Other Prayers (9) – A Psalm of Praise

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
    you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
    he stretches out the heavens like a tent
    and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
    and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
    flames of fire his servants.

He set the earth on its foundations;
    it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
    they went down into the valleys,
    to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
    never again will they cover the earth.

He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
    the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
    and plants for people to cultivate—
    bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
    oil to make their faces shine,
    and bread that sustains their hearts.
The trees of the Lord are well watered,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
    the stork has its home in the junipers.
The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
    the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

He made the moon to mark the seasons,
    and the sun knows when to go down.
You bring darkness, it becomes night,
    and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
The lions roar for their prey
    and seek their food from God.
The sun rises, and they steal away;
    they return and lie down in their dens.
Then people go out to their work,
    to their labor until evening.

How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
    teeming with creatures beyond number—
    living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

All creatures look to you
    to give them their food at the proper time.
When you give it to them,
    they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
    they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,
    they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to the dust.
When you send your Spirit,
    they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works—
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    as I rejoice in the Lord.
But may sinners vanish from the earth
    and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.

  • Psalm 104

“While working on the Student Bible my colleague and I made a selection of great prayers of the Bible, which can be read in a two-week period, one prayer per day.  Some are intimate and private while others were delivered in a very public setting.  Each gives an actual example of a person talking to God about an important matter and teaches something unique about prayer:”

  • Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?

I will be intermittently away from the keyboard for much of many of the days for about two weeks.  I had been praying about what I could write during this period, or for this period.  I try to stay a few days ahead in my writing, but with my cataract surgeries, and – confession time a little laziness – along with the heavy doctor visit schedule, I was writing my posts just in time.  (Pardon the typos, if there were any.  Really my biggest problem is changing verb tense, at will, throughout paragraphs, and within a sentence as Yancey does in the quote, but homonyms and blatant typos do exist after several reviews.)  I had just read Yancey’s book, and I thought of his list of prayers.  The chapter on Prayers in the Bible had started with the Lord’s prayer, gone to the Psalms as a whole, and included a general discussion on the prayers of Paul in his various letters.  Then Yancey lists fourteen prayers after the paragraph above.  The thought of this list struck me.  Then when I re-read the page in the book, the words ‘two-week period’ struck me.  Rather than the Holy Spirit striking me out with a third strike, I decided to write a few ideas – maybe some really short posts – for each prayer.  I will copy the Yancey quote and this paragraph for each of the fourteen, so if you read every day, you can skip this with the remaining parts.

Here is another Psalm, but the tone is almost completely different.  Like the song of Miriam and Moses (the part 2 of this study), this Psalm is a song of praise.  But the praise is in a different vein entirely.  The song of Exodus 15 praises God for what He did in Exodus 14.  Psalm 104 praises God for who He is.

Just as with the confession prayer a couple of days ago, Part 7, this praise prayer is specific.  In a way, it is rather odd in the specific creatures mentioned.

Wild goats and Hyraxes are mentioned.  While wild goats might be widely known, the hyrax (or also called rock rabbit – although not all hyrax live among rocks and they are not rabbits) is a small creature, with hoof-like toes, four on each front foot and three on each back foot.  The hyrax eats vegetables only.  While it may appear to look like a rodent, the genetic makeup of a hyrax is closer to an elephant or a manatee, much larger creatures.  Did the larger ones not survive because it was harder to hide in the rocks?

As for the sea, the Leviathan is mentioned, an extremely large sea monster – untamable by man, according to the book of Job.  Is this an ancient sea creature that has escaped any fossil discovery or is it simply mythical?  Leviathan is mentioned 6 times in the Bible, three in Job, 2 in Psalms, and 1 in Isaiah.  Most other ancient cultures have a giant sea serpent creature in their mythology.  Could it be that the ancient sea monster existed, was observed by man, and then disappeared without a trace?  People say that the story of Jonah could not have happened because the fish bones have not been found.  Could Leviathan have swallowed Jonah?  Could the bones be in a deep trench in the ocean, covered by layers upon layers of silt or limestone?  The Leviathan, and Jonah’s fish, cannot be proven to not exist simply because the bones have not been found.  Or could the odd references to the Leviathan be mentioned because ancient people from all cultures shared the folk lore and all nations of the time of the writing would know what it was?

The key to praise prayers is just as in confession, saying a praise prayer of “God you are the creator of the universe” is kind of weak.  We need to be specific.  As we start thinking of the details in God’s creation or at the cellular level how God has helped us in the past hour, we cannot help but be more impressed with a God that was so impressive to start with that we cannot find the words, but this psalmist gave it a try.  Maybe we should too.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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