Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 104a

God’s Greatness Revealed

Psalms 103 and 104 were likely both written by David at the same time, having similar structure and content. Note how they are both book-ended by the one refrain: ‘Bless the LORD, O my soul’.

The difference is that 103 focuses on the greatness of God, as seen in our Redemption, while this psalm considers the greatness of God as seen in Creation.

I find it interesting that Redemption comes before Creation. In Romans, Paul sets Creation first – a testimony to the unsaved: ‘For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen … even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse’ (Roms 1:20). Then Redemption follows for those who believe: ‘Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (Roms 3:24).

But, while the unregenerate can look at Creation in awe, and perhaps recognise that a powerful God must be the source, only the redeemed will truly see God revealed in all His glorious greatness, and will be moved to worship.

Garments of Glory

O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.’ (v1)

As the psalmist looks at the created world, which he will shortly detail, he sees it as a garment of the LORD’s glory, showing forth His greatness.

The word ‘honour’ has the sense of beauty, splendour, grandeur, and reveals the awesomeness of our God. I vividly remember the first time I saw the Alps. On a school trip to Austria, and driving through Germany, we came around a bend in the road, and I was awestruck: the size and beauty of these majestic mountains was unlike anything I had seen before.

These are a part of the Lord’s garment of honour, as are so many other parts of our world and this universe. Sitting around a camp fire, on our honeymoon in Nova Scotia, we were captivated each and every night by the splendour of the Milky Way. There is a beauty in the natural world that we do not tire of seeing. Indeed, it does our souls good, especially when it turns our hearts to worship. For if the garments are such, how much greater our God?

In awe, bow our knees and say with the psalmist: ‘O LORD my God, thou art very great’.

But these are garments of ‘majesty’, as well as ‘honour’, and the thought in the word ‘majesty’ is of the ornamental additions to the garment that give dignity and honour to the bearer, such as the chain of office, a diamond brooch, medals of honour etc. And as we read through the rest of the psalm, David identifies specific acts of creation, each a medal of honour as it were, pinned to this garment of God’s creative glory.

And as we consider them, each is an opportunity to bow our knees; to praise and honour our God; to once again say, ‘O LORD my God, thou art very great’.

God’s Work Coat

‘Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment’ (v2)

David begins his consideration where Genesis 1 begins: ‘And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light” (Gen1:3), and as he carries down the psalm his thoughts loosely follow the same order of creation.

In this poetic form, David envisions the LORD stepping into His workshop, and before doing anything else, putting on His work coat. These are no dirty overalls; no drab technicians coat; not even a spotless medical coat. The LORD wraps Himself in the brilliance and radiance of light.

That light has a twofold role: it is going to reveal God to His creation, and at the same time hide God from His creation. How can this be? Consider when someone shines a bright torch upon us in the dark, they instantly reveal their presence, but their person is still hidden behind the light … until that is, they would speak and become identifiable.

The same is true of God. Theologians talk about general revelation and special revelation. In the light of creation, God’s presence is generally revealed, but not His person. For that, we need the specific revelation of His Word: Scripture, and ultimately Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who is ‘the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person’ (Hebs 1:3).

Now that we know the Son, we know God in person, and we can enjoy so much more of the LORD from the creation around us.

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