Psalms 104 Commentary

Psalm 104 God’s earth

The theme of this song of praise is the wisdom and power of God as seen in nature. The song begins by considering the splendour of the heavens. The light of the sun, the expanse of sky reaching down to meet the earth on the horizon, the movement of clouds blown by the wind, the flashes of lightning – all these things speak of the magnificence of God who dwells in and rules over the universe (1-4).

Land and sea also display the greatness of God. He determined where they should be and how far they should extend (5-7). Mountains and rivers show God’s complete control over the powers of nature, so that the land is well watered and able to support life (8-13). Because of God’s control, the earth supplies people and animals with food (14-15), and with all the other materials necessary for them to live in safety and security (16-18). He arranges seasons and weather, night and day, so that the natural world can meet the needs of the various forms of life (19-23).

Before going on, the psalmist pauses to praise God for the vastness of his creation and for the wisdom that designed and maintains it (24). He then returns to his consideration of the natural world by showing how the immeasurable sea speaks further of God’s greatness. It is full of the most wonderful creatures.

Ships sail on it for distances farther than the eye can see or the mind imagine (25-26). God is the one who provides all creatures with life and food, and who determines how long each should live (27-30). He also controls the earthquake and the volcano (31-32).

In view of the devastating power that God has within his control, the psalmist prays that he will use it to cleanse the earth of sin. Then he will have complete pleasure in his creation and in the worship that his creatures offer him (33-35).

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