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104. Psalm 104
1Bless Jehovah, O my soul.
O Jehovah my God, thou art very great;
Thou art clothed with honor and majesty:
2Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment;
Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain;
3Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters;
Who maketh the clouds his chariot;
Who walketh upon the wings of the wind;
4Who maketh awinds his messengers;
Flames of fire his ministers;
5 aWho laid the foundations of the earth,
That it should not be moved for ever.
6Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a vesture;
The waters stood above the mountains.
7At thy rebuke they fled;
At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away
8 a(The mountains rose, the valleys sank down)
Unto the place which thou hadst founded for them.
9Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over;
That they turn not again to cover the earth.
10He sendeth forth springs into the valleys;
They run among the mountains;
11They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild asses quench their thirst.
12By them the birds of the heavens have their habitation;
They asing among the branches.
13He watereth the mountains from his chambers:
The earth is filled with the fruit of thy works.
14He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
And herb for the aservice of man;
That he may bring forth afood out of the earth,
15And wine that maketh glad the heart of man,
aAnd oil to make his face to shine,
And bread that strengtheneth man's heart.
16The trees of Jehovah are filled with moisture,
The cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;
17Where the birds make their nests:
As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house.
18The high mountains are for the wild goats;
The rocks are a refuge for the conies.
19He appointed the moon for seasons:
The sun knoweth his going down.
20Thou makest darkness, and it is night,
Wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth.
21The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.
22The sun ariseth, they get them away,
And lay them down in their dens.
23Man goeth forth unto his work
And to his labor until the evening.
24O Jehovah, how manifold are thy works!
In wisdom hast thou made them all:
The earth is full of thy ariches.
25Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
Wherein are things creeping innumerable,
Both small and great beasts.
26There go the ships;
There is leviathan, whom thou hast formed to play atherein.
27These wait all for thee,
That thou mayest give them their food in due season.
28Thou givest unto them, they gather;
Thou openest thy hand, they are satisfied with good.
29Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled;
Thou atakest away their breath, they die,
And return to their dust.
30Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created;
And thou renewest the face of the ground.
31Let the glory of Jehovah endure for ever;
Let Jehovah rejoice in his works:
32Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth;
He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke.
33I will sing unto Jehovah as long as I live:
I will sing praise to my God while I have any being.
34Let thy meditation be sweet unto him:
I will rejoice in Jehovah.
35Let sinners be consumed out of the earth.
And let the wicked be no more.
Bless Jehovah, O my soul.
aPraise ye Jehovah.
1 Bless Jehovah, O my soul! After having exhorted himself to praise God, the Psalmist adds, that there is abundant matter for such an exercise; thus indirectly condemning himself and others of ingratitude, if the praises of God, than which nothing ought to be better known, or more celebrated, are buried by silence. In comparing the light with which he represents God as arrayed to a garment, he intimates, that although God is invisible, yet his glory is conspicuous enough. In respect of his essence, God undoubtedly dwells in light that is inaccessible; but as he irradiates the whole world by his splendor, this is the garment in which He, who is hidden in himself, appears in a manner visible to us. The knowledge of this truth is of the greatest importance. If men attempt to reach the infinite height to which God is exalted, although they fly above the clouds, they must fail in the midst of their course. Those who seek to see him in his naked majesty are certainly very foolish. That we may enjoy the light of him, he must come forth to view with his clothing; that is to say, we must cast our eyes upon the very beautiful fabric of the world in which he wishes to be seen by us, and not be too curious and rash in searching into his secret essence. Now, since God presents himself to us clothed with light, those who are seeking pretexts for their living without the knowledge of him, cannot allege in excuse of their slothfulness, that he is hidden in profound darkness. When it is said that the heavens are a curtain, it is not meant that under them God hides himself, but that by them his majesty and glory are displayed; being, as it were, his royal pavilion.
3. Laying the beams of his chambers in the waters David now proceeds to explain at greater length what he had briefly stated under the figure of God’s raiment. The scope of the passage is shortly this, that we need not pierce our way above the clouds for the purpose of finding God, since he meets us in the fabric of the world, and is everywhere exhibiting to our view scenes of the most vivid description. That we may not imagine that there is any thing in Him derived, as if, by the creation of the world, he received any addition to his essential perfection and glory, we must remember that he clothes himself with this robe for our sake. The metaphorical representation of God, as laying the beams of his chambers in the waters, seems somewhat difficult to understand; but it was the design of the prophet, from a thing incomprehensible to us, to ravish us with the greater admiration. Unless beams be substantial and strong, they will not be able to sustain even the weight of an ordinary house. When, therefore, God makes the waters the foundation of his heavenly palace, who can fail to be astonished at a miracle so wonderful? When we take into account our slowness of apprehension, such hyperbolical expressions are by no means superfluous; for it is with difficulty that they awaken and enable us to attain even a slight knowledge of God.
What is meant by his walking upon the wings of the wind, is rendered more obvious from the following verse, where it is said, that the winds are his messengers God rides on the clouds, and is carried upon the wings of the wind, inasmuch as he drives about the winds and clouds at his pleasure, and by sending them hither and thither as swiftly as he pleases, shows thereby the signs of his presence. By these words we are taught that the winds do not blow by chance, nor the lightnings flash by a fortuitous impulse, but that God, in the exercise of his sovereign power, rules and controls all the agitations and disturbances of the atmosphere. From this doctrine a twofold advantage may be reaped. In the first place, if at any time noxious winds arise, if the south wind corrupt the air, or if the north wind scorch the corn, and not only tear up trees by the root, but overthrow houses, and if other winds destroy the fruits of the earth, we ought to tremble under these scourges of Providence. In the second place, if, on the other hand, God moderate the excessive heat by a gentle cooling breeze, if he purify the polluted atmosphere by the north wind, or if he moisten the parched ground by south winds; in this we ought to contemplate his goodness.
As the apostle, who writes to the Hebrews, (Hebrews 1:7) quotes this passage, and applies it to the angels, both the Greek and Latin expositors have almost unanimously considered David as here speaking allegorically. In like manner, because Paul, in quoting Psalm 19:4, in his Epistle to the Romans, (Romans 10:18) seems to apply to the apostles what is there stated concerning the heavens, the whole psalm has been injudiciously expounded as if it were an allegory. 179179 See volume 1, page 314. The design of the apostle, in that part of the Epistle to the Hebrews referred to, was not simply to explain the mind of the prophet in this place; but since God is exhibited to us, as it were, visibly in a mirror, the apostle very properly lays down the analogy between the obedience which the winds manifestly and perceptibly yield to God, and that obedience which he receives from the angels. In short, the meaning is, that as God makes use of the winds as his messengers, turns them hither and thither, calms and raises them whenever he pleases, that by their ministry he may declare his power, so the angels were created to execute his commands. And certainly we profit little in the contemplation of universal nature, if we do not behold with the eyes of faith that spiritual glory of which an image is presented to us in the world.