Psalm 104: You Are Very Great!
May 10, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Once more we are being called upon to the “bless the Lord.” What it means to “bless the Lord” we considered yesterday. We said that “to bless God is akin to praising God; blessing God is a particular kind of praise of God. It is to say that God in his own person, and in his own deeds and actions, is blessed, good, perfect, and right.”
This psalm, though, adds to our praises because it gives us—at some length and at great detail—a magnificent reason to praise God. It tells us what that reason is in the first verse, and then follows through to expand on that reason throughout the rest of the psalm. “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great!”
The reason this psalm advances for us to bless God is simply that he is “very great.” Our vision of God still tends to be clouded by our capacity to conceive of greatness. Too often, while we do not build physical idols in our minds, we form ideas of God that are impoverished enough to be idolatrous on occasion. This psalm helps us expand that vision of God by explaining all the ways that God is “very great.” From the beginning until verse 30, the psalmist explains the multiple greatness of God as shown in creation.
- The “heavens” (that is the night sky which shows the myriad stars) show God’s greatness, verse 2.
- The “earth” shows God’s greatness, verse 5. When it says the earth should “never be moved,” it does not mean that the earth is eternal, much less that it is doesn’t move around the sun; it means that the foundation of the earth is solid because of God’s support of the earth.
- The flood and the promise not to flood the world again is alluded to up until verse 9: that too shows God’s greatness!
- The springs and rain show God’s greatness (up until verse 13).
- The provision of food and drink shows God’s greatness (verses 14-15).
- Trees and mountains show God’s greatness (verses 16-18).
- The seasons, day and night, show God’s greatness (up until verse 23).
- The multiplicity of creatures on land and sea shows God’s greatness (verse 24-26).
- God’s mastery over the cycle of life and death shows God’s greatness (verses 27-30).
There are many other things that could be added to this list, but it gives a sense of how very great God is by observing the nature of creation. If you are finding it hard to “bless the Lord,” look around you, look above you, look beneath you, look inside you. There is greatness revealed, the greatness of God! (cf. Romans 1:20).
Having therefore mastered enough spiritual resources to motivate him to “bless the Lord”—all, in this instance, circling around the greatness of God as shown in creation—now the psalmist does himself bless the Lord! Verses 31-35 are extended praise of God. If you are finding it hard to praise God—to sing the songs in church, to praise God before praying—spend some time on the first 30 verses of this psalm. And let that vision of greatness move you to praise God, to “sing to the Lord as long as you live,” to wish that those who insist and persist in rebelling against God would either come to their senses and follow God or not be allowed to continue in their damaging rebellion, and therefore to, as the psalm concludes:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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