Daybreak: Psalm 104:1-35
“Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.” (Psalm 104:1-2)
“Look at the sky, kids!” Dad exclaimed, drawing our attention to the heavenly scene. Leaving our car and heading toward the house after returning from church, we paused in the yard for as long as our little fingers and toes could stand the cold and gazed at the brilliant light show in the heavens. It was a cold, clear autumn night, and the sky to the north was vibrantly alive with swirls of color — a shining curtain of light that was never the same for more than a few moments.
This single detail of God’s creation, the aurora borealis (or Northern Lights), is caused by a complicated set of interactions between the solar wind and earth’s magnetic field. The colors of the aurora range from white and yellow/green to purple/red hues. Its lights often shift and shimmer with a freedom similar to sunlight on a rippling lake, as the auroras arrive and depart in random fashion. Sometimes the movement is stately and sometimes whimsical, but every time it is impressive! On one occasion I saw a steady display of magenta light in a single spot in the sky. My friends and I thought surely the Lord would return at any second through that beautiful splash of vibrant color.
The aurora borealis is still one of my favorite sights. I like to imagine God moving among its beautiful lights. Today’s focus verses relate that God covers Himself with light “as with a garment” and is “clothed with honour and majesty.” When we read that He stretched out the heavens like a curtain, it is not hard to picture Him moving between the shifting folds of glorious light and color in the aurora borealis!
God is able to stand where nothing exists — on ethereal, insubstantial clouds, vapor, and wind. He laid the foundations of the earth in space, where there was nothing. He created this world with all its varied beauties in that void. God’s voice can control water and make it stand up or stay in its borders. He appointed the moon for seasons, and created darkness, when nocturnal creatures creep out. The earth’s foliage grows as He sends rain and sunshine. The fowls of the air survive in the resulting treetops, the large beasts of the sea are fed by the bounty of the seas.
Along with all of nature, we benefit from what God supplies. And of all God’s creatures, we are the only ones who can fully appreciate and give God praise and thanksgiving for His magnificent world. Our debt of gratitude is great, so when we view the wonders around us, let us pause and give praise to our Creator!
Psalm 104 is the natural progression of the preceding psalm. While no title is given, it continues in the same style as Psalm 103, beginning and ending with, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” It follows the same theme — blessing the Lord for His interaction with His creation — although Psalm 103 focused on God’s interaction with man, while Psalm 104 focuses on God’s interaction with nature. The last verse of Psalm 103 provides the transition to this psalm in its closing statement: “Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion.”
Psalm 104 is a poetic account of creation that loosely follows the same outline as Genesis 1. However, instead of focusing on how God created, it focuses on the relationship of God to His creation (His works). For example, while Genesis 1:3 states, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light,” Psalm 104:2 says, “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment.”
The character of God is shown through this perspective of creation. Three attributes which are unique to God stand out in this psalm: God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (present everywhere).
The omnipotence of God is brought out in verses 1-9. This section of the psalm begins with, “Thou art very great,” and emphasizes God’s greatness as revealed through the first three days of Creation. In these verses, each of God’s created works is shown to be subject to Him.
The next section of the psalm, verses 10-20, continues a focus on the third day of Creation and into the fourth. It conveys the omniscience of God through the design that is seen in the natural world. Water serves as an example of how nature works in harmony: water nourishes the earth, which brings forth grass, which feeds the cattle and provides crops for man. This example also shows that God has provided for every need of man — water, shelter, and food. The latter verses of this section show that everything created has a purpose. For example, the trees provide habitation for birds, the hills serve as a refuge for goats, and the moon is appointed for seasons.
Verses 21-35 highlight the omnipresence of God through all creatures’ dependence upon Him. Living creatures rely on God for their daily needs — “these wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season” (verse 27), and are dependent upon God for sustained life, for when He “takest away their breath, they die” (verse 29).
In light of all that the psalmist had observed in nature, he realized his need to give praise to God as long as he lived. His oft-repeated injunction to “Bless the Lord, O my soul” changes to a new phrase of thanksgiving: “Praise ye the Lord.” The original Hebrew for this phrase is “halelu-yah;” this is the first time the word “hallelujah” occurs in the Book of Psalms.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- What are three of the ways God has provided for the animals? (See verses 11, 12, 14, 17, 18, and 21.)
- What aspects of creation especially speak to your heart?
- What are some ways we can honor and praise God for His creative powers?
God designed the various elements of creation to work together beautifully, and we are amazed, captivated, and delighted with His handiwork.