Continuing my translation of Psalms 90-106
Bless Yahweh, my soul!
Yahweh my God, you are very great
You robe yourself with grace and royalty
Wrapping yourself in light like a garment
Spreading out the skies like a tent
Resting the beams of your rooms on the waters of heaven.
You make the clouds your chariot
And ride on the wings of the wind.
You make the winds your messengers
Flames of fire your attendants.
You fixed the earth on its foundations
Forever and forever unshakable.
The great deep clothed it completely;
The waters rose high above the hills;
In face of your frown they fled
At the voice of your thunder they vanished.
The mountains stood up, the valleys sank down
To the place you appointed for them.
You set bounds for the waters that they shall not break
That they shall not come back to cover the earth.
You turn springs into freshets
That flow through the mountains
To give drink to all the beasts of the bush:
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the air build nests
Amongst the foliage they give voice.
From your high home you water the hills.
The earth is filled with the fruit of your labour:
You cause grass to grow for the cattle
And crops for human cultivation
So that they may bring forth food from the earth;
Wine to make merry the human heart
Oil to give a glow to their faces
Bread that upholds the human heart.
Yahweh’s trees are well-watered
The cedars of Lebanon which he planted
Where the birds build nests
And the stork sets up home in the cypress.
The high mountains are the haunt of goats
The crags are a refuge for rock-badgers.
He made the moon to mark appointed times;
The sun knows the time of its setting.
You put darkness in place and it is night
When all the creatures of the woods creep out.
The young lions roar for prey
Hoping to get their food from God.
When the sun rises they retire
To lie down in their lairs.
Then a man goes out to his work,
And to his labour, until evening.
How many creatures you have made, Yahweh,
In wisdom you have made them all:
The world is full of your wealth.
There is the vast unmeasured sea
In which there are swarms without number
Living things both small and great.
There the ships move
There too Leviathan whom you made as your playmate.
All of them look to you
To give them food when they need it.
You give and they gather
You open your hand, they are filled with good things.
You hide your face, they are fearful;
You take back their breath, they die
And return to their dust.
You send out your spirit, they are created
And you refresh the face of the ground.
May Yahweh’s glory last forever!
May Yahweh be happy in his handiwork!
He looks at the earth, it trembles;
He touches the hills and they smoulder.
I will sing to Yahweh while I live
I will make music for my God as long as I last.
May my sentiments be sweet to him
For I will rejoice in Yahweh.
May sinners cease to exist on earth
And criminals be no more!
Bless Yahweh, my soul.
This is such a beautiful psalm that comment is almost superfluous. Some things to note:
Yahweh is the creator God but he is intimately involved with his creation, from wrapping himself in light to playing with Leviathan. His creation is a partner rather than a distant realm, but its creatures are nevertheless utterly dependent on their creator.
The created world is an ecosystem with a place and a time for all living things. The beautiful section of night and day, featuring nocturnal animals and human beings, celebrates a creative adaptation which Yahweh assists.
Pleasure in an important dimension of the psalm: the psalmist takes pleasure in the universe; Yahweh takes pleasure in his creation and his creatures. Rejoicing in Yahweh is a summary of the psalmist’s faith.
Some scholars have wondered if the concluding prayer for the annihilation of sinners is a pious addition to such a positive poem. But maybe it’s a brief allusion to the fact that some humans constitute a denial of God’s perfection.