Glad In His Works

Scripture Reading

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.

You fixed the earth upon its foundation,
not to be moved forever;
With the ocean, as with a garment, you covered it;
above the mountains the waters stood.

You send forth springs into the watercourses
that wind among the mountains.
Beside them the birds of heaven dwell;
from among the branches they send forth their song.

How manifold are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you have wrought them all—
the earth is full of your creatures;
Bless the LORD, O my soul! Alleluia. 

(Psalm 104:1-2,5-6,10,12,35)

 

Scripture Study

104:1. The greatness of God is to be seen in creation, and in the order that exists in the universe, through God’s act of creation and unceasing divine providence. All these things are evidence of his glory.

104:2–4. The psalmist borrows very freely from the Genesis account of the creation (Gen 1). Light (v. 2) was the first thing that God created; it is conceived of as an element in its own right (cf. Gen 1:3–5)

104:5–9. Glossing the separating of the waters and the appearance of dry land as narrated in Genesis 1:6–10, and the original chaos referred to in Genesis 1:2, the psalmist proclaims God’s power over the seas, here seen as threatening forces.

104:10–18. The central part of the psalm is taken up with a highly poetic description of how God, using springs and rain, relieves the thirst of wild animals, provides food for flocks and for mankind, and causes tall trees to grow (“trees of the Lord”: v. 16). The earth looks like paradise.

104:33–35. The poem ends with the psalmist’s promising to devote his entire life to the praise of the Lord by extolling his works as he has done in the psalm (v. 35). The “Alleluia” (“Praise the Lord”) which appears at the very end of the psalm in the Hebrew text (the Septuagint puts it at the start of Psalm 105) must have been included here for liturgical reasons.[1]

Scripture Reflection

The praise offered God in this psalm for all his work of creation and providence is extended in the New Testament to Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God through whom all things were created (Jn 1:3) and it is through him that all things continue to exist (“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together”: Col 1:17). The Church uses this psalm in the liturgy of Pentecost, the feast day that celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, marking the climax of the new creation brought about by the Incarnation of Christ and made manifest in the Church.

The psalm is a poetic vision of the world and of what we moderns call “nature” as the work of the LORD. Contemporary people have a variety of ways of viewing and speaking about the world and the forms of life it sustains—scientific, economic, aesthetic, recreational. This psalm offers the view and language that is appropriate for faith. For those who live by faith, its view and language qualify and define the other ways of thinking and speaking.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 344–346.