Bible blog 2337

Continuing my translation of Psalms 90-106

PSALM 104

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.

Praise Yah!

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.

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