Providence at Work

Psalm 104 opens with the same phrase that began the previous psalm, “Bless the LORD, O my soul!” In fact, the same phrase appears in the final verse of both psalms as well. Thus, they are linked not only by their proximity but also by their form. However, the connection grows even stronger when we examine their contents. A quick comparison of the wording found in Psalm 103:20-21 and Psalm 104:4 is sufficient to demonstrate that the latter psalm picks up the same theme introduced in Psalm 103:19-22 as if it were too grand a thought to treat so sparsely. And I must agree. In a world that worships at the altar of scientific arrogance coupled with philosophical nonsense, Psalm 104 offers a gentle reminder that a majestic Creator not only made the heavens and the earth but also provided a means to sustain it for as long as needed to fulfill its purpose as the home of those made in the image of God.

The psalmist presents creation as the royal robe of the King of kings (Psa. 104:1-2), a fitting metaphor signifying the grandeur of the One one who reigns, and then proceeds to describe creation in all its glory. Nature did not work itself out through millennia, but the LORD established the interaction of heat from the sun, air in the atmosphere, and water throughout to create the phenomena we see displayed in the weather, all carried on through God’s providence, as the role of angels makes clear (Psa. 104:2-4). While the LORD created the earth as the ideal environment for man, the subsequent flood of Noah changed its landscape and atmosphere tremendously. Nevertheless, the LORD’s care continued, causing the floodwaters to abate, the storms to retreat, and the rainbow to come as a reminder of the finality of that form of judgment as well as His promised future care (Psa. 104:5-9)—providence. The LORD ensured that water now would nourish the ground and quench the thirst of all His creation (Psa. 104:10-13). Through the LORD’s providence, He provided food for all creation, both for animals and men, as well the means for shelter (Psa. 104:14-18). His providence gave night, with the moon for light and opportunity for nocturnal animals to find their food (Psa. 104:19-21), and then gave day so man can see to do his work (Psa. 104:22-23). The oceans and seas are home to countless other creatures, but the LORD cares for them as well (Psa. 104:24-29). Indeed, His providence ensures their ongoing life (Psa. 104:30). Then, in earnest, the psalmist, building to a crescendo, moves His focus to man, just as God did the week of creation when He declared finally with the creation of both man and woman that it was very good (Psa. 104:31). But man needs guidance, prompting the psalmist’s allusion to the giving of the Law on Sinai (Psa. 104:32), and for this attention and care—a care that extends beyond the realm of nature to embrace the soul and eternity—we should respond with reverent worship in praise to the God (Psa. 104:33) and fill our minds with His will so that our lives might please Him, bring us joy, and avoid the judgment of those who ignore the One to Whom they owe so much (Psa. 104:34-35).

“Bless the LORD, O my soul!” This simple phrase declares the adoration due to the One who made us—a love born out of dependence, nurtured through life, and matured into an eternal relationship, a relationship that extends to the depths of the soul. The realization that only God could be responsible for the existence of man and the entire universe demands the conclusion and exclamation, “O LORD my God, You are very great.” But He deserves so much more, because He has done so much more. The LORD is not simply our Creator, but also our Provider. He not only provides for our bodies but also for our spirits. Our God sees in us the possibilities of eternity, and for this we should respond with adoration, “Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!“ (Psa. 104:35b).

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