Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 104b

The Poetic Creation Week

Genesis 1 begins: ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’, and then launches into a description of the Creation Week. Among other things this reminds us that our God is orderly. And as we get into the content of Psalm 104, we find the same order presented poetically. 

A simple lesson from this is that while the Lord expects us to do all things in the church ‘decently and in order’ (1 Cor 14), this does not mean there is no room for creativity.

Day One

‘Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment’ (v2a)

Though we considered this in detail yesterday, I cannot leave the subject without making mention of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. You’ll remember on that glorious occasion, ‘His raiment was white as the light’ (Matt 17:2). Peter, later on, describes it as Christ’s heavenly nobility (2 Pet 1:16). John, however, emphasises Christ’s holy nature (1 John 1:5).

Day Two

‘Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtainWho layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind’ (v2b,3)

Thinking back to Genesis, we remember that on the second day, God made a firmament between the waters. Now, as the psalmist considers the clouds above, he marvels not just that the LORD created it, but is in it.

No doubt conscious of Exodus, the psalmist meditates on the presence of the Lord with His people in the ‘cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night’ (Exo 13:22). He would consider ‘the strong east wind’ that blew ‘all night and made the sea dry land’ (Exo 14:21), and then his thoughts would turn to Mt Sinai and the tabernacle, where no doubt he would remember that ‘the LORD descended in the cloud’ (Exo 34:5) which ‘covered the tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle’ (Exo 40:34).

And so, as the psalmist looked up, he didn’t just see cumulonimbus clouds, or whatever they were, he saw the floor of the throneroom of heaven; he saw the chariot of God on the move, a reminder of continual presence of the LORD with His people; His guidance of them, and protection over them.

For us, how much more precious the thought of 1 Thess 4:17 becomes: ‘then we … shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air’.

Day Three

‘He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills … He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.’ (v10,13)

Verses 7-9 describe the process of the dry land appearing out of the waters that blanketed the whole earth (v6), but then beautifully the psalmist takes time to describe the blessings that followed.

He reminds us that this earth, upon which we live is not a flat, monotonous place, but carved with hills and valleys, and while the land is dry, it is not wholly so, for the LORD ‘sendeth the springs into the valleys’ and ‘he watereth the hills from his chambers’. Ample provision is made for the blessing of man and beast. 

How inspired the language of the psalmist, for the word ‘sendeth’ is the root of a particularly precious spring – ‘the pool of Siloam, which is by interpretation Sent’ (John 9:7). With reference to Isaiah 8:6, we understand this precious spring to be a type of Christ Himself, ‘sent’, ‘from his chambers’, to refresh His people with eternal life-giving water. Truly, when we find Christ ‘the wild asses quench their thirst’ (v11), and ‘shall never thirst’ again (John 4:14).

Day Four

‘the sun ariseth … man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. O LORD, how manifold are thy works!’ (v22-24)

Continuing our thoughts in John 9, the Lord replied to His disciples when they asked about the sin of the blind man whom the Lord would send to the pool of Siloam: ‘I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:4,5)

The Lord is saying that His time on earth is limited, and therefore every second counts. As the ‘light of the world’, He would take every opportunity to enlighten darkened souls ‘until the evening’, for certainly ‘the night cometh’. And when ‘it was night’ (John 13:30), the Son would look back on His work of the day, and say ‘I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do’ (John 17:4)

And taking up the words of the psalmist, we would exclaim: ‘O Lord, how manifold are thy works!’.

Then we challenge our own hearts: how well are we making use of the short time we have? We are now in the night season, it is true, but the ‘day is at hand … let us therefore put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly’ (Roms 13:12), making the most of every second. For do we not want to be able to stand with Paul and say: ‘the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith’ (2 Tim 4:6,7).

To be continued …

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