By Maria Fontaine
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I was listening to Psalm 104. I think this is the most beautiful description of creation I’ve ever heard. I can almost feel God’s magnificent power sweeping through the heavens, pausing here and there to fine-tune the infinitely intricate details, shaping perfection and life into its many forms! It’s like a word painting forming before our eyes in all its glory! No matter how many times I’ve heard this Psalm, it never fails to stir me into wholehearted praise for our Creator. I hope you will take a few moments to share this experience and let it come to life in your heart and mind.
I’ve found that the best way for me to absorb something like this is to take each verse or description and try to visualize it. As you read, try to see it in your imagination, or even ask the Lord to give you a vision of His workings. With each verse where the psalmist praises God, we can join him in praising, too. It can make the experience with Him a meaningful time of worship.
Try to envision these elements of creation erupting with life at God’s command. Imagine the raging turmoil as the water flees from the land as the mountains rise higher and higher toward the sky. Picture wave upon wave of greens and blues and brilliant colors swirling across the barren land as He “clothes” the earth like a living being. Imagine the absolute awe of watching God in His chariot of clouds, soaring from horizon to horizon, drawing the rain in His wake, like vast curtains falling, to ensure that life will flourish in even the tiniest crevice.
Marvel at the Creator of the entire universe tenderly shielding a tiny flower or watching with joy as even the smallest creature brings yet more life into being. Consider the wonder of the intricacies of His plans to provide not only what we need but those things that can bring us pleasure—the tastes of food, wine to make us merry, the oil of the olive for our skin.
Of course, in this Psalm, the writer can only briefly summarize the immense work of creation and all its intricacies. There’s so much more that awaits our discovery!
1 Let all that I am praise the Lord.
O Lord my God, how great you are!
You are robed with honor and majesty.
2 You are dressed in a robe of light.
You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens;
3 you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds.
You make the clouds your chariot;
you ride upon the wings of the wind.
4 The winds are your messengers;
flames of fire are your servants.
5 You placed the world on its foundation
so it would never be moved.
6 You clothed the earth with floods of water,
water that covered even the mountains.
7 At your command, the water fled;
at the sound of your thunder, it hurried away.
8 Mountains rose and valleys sank
to the levels you decreed.
9 Then you set a firm boundary for the seas,
so they would never again cover the earth.
10 You make springs pour water into the ravines,
so streams gush down from the mountains.
11 They provide water for all the animals,
and the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds nest beside the streams
and sing among the branches of the trees.
13 You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home,
and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor.
14 You cause grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for people to use.
You allow them to produce food from the earth—
15 wine to make them glad,
olive oil to soothe their skin,
and bread to give them strength.
16 The trees of the Lord are well cared for—
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests,
and the storks make their homes in the cypresses.
18 High in the mountains live the wild goats,
and the rocks form a refuge for the hyraxes.1
19 You made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to set.
20 You send the darkness, and it becomes night,
when all the forest animals prowl about.
21 Then the young lions roar for their prey,
stalking the food provided by God.
22 At dawn they slink back
into their dens to rest.
23 Then people go off to their work,
where they labor until evening.
24 O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the ocean, vast and wide,
teeming with life of every kind,
both large and small.
26 See the ships sailing along,
and Leviathan, which you made to play in the sea.
27 They all depend on you
to give them food as they need it.
28 When you supply it, they gather it.
You open your hand to feed them,
and they are richly satisfied.
29 But if you turn away from them, they panic.
When you take away their breath,
they die and turn again to dust.
30 When you give them your breath, life is created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
31 May the glory of the Lord continue forever!
The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!
32 The earth trembles at his glance;
the mountains smoke at his touch.
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
I will praise my God to my last breath!
34 May all my thoughts be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let all sinners vanish from the face of the earth;
let the wicked disappear forever.
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!—Psalm 104 NLT
Originally published September 2019. Adapted and republished May 2022.
Read by Carol Andrews. Music by John Listen.
1 Small, thickset, herbivorous mammals in the order Hyracoidea. Hyraxes are well-furred, rotund animals with short tails. Typically, they measure between 30 and 70 cm (12 and 28 in) long and weigh between 2 and 5 kg (4.4 and 11 lb).