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Psalm One Hundred and Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Psalm 104:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

Psalm 104:2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

coverest thyself with light. This 104th psalm gives unique insight into the mysteries of God's creation, from its first beginnings to the great Flood, to the providential care of His creation in the present world and to the consummation. “God is light” (xTerm 1:5), so light did not have to be created, as did darkness (Isaiah 45:7); it needed merely to be “formed” in such fashion as to provide divine apparel for the Creator as He entered, as it were, into His physical universe when He created it.

stretchest out the heavens. The “heavens” are simply the infinite reaches of created “space” in His space/mass/time universe. The “stretching out” may refer either to their limitless extent, or to their expansion, or both.

Psalm 104:3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

in the waters. The “waters” seem to have provided the initial matrix within which all “matter” was contained (note Genesis 1:2; 2 Peter 3:5). Somewhere in the physical universe God established His “chambers,” where He is “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16).

wings of the wind. The Hebrew for “wind” is the same as for “spirit.” Symbolically, God “rides” on the waters, and “walks” by His Spirit. This implies the energizing, activating movement of the Spirit (Genesis 1:2), as God began to prepare His vast cosmos, and the earth in particular, for the men and women He would create in His own image.

Psalm 104:4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

maketh his angels. Prior to man's creation, however, God made the angels, evidently on the first day of creation week, after He Himself had entered His universe and began to move therein by the Spirit. Some translators have read this statement as: “God made the winds His messengers, and the fires His servants.” The inspired New Testament writer of Hebrews, however, quoted it properly: “And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire” (Hebrews 1:7). The angels are spiritual (rather than physical) beings, though they can assume quasi-physical bodies on occasion. Angels are commonly associated in Scripture with the stars, possibly because their dwellings are normally in the stars (which are, of course, “flaming fires”). Compare Judges 5:20; Job 38:7; Isaiah 14:12, 14; Revelation 1:20; 12:3-9.

Psalm 104:5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

foundations of the earth. The earth's “matter”—that is, the “dust of the earth,” or its physical elements—was created on the first day of creation week, evidently suspended in the pervasive waters. The earth's foundations, solid, continental blocks of material, were not laid until the third day, rising thence out of the waters. Once formed, this planet earth was destined to continue forever.

Psalm 104:6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

with the deep. The completed earth was later once again covered with water at the time of the great Flood when the waters rose above all the mountains (Genesis 7:19, 20) of the antediluvian world.

Psalm 104:7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

they fled. God intervened to end the Flood (Genesis 8:1). The words “fled” and “hasted” indicate very rapid drainage, implying much geological work being done.

Psalm 104:8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

down by the valleys. The sense of this statement is: “The mountains rise; the basins sink down.” This post-diluvian mountain-building epoch permitted the Flood waters to drain off into the new ocean basins.

Psalm 104:9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

may not pass over. Such a Flood can never occur again, in accordance with God's promise to Noah (Genesis 9:11-15).

Psalm 104:10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.

springs into the valleys. The Deluge waters were purified through filtration through the sediments left by the Flood, so that the rivers were renewed by freshwater springs. The rest of Psalm 104 speaks eloquently of God's providential care of all His creatures in this postdiluvian world.

Psalm 104:11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.

Psalm 104:12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.

Psalm 104:13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.

Psalm 104:14 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;

Psalm 104:15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

Psalm 104:16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;

Psalm 104:17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

Psalm 104:18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.

Psalm 104:19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

Psalm 104:20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

Psalm 104:21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

Psalm 104:22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

Psalm 104:23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

Psalm 104:24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

in wisdom. The present world and its complex ecosystems provide abundantly for God's providential care of His creation (as summarized in Psalm 104:10-23), and also provide abundant evidence of His omniscience in planning, designing and maintaining such a marvelous world.

Psalm 104:25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

great and wide sea. The present oceans are deep and wide, whereas the pre-Flood “seas” were relatively narrow and shallow, though numerous. They now contain the drain-waters from the Flood which once were stored in the vast “waters above the firmament” (Genesis 1:7) and the subterranean “deep.”

innumerable. There are many more marine organisms, both in number and variety, than air-breathing birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. This is especially true in the fossil record.

Psalm 104:26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

leviathan. The “leviathan” was a great sea-serpent or dragon (note Isaiah 27:1), almost certainly corresponding to the plesiosaurs or other marine reptiles like dinosaurs now only known as fossils. “Playing” in the deep ocean where ships go, it obviously was not a mere crocodile, as modern commentators allege.

Psalm 104:27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.

Psalm 104:28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.

Psalm 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

Psalm 104:30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

created. The creation of plant, animal and human life—both physical and biological—had been completed in creation week (Genesis 2:1-3), so is not going on today. This repeated “creation” must, therefore, apply to the marvelous ability of reproduction as created in each kind of organisms at the beginning. It may possibly refer to the actual creation of each human soul/spirit in God's image at conception.

Psalm 104:31 The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

Psalm 104:32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

it trembleth. Earthquakes and volcanoes, non-existent in the pre-Flood world, repeatedly remind us in this present world of the great upheavals that took place at the time of the Flood. The Flood left many on-going effects in the form of “residual catastrophism.” These not only should remind us that God does eventually judge the wickedness of man but also serve to warn us of a coming worldwide judgment by fire (note Psalm 104:35).

Psalm 104:33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

Psalm 104:34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

Psalm 104:35 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.

wicked be no more. In this concluding verse the psalm looks forward to the consummation and the renewed earth (2 Peter 3:10, 13).

Bless thou the Lord. This particular exhortation, “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” occurs only at the beginning and end of Psalms 103 and 104, indicating both a continuity of authorship and of theme.

Praise ye the Lord. This final exhortation, “Praise ye the Lord,” is essentially one word in Hebrew, hallelujah. This is the first of twenty-two occurrences in the book of Psalms (the “Hallal” book of Israel). This number, appropriately, is the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the alphabet in which God first revealed His Word in human language. The very purpose of language is that of praising the Lord. Hallelujah ends each of Psalms 104, 105 and 106, tying them together as a unit, and as a unit, with Psalm 103. Psalm 104 deals mainly with God's care for His people from Adam to Abraham, Psalm 105 from Abraham to Moses, and Psalm 106 from Moses to David. Psalm 103 thus may constitute David's introduction to these three great psalms of praise.