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A Meditation of Psalm 104

by John Kunnathu

Psalm 104 (KJV)

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.

11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.

12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.

13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.

14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;

17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.

28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.

29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

31 The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.

The Lord, the dramatist behind the drama

Like Psalm 103, Psalm 104 also begins and ends with the same invocation—Bless the Lord, O my soul. The Lord blesses us; therefore, let us bless the Lord –that is the summary of psalm 103. Psalm 104 may be summarized with a slight change as follows: The Lord blesses all that exists; therefore, let us bless the Lord.

Shakespeare, the well-known English dramatist, made one of his characters compare the world to a stage, where the actors enter, play their part, and exit. We see a similar picture in Psalm 104. We see a grand stage that includes the entire world with all that exists, where actors constantly enter, act their part, and exit. The actors include not only human beings, but also animals, birds, fish, plants, the Sun, and the Moon. Staying invisible to the eyes of the audience is the director of the whole drama, the Lord. He created the stage –"established the earth upon its foundations". He directs the drama by moving around in His chariot –the clouds. Now and then He sends winds and flaming fire as His messengers.

When things happen on the stage, the audience does not often see the hand of the director. Grass does not simply grow, but He causes it to grow. Darkness does not come on its own, but He appoints it to come. He exhales, and the earth is filled with living beings; he opens His hands, and they all eat from them; He inhales, and they all get back to dust. The entire stage, with all its actors, trembles at a mere glare from Him. A touch is enough to make the mountains smoke.

It is a paradox that although we, the humans, often fail to see the presence of the director, the animals are not so blind. When the young lions get hungry, they seek their food from God. All the animals wait for God. They get greatly dismayed if God hides His face from them.

Here in this psalm, the poet is trying to present a theory of all that exists. Looking at the drama of existence, we cannot figure out what it all means. We ourselves appear on the stage, play our part, and exit. We do not get an opportunity to watch the entire drama, or to understand what it all means. The poet here makes an attempt to explain the whole drama by assuming the presence of the dramatist- director behind the stage. The poet does not pretend to understand the meaning of the whole drama. However, he/she assures us that although we do not understand the meaning of the drama of existence, there exists someone who understands it—the author and director of the drama.

Without the dramatist, a drama wouldn't make sense. Without the director behind the stage, the actions on the stage would not happen in a coordinated way. Unfortunately, ours is an age in which attempts have been made to explain the drama of existence without assuming the presence of the dramatist-director behind the stage. As the German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche made a madman cry out, "We have killed God—you and I".

See Also:

Hymn of a Grateful Heart: Psalm 137

Thanksgiving Psalm: Psalm 135

God Our Protector (Based on Psalm 91)

A Meditation of Psalms 105 and 106

A Meditation of Psalm 103

More Christian Prayers

More Prayers Useful to Many faiths

All Prayers

Prayer and Spirituality Infocenter

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