corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.12.13
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 104

 

 

Verse 1

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

Psalms 104:1-35.-Theme: Bless Yahweh for His works, which reflect His majesty (Psalms 104:1); His creation of light, the heavens, the earth; separation of water and land (Psalms 104:6-9); watering the ground by fountains (Psalms 104:10-12); the hills by rain, to nourish man and beast, to produce trees to shelter the birds (Psalms 104:13-17); from the hilly refuges of the wild goats (Psalms 104:18) the Psalmist passes to the sun, moon, and night, and their uses to the beasts and to man (Psalms 104:19-23); the wide sea embosoms countless beings, small and great, and affords a transit to ships for contact between distant lands (Psalms 104:24-26); all wait upon God for food. When He takes away their breath they die; when He sends His Spirit the earth is renewed (Psalms 104:27-30); the gum is, Yahweh's glory shall be forever; when earth's high hills fulfill not their purpose, His mere touch consumes them; the Psalmist therefore will ever be glad in Him, whereas sinners shall be consumed (Psalms 104:31-35). The praise of God in nature is the means: the end is to assure the Church in trouble from the pagan world-power, that however sinners now seem to have the upper hand, they shall at last be consumed out of the earth. The first and second days' work of creation (Genesis 1:1-31) is given, Psalms 104:2-5; the third day's work, Psalms 104:6-18; the fourth, Psalms 104:19-23; the fifth, Psalms 104:24-26; the close of the sixth and the beginning of the seventh are alluded to, Psalms 104:31. Yahweh, who cares for the lowest of His creatures, will surely care for His endangered Church (Matthew 6:25-33). This trilogy Psalms 104:1-35; Psalms 105:1-45; Psalms 106:1-48 is appended to David's trilogy Psalms 101:1-8; Psalms 102:1-28; Psalms 103:1-22. This 104th Psalm celebrates God's works in nature: Psalms 105:1-45; Psalms 106:1-48 His deeds in history.

O Lord, my God - Israel's God. The Psalmist speaks as representative of the elect nation and of the Church.

Thou art very great - proved by what follows. It is developed throughout the psalm.

Thou art clothed with honour and majesty. This royal apparel of glory wherewith thou didst clothe thyself at creation, thou dost still wear in the continued preservation of the world. The same creative power and beneficence preserve, as originally called into being, the world. This the Psalmist proceeds to show; and hence, infers (Psalms 104:35) that God will similarly clothe Himself for the final salvation of Israel and the Church (Psalms 93:1; Isaiah 51:9).


Verse 2

Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment. The general glory put on by God as a garment at creation is here transferred to one department-namely, the calling forth of light, with which creation began. The light meant is not that "light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:16), but that which was first unfolded at creation, and which daily illuminates us (Genesis 1:3). The Hebrew participles imply continued action. God perpetuates in His daily providence the work which He originated at creation.

Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain - like the covering spread over a tent, as the tabernacle. God did so on the second day by His word with the same ease with which one stretches out a tent-curtain (Isaiah 54:2; Isaiah 40:22).


Verse 3

Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters - rather, 'Who layeth the beams of His upper chambers with waters.' The waters above are the materials out of which the glorious structure is reared. Similarly, in the main, the Chaldaic and Vulgate. Compare Genesis 50:7, 'God made the expanse (the vaulted sky: the English version, the firmament), and divided the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse.' To construct out of the movable waters a firm palace, the cloudy heaven, 'strong as a molten glass' (Job 37:18), is a magnificent work of divine omnipotence. The citadel of cloud gets the name of the upper chamber of God, as being the upper part of the fable of the world. The under one is the earth (Psalms 104:5) (Hengstenberg). It is not the upper chamber of God, where he dwells above the waters, and hidden from view, that is meant; because the context is not concerning the hidden, but the manifested glory of God. So in Psalms 104:13 it is from the same upper chambers of watery cloud that He watereth with rain the hills.

Who maketh the clouds his chariot - driving them at will, as a king does his chariot.

Who walketh upon the wings of the wind - (Psalms 18:10.) God directs at pleasure the winged winds. The winds are mentioned naturally in connection with the clouds which they drive before them as fleet steeds.


Verse 4

Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire - (Hebrews 1:7.) [ ho (Greek #3588) poioon (Greek #4160) tous (Greek #3588) angelous (Greek #32) autou (Greek #847) pneumata (Greek #4151) kai (Greek #2532) tous (Greek #3588) leitourgous (Greek #3011) autou (Greek #847) puros (Greek #4442) floga (Greek #5395).] The Greek article accompanies "angels" and "ministers," and so marks them as the subjects; and "spirits," and a 'flame of fire,' predicates, or attributes predicated respectively of the former. So also here the subjects, "angels" and "ministers," are marked by being placed in the Hebrew first, and the attributes predicated of them, "spirits," or rather 'WINDS,' and "a flaming fire," second. God maketh His angelic messengers the directing powers acting by the winds and the flaming lightning, when these are required for His purpose. Hengstenberg, after Muis, argues that the context is concerning the visible glory of God, as manifested in the material creation, in connection with Genesis 1:1-31, the second day's work of creation, not concerning immaterial and invisible beings.

Compare also the parallel passages, Psalms 105:32; Psalms 148:8, "fire ... and stormy wind fulfilling his word." He therefore translates, 'He maketh winds His angels, and flaming fire His servants.' But if this were the construction, Paul would have said, 'Who maketh flaming fire His minister;' not 'His ministers' (plural). Besides, Hebrews 1:7 decides that it is of angels the Psalmist speaks. The connection in which the angels, who are ordinarily invisible, are introduced here among the material objects of nature is probably this: the Psalmist is speaking of God's visible chalet of clouds, and naturally introduces His spiritual ministers, the angels, who act through the winds and the lightning flame, which are His manifest retinue in His mighty operations of nature. The winds and the flaming lightning fire are modes of the manifestation of God's spiritual ministers, the angels. As God Himself is said, in Psalms 104:3, to 'walk upon the wings of the wind,' so angels, His retinue, manifest their agency as His attendant ministers in wind and fire. Thus angels were with Him in the tempest and lightning at Sinai (Deuteronomy 33:2). At the coming judgment "a fiery stream" is represented as 'issuing from before Him,' and "thousand thousands" of angels as 'ministering unto Him' (Daniel 7:10). So in Judges 13:20, "the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame." Compare Psalms 103:20-21.


Verse 5

Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed forever. What is denied is not the earth's motion, but the possibility of its being disturbed from the place in the universe which God has assigned it. What is here said of His laying the foundations of the earth, answers to what was said of the heavens, Psalms 104:3. It is still the work of the second day of creation that is referred to. As the upper part of the world-frame, the sky, is firmly constructed, though it has only water for its beams, so the lower part, the earth, is firmly founded by God's omnipotence, though it rest upon nothing to support it. Literally, 'Who founded the earth upon its foundations?' Its foundations are the gravity or attraction of its particles toward the center, and the spherical figure. God hangs the earth in mid-air, resting on its own foundations. Thus, the Bible anticipated Newton's great discovery. Job 26:7, 'He hangeth the earth upon nothing;' also Job 26:8; Bible anticipated Newton's great discovery. Job 26:7, 'He hangeth the earth upon nothing;' also Job 26:8; Job 38:4-6.


Verse 6

Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment. "It," the earth. In the Hebrew the suffix is masculine, whereas "earth," in Psalms 104:5, is feminine; therefore the word is of common gender: or else translate, 'The flood like a garment ... thou didst spread it (the flood) like a covering' over the earth.

The waters stood above the mountains - before the separation of water and dry land. Thus the flood subsequently brought back the earth to its original state (Genesis 7:19-20).


Verse 7

At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

At thy rebuke they fled. The water was removed from off the earth on the third day of creation. The deep stood, as it were, in an attitude of opposition to God's will, that His glory, as the God of order, should be manifested in the orderly distribution of the elements of this beautiful earth. God, by a rebuke, compels them to recede into their own place (Genesis 1:9), just as Jesus "rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still" (Mark 4:39).

At the voice of thy thunder - i:e., thy thunder-like voice.

They hasted away - for fear.


Verse 8

They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys. The waters, tumultuously excited by God's "rebuke" after having been brought down by it, again 'go up TO the mountains,' whence they had been dislodged; but being unable to keep themselves there, 'they go down to the valleys,' until they at length settle down in the place assigned to them by God. Compare Psalms 107:26; Genesis 1:9, God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so." The appearing of the dry land, not its formation, was the work of the third day.

Unto the place which thou hast founded for them. God, as the Master-Builder, founded the deep bed of the sea as the receptacle for the waters and their countless inhabitants (Psalms 104:5; Psalms 104:25; Psalms 102:25).


Verse 9

Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over - (Job 26:10; Job 38:8; Job 38:11.) The flood was a temporary exception, which, according to the sure word of God, is never to be repeated (Genesis 9:11; Genesis 9:15; Jeremiah 5:22).


Verse 10-11

He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.

He sendeth the springs into the valleys ... They give drink to every beast of the field - literally, 'river-valleys' [ nachal (Hebrew #5158)]; valleys forming the beds of streams. Besides driving away the hostile sea-floods, God waters the dry land for the nourishment of His creatures. The creation of the vegetable world belongs to the third day (Genesis 1:11-12). Here the Psalmist brings forward the necessary element to the development of vegetation (Genesis 2:5). 'The beasts of the field' are the wild animals, as distinguished from "the cattle" (Psalms 104:14), domestic animals.

Quench their thirst - literally, break, etc. As we use the phrase, 'break one's fast.'


Verse 12

By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.

By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation - "fowl of the air" (Genesis 1:30; Genesis 2:19). The fowls of the heaven and the beasts of the field have this in common, that no one cares for them. The God who cares for the otherwise uncared for beasts and birds will much more care for His own people (Matthew 6:26).


Verses 13-17

He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.

-Continuation of the description of God's care of His creatures by watering the dry land; as He waters the lower places or valleys by means of fountains or springs (Psalms 104:10), so the high ground or hills by rain, which makes the grass to grow for cattle, and grain and wine for man, and supplies with sap the tress wherein the birds build their nests.

Verse 13. He watereth the hills - literally (the same Hebrew as in Psalms 104:11), 'He giveth drink to the hills.' Even inanimate nature and the earth are nourished by Him. So this two-fold watering is mentioned in Genesis 49:25, "The Almighty shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under." The hills are the region of rain, as the rain-clouds rest on their summits: cf. Deuteronomy 11:11, "The land is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven" as distinguished from Egypt watered by the Nile.

From his chambers - `from His upper chambers' (Psalms 104:3, note).

The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works - i:e., the earth is richly nourished with the rain which is the produce of the waters whereof God's upper chambers (His "works," cf. Psalms 104:24) are constructed by Him (Psalms 104:3, note).

Verse 14. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man - literally, 'for the ministry of man.' But the Hebrew [ la`


Verse 18

The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.

The high hills (are) a refuse for the wild goats, (and) the rocks for the conies. This verse is the transition clause to the second half of the psalm. "The high hills" stand in contrast to "the hills" in general (Psalms 104:13), and is parallel to "the rocks." On "the conies," cf. Proverbs 30:26. It is mentioned also in Leviticus 2:5, and Deuteronomy 14:7. The Hebrew [shaapan, from a root 'to hide:' so the South Arabic name of it, thofun] answers, according to Walter Drake (Smith's, 'Dictionary of the Bible'), to the Hyrax Syriacus, a gregarious animal of the pachydermatous kind-gray or brown on the back, and white on the belly; scarcely the size of a cat, having long hair, short tail, and round ears. It is very common on the ridges of Lebanon. Bochart understands it of mountain mice of a larger kind, like the marmot.


Verse 19

He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

He appointed the moon for seasons - `appointed times' (cf. Genesis 1:14). The moon is mentioned before the sun, as the evening or night is mentioned in Genesis 1:1-31 before the morning or day. The Hebrews in reckoning began the day from evening. The first divisions of time were marked by the moon.

The sun knoweth his going down. The sun observes the exact times of his rising and setting by God's The sun knoweth his going down. The sun observes the exact times of his rising and setting by God's appointment (Job 38:12, "caused the day-spring to know his place"). The moon's apparent variations are greater than the sun's. The sun never remains above the horizon beyond its time; because otherwise a part of God's creatures would be deprived of their time for getting their food (Psalms 104:20-22).


Verse 20-21

Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

Thou makest darkness ... wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions ... seek their meat from God - who is the Provider alike of their proper prey and of the darkness wherein they can get it (Job 38:39).


Verse 22-23

The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

The sun ariseth, they ... lay them down in their dens. Man goeth forth unto his work ... until the evening. As God cares for the beasts by appointing the night as their season for getting sustenance, so much more does He care for man, and shows his care by causing the night to be followed by the day, wherein man goeth forth to his daily labour.


Verses 24-26

O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

-From the sun and moon, the highest of the visible manifestations of God's omnipotence and love, the transition is made to the deepest-namely, the sea. The work of the fifth day of creation is here alluded to; but the Psalmist refers not so much to the formation of the fish and the birds on that day as he does to the preparation of the sea for its countless inhabitants, and for man's use in navigation. He already has treated of God's care of birds.

Verse 24. O Lord, how manifold are thy works! - thy manifold arrangements for the well being of thy creatures, according to their several needs and organizations: each finds his sphere of existence and his means of subsistence.

The earth is full of thy riches literally 'thy possessions;' these thou keepest not to thyself but blessest thy The earth is full of thy riches - literally, 'thy possessions;' these thou keepest not to thyself, but blessest thy creatures with.

Verse 25. (So is) this great and wide sea. - rather, supply the ellipsis, 'This the sea (is an instance of thy works made in wisdom, Psalms 104:24), great and wide (on) both hands' (so the Hebrew, yadaim); extending widely on both sides.

Wherein (are) things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts - (Genesis 1:21; Psalms 69:34.)

Verse 26. There go the ships - as living beings: personification (Genesis 49:13). This points out what a gracious provision for man the sea has been made by God.

There is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein - the ship-like representative of the animal kingdom in the sea (cf. note, Psalms 74:14); as the ships represent man's interests. He plays therein with unrestricted liberty, as in his vast element (Job 40:20).


Verses 27-30

These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.

-All God's creatures obtain from Him their food in due season. They die at God's pleasure: and when God sends forth His Spirit the earth is renewed again, as it was after the destruction by the deluge, (Genesis 8:1-22; Genesis 9:1-29.)

Verse 27. These wait all upon thee - not merely the sea animals, but all the animals previously named including man (Psalms 104:14-15; Psalms 104:23; Psalms 104:26). This is proved by Psalms 104:30 : cf. also the parallel, Job 34:14-15. The distinctness of this strophe from the preceding shows that 'these all' is not to be restricted to the sea animals (Psalms 104:25-26 : cf. Psalms 147:9; Psalms 136:25).

That thou mayest give them their meat in due season - (Psalms 145:15.) Each animal has its "due season" or appropriate time of getting its food. Nothing is hap-hazard in God's ways (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Verse 28. That thou givest them they gather - as the Israelites "gathered" (picked up from the earth [ laaqaT (Hebrew #3950)]) the manna. The Hebrew word is rare, but recurs frequently in the account of the manna sent from heaven (Exodus 16:4-5; Exodus 16:16), which shows that our psalm refers to that passage. All the sustenance which the lower animals and man partake of is really "bread of (from) heaven" (Psalms 105:40; Deuteronomy 8:3).

Verse 29. Thou hidest thy face - i:e., dost withdraw thy loving care and presence.

They are troubled - (Psalms 90:7.) So, spiritually, when God hides His face from His people, instantly "they are troubled" (Psalms 30:7).

Thou takest away their breath - literally, 'thou gatherest in their breath' to thyself, as "the God of the spirits of all flesh" (Numbers 16:22); "the Father of spirits" (Hebrews 12:9; Genesis 1:2; Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 12:7). They die - as at the flood, to which the allusion here is (Genesis 7:21-22).

And return to their dust - (Genesis 3:19.)

Verse 30. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created. So in the coming revival of Israel from her long-continued national and spiritual death (Isaiah 32:15; Ezekiel 37:9; Psalms 102:18, "The people which shall be created shall praise the Lord").

And thou renewest the face of the earth - by peopling it again with man, and restoring the animal and vegetable creation. The phrase shows an allusion to Genesis 7:4. The restoration after the extraordinary catastrophe of the flood, and, on a smaller scale, every spring after the ordinary desolation of winter, are a pledge of the future perfect "regeneration" of the earth, when God shall fulfill His word "Behold, I make all things new" (Matthew 19:28; Revelation 21:5). Meanwhile it assures the Church and the individual believer that, however God may cause trouble by hiding his face for a time, He will send forth His spirit and create anew what He had suffered to die.


Verse 31

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

The glory of the Lord shall endure forever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works - as He did when creation was completed (Genesis 1:31). As God is glorified, and therefore rejoices in His 'manifold works' for the preservation of all His creatures (Psalms 104:13; Psalms 104:24; Psalms 19:1), so shall He give cause that He may be glorified by delivering them.


Verse 32

He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

He loooketh on the earth, and it trembleth; he toucheth the hills, and they smoke - the ground of the confidence in Psalms 104:31, that God will glorify Himself in delivering His people; namely, His absolute power to humble all the mountain-like world-kingdoms (Psalms 68:16) which oppose themselves to His purpose of finally saving His people. Should "the earth" venture to deviate from His appointment, a single look from Him makes it to 'tremble.' Should "the hills" exalt themselves proudly, God need but touch them and they smoke. Like children who tremble at the stern look of a father, so at the promulgation of the law at Sinai, when God showed signs of His severe justice, both "the earth shook" and the people (Psalms 68:8; Habakkuk 3:5; Habakkuk 3:10; Judges 5:5). The smoking was a sign of fear, Exodus 19:18, "Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly" (Psalms 144:5; Deuteronomy 32:22).


Verse 33

I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live. The thought of God's glory, which ensures the Church's everlasting safety determines the Psalmist (as representative of Israel literal and spiritual) to praise the Lord so long as his life gives him the opportunity of praise (Psalms 63:4), before death prevents him praising God on earth (Psalms 6:5; Psalms 88:10).


Verse 34

My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

My meditation of him shall be sweet - henceforward, seeing that I have such good hope drawn from the glory of the Lord which ensures the final deliverance of Israel and the Church (notes, Psalms 104:30-31). The context and the parallelism to

I will be glad in the Lord confirm the English version, rather than Hengstenberg. 'My meditation shall be acceptable to Him.' "I will be glad in the Lord," because of His glory manifested in my behalf, even as He rejoices in His works (Psalms 104:31).


Verse 35

Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.

Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more - alluding to Numbers 14:35. The same doom which befell the rebel Israelites in the wilderness shall befall the pagan or Gentile apostates who "set themselves together against the Lord, and against His Anointed" (Psalms 2:1-2). Thus the true scope of the psalm appears the deliverance of the godly at last out of all their present troubles from the ungodly. The trembling of the earth and the smoking of the high hills (Psalms 104:32) at the look and touch of Yahweh is here expressed in the plain sense, the ungodly shall be destroyed, and the godly saved by that Lord whose might and whose love have been set forth throughout the psalm. The imperative, "Let the sinners be consumed," is the prophetic word which carries with it its own fulfillment.

Praise ye the Lord Hebrew 'Hallelujah;' here first occurring Not found in David's psalms Praise ye the Lord - Hebrew, 'Hallelujah;' here first occurring. Not found in David's psalms.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 104:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-104.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology