Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Psalm 104

Psa 104.1-35 has no heading or author, but some scholars believe that David wrote this psalm (Septuagint,Latin Vulgate, etc). It is the Psalm of the Day for Rosh Chodesh (the new moon). It is also read in the afternoon of every Sabbath between Simcah Torah and Passover. This psalm basically continues the thought of Psa 103 and repeats the thought, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” This psalm teaches about the greatness of six days of creation and the glory of the first light, the heavens and the earth, the vegetation, the creatures of the sea, the beasts of the land, and finally the glory of man, the high point of creation.

Psa 104.1-4 talks about the glory of God’s creation and it begins with, “Bless the Lord, O my soul (the writer encourages himself), O Lord my God, thou art very great (full of glory).” He is clothed with splendor (honor) and majesty, which is his royal garment visible to all and his “image” and “fingerprints” are all over the universe. To say there is no evidence for God is a grave mistake. A burglar can’t find a policeman either for the same reasons (v 1). He covers himself with light, which is what covered Adam and Chava at first), like a cloak, stretching out heaven (the firmament, air) like a tent curtain (v 2). God lays the beams of his upper chambers (Gen 1.7) in the waters bound up in the clouds (v 13). He makes the clouds his chariot to ride in as he executes judgment (Isa 19.1) or to show mercy (Exo 13.21). He walks upon the wings of the wind, which means he comes swiftly to help (v 3). He makes the wind (breezes) his messengers (serving his purpose). The flaming fire (lightning) his ministers to do his will. Yehovah also manifests the power of his angels in the winds and lightning (v 4).

Psa 104.5-9 speaks of God’s works and power at creation. He established the earth on its foundations (pillars), which shows there was a design to it. One always builds something on a foundation. Its part of the blueprints. He does this so the earth will not totter but have stability, unless God decides to move it, forever and ever (v 5). He covered the earth with the deep, which were the waters of the original “formless and void.” This basically means “unformed and unfilled.” God spent the next six days “forming and filling.” These waters were like a garment, and they were above the mountains on the ocean floor (v 6). At Yehovah’s rebuke (when he separated the water from the land) they fled (Gen 1.9) and at the sound of his thunder (“kol” or voice) they hurried away (v 7). The mountains rose, making the land appear, and the valleys sank down and water collected in those valleys to a place where God established them forever (v 8). He set a boundary so that the waters could not pass over (Jer 5.22) and cover the earth, as in Gen 1.10 (v 9).

Psa 104. 10-13 tells us what God did with the waters. He sent forth springs from the mountains to the valley to drink and they flow through their regular course between the mountains in rivers and streams (v 10). They give water to every beast of the field, and they wild donkey quenches their thirst there (v 11). Besides them (the course of the rivers and streams) the birds of heaven dwell and they lift up their voices from among the branches (v 12). He waters the mountains with rain from his upper chambers and the earth is satisfied with the fruit of his works, which is the vegetation that can be eaten (v 13).

Psa 104.14-18 says that the environment was created to meet the needs of his specific creatures, from the lowest to the highest. Yehovah causes the grass to grow for the cattle and vegetation for the service of man. He will bring forth food (“Lechem” or bread) from the earth. The blessing over bread commemorates the perfection before the fall, and what will be reinstated in the future. Right now, man must do it (Gen 3.19) by his own sweat and labor, but before the fall God did it, and it will happen again in the Olam Haba (v 14). Wine makes the heart of man glad and God created the grapes from which it is made. But, here is a concept about its proper use, which is always favorable in Scripture. The word “glad” is “yisamach.” If the Hebrew letter “shin” (“s” sound) is read “yishamach” (“sh” sound) the word is related to “shimamah” which means “destruction.” This alludes to the danger of drinking too much wine. He can make a man’s face glisten with “oil” which means the health benefits of the nutrients in the oil on food, and bread which sustains a man’s heart. In Hebrew, “heart” is “lev” with one Hebrew letter “bet” sounded as a “v” sound.” But here it is written with two “bets” meaning the heart is capable of good and evil (v 15). The trees of the Lord drink their full when it rains, like the cedars of Lebanon which he planted (v 16), where the birds build their nests and the stork make their homes in the tall trees (v 17). The high mountains are created for the wild goats. Each environment on earth was created to meet the needs of certain animals. The cliffs are the refuge for the gopher (Prov 30.26) or the shy rock dwellers (v 18).

Psa 104.19-23 tells us how the great lights of the sun and moon work together for the benefit of all creatures. God makes the moon for the seasons (“moedim” or appointed times- Gen 1.14; Isa 65.11; 1 Thes 5.1; and the seasons of the year). The sun knows its place of its setting, its daily orbit and its annual cycle (v 19). God appoints the darkness and it is called night, in which all creatures of the forest prowl about. God gave them this instinct to gather together, avoiding open spaces so they can avoid man. God did not allow certain creatures that were ferocious to hunt in broad daylight in case they harmed man. God gave them the fear of man (Gen 9.2). Darkness limits visibility, so mankind and the domesticated animals must rest at night (v 20). The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God, who gave them their instinct to hunt (v 21). When the sun rises they withdraw and come together and lie down in their dens (v 22). Then man goes forth to his work and his labor because they are not in the food chain until evening. God coordinates this timetable with precision (v 23).

Psa 104.24-26 says that the sea has its own wisdom. It says, “O Lord, how many are thy works.” No creature evolved by natural selection. All the sea and its life was designed by God. In wisdom he has made (created) them all. The environment created for one creature would kill another. The earth is full of God’s possessions and every inch is full of God’s creatures and creations. There is no wasted space (v 24). There is the sea, great and broad, in which are swarms without number, animals both small (and even microscopic) and great, like the whales. Not only is the earth full but the sea is even larger (v 25). The sea is where ships move along and Leviathan which God has made to sport in it. In Jewish eschatology, Leviathan is a twisted serpent with seven heads. It is the largest of the sea creatures that eats any fish it wants. It is a picture of the False Messiah (Rev 13.1; Job 26.13, 41.1-33; Isa 27.1; Psa 74.13-14).

Psa 104.27-30 tells us that all of God’s creation is dependent on Yehovah. They all wait for him to give them their food in due time, or his timing (v 27). God gives to them and they gather what he provides. He opens his hand and they are satisfied with food (v 28). He hides his face and they are dismayed (depressed and terrified) when food is scarce and God takes away their spirit (gathers it in) and they expire (die-Ecc 3.20) and return to dust (v 29). But then he sends forth his Spirit and they are created (Gen 1.3), and God renews (“chadash”-the word for “new” in Heb 8.8, means “renewed”) the face of the ground. In other words, the regeneration and reproduction of other creatures replaces those that died (v 30).

Psa 104.31-35 speaks of praising Yehovah and his works in creation. The author has completed an overview of the creation and is overwhelmed by it it all. Let the glory (kivod, radiance) of Yehovah endure forever. Let Yehovah be glad in his works of creation (v 31). He looks to the earth in anger and it trembles in fear of punishment. He touches the mountains and they smoke (Deut 32.22). This is the downfall of the wicked (v 32). The author will sing to Yehovah as long as he lives, and he will sing praises to God while he has his being. The writer recognizes all of God’s wonders and it makes him want to sing (v 33). He wants his meditation and consideration of all of God’s works (including his mercy) to be pleasing to Yehovah. As far as he is concerned, he will rejoice in Yehovah (v 34). Let the sinners (chataim) be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked (rashim) be no more. He then says, Bless the Lord (Yehovah), O my soul. Praise the Lord (“HalleluYah”-a shortened form of Yehovah)!”

This verse gives us two categories of unbelievers. The Chataim (sinners) are the average sinners, called the “Intermediates.” They aren’t saved, but could be. Then we have the Rashim, or the wicked. They are the worst possible people you can imagine. They are worthless and desperately wicked. The Scriptures call them the “sons of Belial” and this is also a term for the False Messiah (v 35).

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Tying into the New Testament

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