Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 104

Smith's WritingsSmith's Writings

Verses 1-35


Praise to Jehovah as the Creator. A millennial song of the godly when the enemies have been consumed out of the land, and the wicked are no more.

In Genesis 1 we have the record of creation; in this psalm the song of creation. The psalm in its main outline follows the story of creation. The record presents the creation in its beginning: the song sets forth the creation in its present active organization. “One portrays the beginning of the eternal order, the other its perpetual living spectacle. Hence, too, the Ode has far more animation than the Record. The latter is a picture of still life: the former is crowded with figures full of stir and movement” (Perowne).

(vv. 1-4) The psalm opens with an ascription of praise to the Creator by one, who, according to the previous psalm, already knows Jehovah as Redeemer, and, therefore, can say, “O Lord my God, thou art very great.” In the opening verses there arises before the psalmist a view of creation that corresponds with the first and second days of creation. God, who is light, divides the waters from the waters, stretching out the heavens above over the waters beneath. In all this great work God is seen, not only as creating, but moving in His own creation, He “maketh the clouds his chariot,” and “walketh upon the wings of the wind.” Angels wait upon Him as His ministers.

(vv. 5-9) In the verses that follow the psalmist recalls the first portion of the third day's work. He thinks of the day when at the “rebuke” of the Lord the waters were gathered into one place, and the dry land appeared, when “the mountains rose, the valleys sank, unto the place” which God had “founded for them,” when God set the bounds of the seas that “they may not pass over.”

(vv. 10-18) Further the psalmist sings of the rich provision that God has made for His creatures. He sees the streams springing from the earth, and the rain from His chambers above falling upon the hills and flowing down to the earth to quench the thirst of His creatures (vv. 10-13). He sees the grass and herbs for the food of His creatures and the trees and the high hills for their shelter (vv. 14-18). All this speaks of the latter portion of the third day's work viewed in its provision for God's creatures. Moreover the psalmist does not think of the Creator only in His past work as the Originator of all, but in His present work as the Sustainer of His creation. Thus the psalmist can say, “He sendeth the springs;” not simply that He sent them in the past; He does so now. Again he says, “He watereth the hills,” and “He causeth the grass to grow.” It is the present sustaining mercy of the Creator that fills the soul with praise. Moreover the creation is viewed in the fullness of its life and activity. The springs are not simply made - they “run among the hills.” The wild beasts quench their thirst at the streams; the birds sing and make their nests in the branches of the trees.

(vv. 19-23) The psalmist passes on to sing the praise of God in connection with the heavenly bodies of the fourth day's work, here viewed in their present ceaseless activity in relation to the needs of God's creatures.

(v. 24) The psalmist pauses in his description of God's works to exclaim upon the manifold character of them, all displaying the wisdom of the Creator, and the wealth of His resources.

(vv. 25-30) The psalmist resumes his song with a description of the sea, bringing us to the fifth day's work. Therein are things great and small, wholly dependent upon God for their existence, sustenance and replenishment.

(vv. 31-35) From the glory of creation the psalmist turns to the glory of the Creator. The whole creation will redound to His eternal glory, and in His works shall the Lord rejoice. Redemption has delivered the groaning creation from the bondage of sin so that the Lord can again rejoice in His works. Such is His majesty He has but to look on the earth and it trembles; He has but to touch the hills and they smoke. Thus the psalm closes with the Lord, rejoicing in His works; the godly rejoicing in the Lord, and the sinners consumed out of the earth, the wicked ceasing to have place any more.

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 104". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/psalms-104.html. 1832.
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