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Praise of God for His Work in the Kingdom of Nature.
The psalmist, probably David, as in the preceding psalm, celebrates the glory of God in the works of His creation and providence.
v. 1. Bless the Lord, O my soul, a powerful self-encouragement, like in the preceding psalm. O Lord, my God, Thou art very great, full of royal splendor and majestic glory; Thou art clothed with honor and majesty, these constituting the royal garment visible in all parts of the created universe;
v. 2. who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment, shining forth in the light of His creation with His eternal power and Godhead. Genesis 1:3-5; who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain, the firmament of the visible heavens being considered a tent-curtain reflecting His glory, Genesis 1:6-8; Genesis 40:22;
v. 3. who layest the beams of His chambers in the waters, the upper rooms of God's dwelling being regarded as founded on the waters beyond the firmament; who maketh the clouds His chariot, when He comes forth to bless with His rain and to threaten and destroy with His thunder and lightning, Isaiah 19:1; who walketh upon the wings of the wind, in a glorious manifestation of His power;
v. 4. who maketh His angels spirits, His own messengers being present in the blessing and destroying power of the winds; His ministers a flaming fire, for they are active in and through the forces of nature, they are vehicles of God's creative energy;
v. 5. who laid the foundations of the earth, establishing its pillars, a poetic mode of expression, to denote the stability of the earth as suspended freely in space, Job 26:7; Job 38:4, that it should not be removed forever, until the Lord Himself would choose to make the change toward a new heaven and a new earth.
v. 6. Thou coveredst it with the deep, with the waters of the original chaos, over which the Spirit of God moved at the time of creation, Genesis 1:2, as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
v. 7. At Thy rebuke they fled, when His command separated the sea from the dry land; at the voice of Thy thunder they hasted away.
v. 8. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which Thou hast founded for them, literally, "Up rose mountains, down sank valleys to the place which Thou didst establish for them," all this being done on that great third day of creation, Genesis 1:9; for the mountains are as old as the earth and the waters, which originally covered it.
v. 9. Thou hast set a bound, fixed them a definite boundary, that they may not pass over, that they turn not again to cover the earth, Job 38:8-11; Jeremiah 5:22.
v. 10. He sended the springs into the valleys, their source being in the mountains above, which run, have their regular course, among the hills, in the brooks and rivers.
v. 11. They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild asses quench their thirst.
v. 12. By them, that is, along their course, shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches, literally, "out from between the branches they give their voice. "
v. 13. He watered the hills from His chambers, from His habitation above the firmament, in abundant rains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Thy works, the rain causing every form of vegetation to grow and mature in its season.
v. 14. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle and herb, food plants of every kind, for the service of man, so that they may cultivate them and enjoy their fruits; that He may bring forth food out of the earth, by the blessings of His rain,
v. 15. And wine, that maketh glad the heart of man, its proper use always being spoken of with approval in Holy Writ, and oil to make his face to shine, on account of the increased nutritive value which it gives to foods, and bread which strengthened man's heart, giving vigor and energy to man, these three, grain for bread, wine, and oil, being considered the chief articles of food in the Orient.
v. 16. The trees of the Lord, the poet probably having in mind especially the cedars of Lebanon, are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted;
v. 17. where the birds make their nests; as for the stork, or the heron, the fir-trees, or the cypresses, are her house.
v. 18. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats, called, for that reason, the mountain-goats, and the rocks for the conies, probably the rock-badger, a marmotlike animal, which has its home in rocky places.
v. 19. He appointed the moon for seasons, to measure the seasons of the year; the sun knoweth his going down, as originally established by the Lord, Genesis 1:14.
v. 20. Thou makest darkness, and it is night, the night following upon day by His providential rule; wherein all the beasts of the forest, the beasts of prey, which spend the day in their dens, do creep forth.
v. 21. The young lions roar after their prey, as they seek their food, and seek their meat from God, who gave them the instinct to hunt for their food in this manner.
v. 22. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, withdrawing from the open spaces where they are in danger of meeting men, and lay them down in their dens.
v. 23. Man goeth forth unto his work, the day being allotted to him, and to his labor until the evening. Cf Job 24:5; Job 37:8; Job 38:40. In the next section of the psalm the poet summarizes the miracles of God in the sea.
v. 24. O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all, being guided in His creative activity by His infinite all-wisdom; the earth is full of Thy riches, of His creatures.
v. 25. So is this great and wide sea, spreading out so far, to the distant horizon, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
v. 26. There go the ships, man venturing out on the ocean depths in pursuing his commercial activities; there is that leviathan, some sea-monster, probably the whale, whom Thou hast made to play therein.
v. 27. These, all the millions of creatures, wait all upon Thee, looking to the providence of God, that Thou mayest give them their meat, the food which they need, in due season, at the proper time.
v. 28. That Thou givest them they gather, from the various places where it is provided; Thou openest Thine hand, they are filled with good, plentifully supplied with all they need.
v. 29. Thou hidest Thy face, refusing, for a time, to recognize and supply their need, they are troubled, terrified, immediately feeling themselves forsaken; Thou takest away their breath, depriving them of what they need to sustain their life; they die and return to their dust, Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 12:14.
v. 30. Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, the Holy Spirit, as active in the work of creation, Genesis 1:3, they are created, and Thou renewest the face of the earth, with every new generation of creatures.
v. 31. The glory of the Lord shall endure forever, as manifested in His work of creation; the Lord shall rejoice in His works, as He did when He found them very good, Genesis 1:31.
v. 32. He looketh on the earth, with a frown of anger, and it trembleth, in fear of His punishment; He toucheth the hills, and they smoke, set on fire at His will. Thus God could glorify His power in destruction if He so chose; therefore it is best for the believers to spend their lives in grateful praise of Him.
v. 33. I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
v. 34. My meditation of Him, in considering all the miracles of His mercy and power, shall be sweet, acceptable to the Lord; I will be glad in the Lord. The same fine relation, according to the psalmist, ought to obtain everywhere, those who refuse to enter into fellowship with Jehovah being punished forever.
v. 35. Let the sinners, those who refuse Him faith and service, be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the Lord, O my soul, the final self-admonition of the psalmist. Praise ye the Lord, or, "Hallelujah!" giving full expression to the emotions of the poet, and calling upon the Church of God of all ages to join him in his hymn of praise.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Psalms 104". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent