I trust that we have already felt something of holy enjoyment while our hearts and voices have been praising the Lord our God. Perhaps this Psalm may help to keep us in a praising state of mind. First of all, David sang of the majesty of God in his works; then it seems as if the spirit of praise within him became like a strong-winged angel, and, mounting into the sky, he began to soar aloft over the varied landscapes of the world until the sun went down; and even then, he continued scudding along through the darkness till the sun arose again, and found him still praising his God. We will note, as we read the Psalm, this strange, mysterious flight of the spirit of praise.
Psalms 104:1. Bless the LORD, O my soul.
There is the key-note. Strike it, my brethren, each one of you!
Psalms 104:1-3. 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: who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters:
Or, as we may read it from the Hebrew, “who maketh his halls in the waters;” those mysterious waters above the firmament are here pictured as being the cool, retired dwelling-place of the awful Deity.
Psalms 104:3. Who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
A masterly picture, as if the Lord stood erect upon the two wings of the wind, and as if the wind, like a mighty spirit, went flying round the world, with the great Jehovah standing upon its wings, and so riding along.
Psalms 104:4-5. Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
Now comes a very graphic description of Noah’s flood.
Psalms 104:6. Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
What a splendid act of divine energy, when the waters which, before, like tamed lions, slept in their dens, came hungry and fierce, and swallowed up the whole earth!
Psalms 104:7-8. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.
At the sound of God’s voice, those mighty deeps went back in a great hurricane. Anyone who has seen water when it is traveling at a great rate, lashed with tempests, will have seen it tossed as into mountains, and then having huge holes like vast valleys in it; so, the waters rose up like mountains, and fell down like valleys, till they found the channels of the deep which God had founded for them.
Psalms 104:9. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.
Jehovah puts the bit of sand into the mouth of the sea, and it comes no farther than its appointed bounds. Now you must suppose the psalmist is leaving the crowded streets, and the dingy, dusty, smoky haunts of men, and flying, on the wings of his gratitude and praise, away into the quiet of the fertile country.
Psalms 104:10-12. He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
I know of no place that seems to bring out one’s joy and praise better than when standing by the side of some rippling brook that tumbles down the fissure among the rocks, and seeing the animals come to drink, and hearing the birds blithely sing among the branches, or hang over and dip into the very stream. Even the reading of this Psalm may be like a cool and refreshing breeze to you at this time, and your soul may in imagination fly away with David, as you also praise and bless your God.
Psalms 104:13. He watereth the hills from his chambers:
From those watery halls above the firmament he pours down the showers.
Psalms 104:13-15. The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
The spirit of praise is flying over the fields ploughed and tilled by man, over the fruitful vineyards red with clusters of grapes, and over the olive gardens and other places where man’s handiwork has made the earth fertile. Now the psalmist mounts still higher, and gets into the woods.
Psalms 104:16-17. The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
Flying along over the tops of the trees, he looks down among them, and he notices the beasts as well as the birds
Psalms 104:18. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.
So that there is not any part of the earth which is not full of God’s goodness; even the rocks, which yield nothing to the plough, furnish a refuge for the conies, and the high hills are a home for the wild goats, while the fertile earth beneath makes man’s heart glad. As the spirit of praise flies over the tops of the mountains, the sun goes down. The psalmist witnesses that grand sight, an Eastern sunset.
Psalms 104:19-20. He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night:
Will he cease from his song now? No, for God does not cease to work.
Psalms 104:20-21. Wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.
So that even night has its mysterious music, and the roaring of the young lions is a tribute to the providence of the good God who cares even for the beasts that perish.
Psalms 104:22. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.
You see, the psalmist does not cease his praise, but finds a theme for music even in the rest of the beasts.
Psalms 104:23-24. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
The psalmist has made a long journey, flying along just where he could see everything upon the face of the earth, but he bethinks himself that he has not seen the half of God’s works yet, for yonder is the Mediterranean, glistening in the morning sunbeams, so he takes another flight.
Psalms 104:25-26. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships:
That is, above the water; while in it-
Psalms 104:26. There is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
Some mighty fish leaps out of the sea; the psalmist’s eye catches a glimpse of it, and he puts even that monster into his hymn of praise.
Psalms 104:27. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.
My brethren, what an idea we have here of God thus supplying all the creatures of the earth and the sea! They are all waiting upon him; they can go to no other storehouse but his, no other granary can supply their needs. Surely, we need not be afraid that he will fail us. If he feeds leviathan with his great wants, and the many birds with their little wants, he will not forget his children; he will never withhold any real good from them that walk uprightly.
Psalms 104:28. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.
That is all he has to do, you see, just to open his hand. If that hand were once fast closed, they would all die; but, in order to supply the wants of all the creatures he has made, he has only just to open his hand.
Psalms 104:29. Thou hidest thy face,
As if he did but put his hand before the brightness of his countenance,-
Psalms 104:29-30. They are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
When God takes away the genial light of the summer’s sun, what multitudes of creatures die; and then, when the soft breath of spring blows upon the earth, how soon the multitudes of insects come teeming forth! Christian, here is comfort for you! Has God withheld his Spirit from you for a little while, and have many of your joys and comforts fallen dead? He has only to speak, and he can in a moment renew all your comforts.
Psalms 104:31-35. The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more.
It seems as if the spirit of praise had bred in the psalmist a spirit of indignation against sin, he could have no patience any longer with those who would not adore so great and so good a God, and therefore he utters this imprecation upon their heads, which is rather a prophecy of what will be their doom: “Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more.”
Psalms 104:35. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.
Thus the psalmist, like a good musician, ends with the keynote of his song of praise: “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” May each of us say the same!
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 104". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany