busy road because we know what they are like as little children or we might stop ourselves watching a type of movie or television show because we know what we are like because that type of movie or show has a bad or negative influence on us. So God shows us love and grace and is slow to anger because he knows what we are really like.

So what does David say God knows about us to give us his benefits of love and grace?

These five verses 14 – 18 tell us two things God’s knows about us in contrast to one contrasting thing about him and then finally confirms his love for those who obey his precepts or law or word.

So in this second part of the second section of this Psalm we will look at:

  1. How we are made of dust (vs. 14)
  2. How we are mortal beings (vs. 15 – 16)
  3. How God is immortal (vs. 17a)
  4. How God loves us because of this (vs. 17b – 18)

Lets have a close look at each of these four things:

  1. How we are made of dust (vs. 14)

God loves us first of all because of what we are, namely weak mortal beings made from dust. I looked up on Wikipedia the trace elements of the human body and this is what it said,

Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. All 11 are necessary for life. The remaining elements are trace elements, of which more than a dozen are thought on the basis of good evidence to be necessary for life. All of the mass of the trace elements put together (less than 10 grams for a human body) do not add up to the body mass of magnesium, the least common of the 11 non-trace elements.

 All these elements are found in the earth so when verse 14 of this Psalm says,

For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust”.

This verse is speaking about a fact even science today speaks of but of course much of science does not agree that it was God who Genesis 2: 7,

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”

Science might not recognize this but God knows how he made us and David says God remembers how he made us and he knows what we are like, weak, frail and fragile beings.

  1. How we are mortal beings (vs. 15 – 16)

With the first idea of our makeup in mind David goes on to speak of how because we are dust we are mortal beings with a very limited life span, verses 15 – 16,

“As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more”.

God sees that we are made from dust and then he places in David’s mind because of this we live very short fragile lives. We have seen before this image of man being like grass in Psalm 37: 2, 90:5, 102: 11 and it is used also in Isaiah 40: 6 and again in the New Testament in 1 Peter 1: 24- 25. This image of grass is used in the Old Testament and the New for the fleeting nature of grass, which in the hot dry Middle East climate is gone very quickly especially when a hot dry wind blows over it.

Life does seem short and I can appreciate this especially now when I am in my late sixties. I have now seen many peoples passing some after 70 to 80 years others much shorter than that. My view is that if there is no God and hope therefore after death than life is really just a cruel short not so funny joke.

However God sees the shortness of our lives and in the next verse we will see he loves us and brings us hope in face of life’s fleeting shortness.

  1. How God is immortal (vs. 17a)

Before we see the hope God has for us we have at the start of verse 17 a statement about the nature of God compared to us,

“But from everlasting to everlasting”

God is not like us he is from everlasting to everlasting or he is eternal he has existed and he will always exist. This was the revelation Moses had of God at the burning bush in Exodus 3: 14 when God revealed his special name to Moses which states his special unique nature,

 “God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Jesus because he shares in the nature of the complex God head also has this characteristic of eternity and this is why in Johns Gospel seven times he refers to himself with the title, “I am” and this is what is meant by what John says about Jesus in Revelation 1: 8,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the almighty”.

I think one of the problems current modern thinking has about God creating the universe is they limit their thinking to only the material world and dismiss God as just a oversize man who is a myth. God is beyond this physical whelm and is different than man as he is eternal, he is immortal whie we are mortal and he had no beginning while we had a beginning and in this life a end.

  1. How God loves us because of this (vs. 17b – 18)

Then we see the hope in face of our mortality and shortness of life in the words of verse 17b and 18,

“The Lord’s love is with those who fear him. And his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts”.

David gives his own quote of God’s promise of his covenantal love from Exodus 20: 6,

“ But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandment”.

David knew his bible and I imagine as King he would have had total access to all of the scrolls that contained what was considered God’s word up to the time of his life as king almost 1,000 years before the coming of God’s word becoming flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.

From the first five books of the bible also known as the Torah, or law to Jews like David, David knew the great hope God offered in his covenant of love. He knew that this promise of God’s love was only for those who feared and obeyed the Lord. This promise of God’s love for generation to generation gave his short fragile life hope and meaning.

We have a greater promise of God’s love and the book of Hebrews has much to say about the greater hope of new covenant and we see something of this in Hebrews 7: 22 – 25,

“Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them”.

Note in this reference the greater value and permanence of this new covenant because of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. The writer of the book of Hebrews brings to a end his thoughts on the New Covenant Jesus has brought to us with these concluding remarks about it in Hebrews 13: 20 – 21,

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”.

  1. (9 – 22) HEAVENLY AND UNIVERSAL PRAISE

David completes his list of personal and corporate benefits with this reminder of God’s promise of covenant love and he is saying because of all these benefits God has given us we should praise and worship God with all of these things in our minds and hearts.

Now he looks beyond himself and his people or Nation to heaven itself and then all of creation for even more praise for this great God of love and grace. So we will now look at David’s call for heavenly praise and then his call for universal praise.

  1. (19 – 20) Heavenly praise

In verse 19 David lifts his eyes or gaze to heaven and speaks of God sitting on his throne and reigning in heaven in verse 19,

“The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”

 These words remind me of my study of Psalms 93 – 100 which I called “Our God the king who reigns” Psalms and in the first one of these we read in the first two verses of Psalm 93,

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity”.

Even though David wrote this Psalm long before it was placed finally in the fourth book of Psalms around the time of the return from exile in Babylon his words would have given the people of the post return from exile period great hope as they no longer had a king in Israel but they had a far greater king than even David himself as he was the king who reigns supreme over everything and everyone in heaven.

David saw that he was under a great king and his praise was for that king who sits in heaven and who rules or reigns over everyone and everything.

We have the same king who we know so much more about as we know that the Lord Jesus Christ was the fulfilment of the promised David king who will reign over every thing and everyone forever now from heaven as we read about in book of Revelation, like Revelation 11: 15,

 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

 Note in this verse in the book of Revelation it is and angel who sounds the trumpet and it is probably Angels who speak the message of the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven and it is angels who David calls upon to join in his praise for the benefits of knowing the Lord in verse 20,

“Praise the Lord, you angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word”.

 It seems that the angels are special higher created beings who serve God in heaven sometimes give the job of sending a special message to one of God’s chosen people like Daniel and Abraham and many other men and women in the bible.

The angels however seem to have the primary task in heaven of singing God’s praises and leading the worship of him in heaven.

We read a lot about the angels in heaven in the book of Revelation as we saw in that quote from Revelation 11: 15 but what about what we read in Revelation 5: 11 – 12,

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

 It seems strange that David is calling on the Angels to do what they do anyway without reminder or prompting but maybe David is speaking like he is in verse 20 in that he wants to join even the angels in praise of his God who has given him so many benefits through knowing him.

Note also that even the Angels in heaven have to obey God’s word and it seems that this was the downfall of Satan and a group of angels he led. Satan and these Angels turned away from obeying God’s word as we see from Isaiah 14: 12 – 15, Satan, here called “Son of the Dawn”, sought to make himself God breaking the law and word of God that God alone is God,

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit”.

Satan continues even to this day to lead a rebellion against God but his days are numbered and Jesus has defeated him on the cross but unto Christ returns his complete destruction and judgement like everyone’s will not happen unto Christ returns a second time to judge all of creation.

The warning is clear if one of the Angels can fall because he did not obey the expressed word of God than we must make sure we do not follow his example but like the majority of the Angels live to praise the Lord and do his bidding and obey his word.

  1. (21 – 22) Universal praise

 So David inspired by the Holy Spirit has offered up deep and sincere praise for the benefits of knowing the Lord personally and corporately as part of God’s special people which I believe is now the Church of Jesus Christ, all those from any and every nation who call on the name of the Lord Jesus to be save. He then calls on the Angels to join this great song of and now I believe David calls on all creation to join this song of universal praise.

There are a number of ways of interpreting just who or what David is calling upon to join him in praise in verse 21, which reads,

“Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will”.

There are three ways of interpreting just who “all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will” actually are.

The first is this is describing the Angels in heaven already asked to join in this great song of praise. The Angels as a number of times in the Old Testament the Angels are described as “the hosts” of God, like 1 Kings 22: 19,

“Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left”.

This would mean David is repeating his call for the Angels to join him in praising God for the benefits of knowing and serving him.

The second interpretation of the term, “all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will” is that heavenly hosts are God’s created celestial bodies he created spoken of as “hosts” or “array” in Deuteronomy 4: 19. The idea of these innate heavenly bodies praising God is found in verses like 1 Chronicles 16: 31 when David declares,

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations “The Lord reigns”.

A verse also found in Psalm 96 a Psalm adapted from David’s Psalm recorded in 1 Chronicles 16.

This would mean David is widening his call for praise to the creation itself that he declares in Psalm 19 verse 1 it does continually,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

The only problem with this interpretation is how does the phrase, “you servants who do his will”, fit in to this interpretation?

It has been suggested that God placed the sun, moon and stars in place for a purpose and therefore they are his servants in nature to do his will”.

The third and final interpretation is that David has in mind both Angels and celestial bodies in mind which we see combined in Psalm 148: 2 – 6,

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever— he issued a decree that will never pass away”.

Even if David is calling only on Angels again in verse 21 he certainly widens his call for praise of the God who gives us so much benefits in the first part of verse 22,

“Praise the Lord all his works everywhere in his dominion”.

All his works is everything he has created, earth, stars, angels and of course man. All of us are designed and made as instruments of praise and worship as the first question of the famous Westminster shorter catechism asks and answers,

  1. What is the chief end of man?

 Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. One of the many scriptures this catechism offers to support this is Pauls declaration in 1 Corinthians 10: 31,

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

All of God’s creation, rightly in tune with his good will and purpose should and does praise the Lord and this is the idea behind David’s call for a universal praise of God in verse 22 of this Psalm.

David then finishes as he started with the last words of his Psalm 103 the same as the first words of this Psalm,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul”.

David wants to praise God so he makes sure we get his great desire to do so. David had so many benefits from knowing his Lord and even though he called on the Angels and everyone and everything in this world and the next to praise his God he wants us to know that he wants above all to praise the Lord who he owed so much to.

May we all join David in praising the Lord knowing that this is our calling in Christ as Paul states in Ephesians 1: 11 – 12,

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory”.

I close as usual with an original poem and prayer:

PRAISE THE LORD O MY SOUL

(Based on Psalm 103)

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

And forget not the benefits of knowing the Lord.

He for gives my sins and heals my soul

He redeems my life and makes us whole

He crowns my life with love so true

He satisfies my desires and makes me new.

He helps me rise like an eagle in the sky

In God I’m renewed and in him I’ll fly.

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

God makes things right for those who obey his word.

The Lord makes his word known to us

He shows his way to those who trust.

The Lord has compassion and grace to all

Who revere his name and answer his call

His wonderful love is so high and wide

He cares like a father who helps and guides.

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

For God knows we’re weak and our lives are flawed.

He remembers that we are made of dust

One day we’re here and the next we’re lost.

But the Lord is eternal and is always near

To those who he loves who have healthy fear.

And he will always bless us with love

For his son came to die from heaven above.

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

May God’s Angels praise him in one accord.

For God sits in heaven and there he reigns

Surrounded by angels who praise his name.

So may all the heavens the stars and the earth

Give praise to the God who gave them birth.

For the Lord is in charge of every thing

May my soul rejoice as may my lips now sing.

 

Praise the Lord all my soul

May all that’s within me praise the Lord

Praise the Lord all my soul

And forget not the benefits of knowing the Lord.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Dear father in heaven I praise your great and glorious name for you have given me so much. You made me and the world I live in, you saved me from my sins through your sons death on the cross and you continue to renew and guide me in this life. I thank you that you have called me to be part of your great family and I join with your Angels in heaven giving praise to your wonderful love and justice. In Jesus name I pray Amen.