Sunday, October 31, 2010

Psalm 104: God's Provision and a Call to Worship and to Care For Creation.

Psalm 104

1 Praise the LORD, my soul.

LORD my God, you are very great;

you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

2 The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment;

he stretches out the heavens like a tent

3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.

He makes the clouds his chariot

and rides on the wings of the wind.

4 He makes winds his messengers, [a]

flames of fire his servants.

5 He set the earth on its foundations;

it can never be moved.

6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;

the waters stood above the mountains.

7 But at your rebuke the waters fled,

at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;

8 they flowed over the mountains,

they went down into the valleys,

to the place you assigned for them.

9 You set a boundary they cannot cross;

never again will they cover the earth.

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;

it flows between the mountains.

11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;

the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;

they sing among the branches.

13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;

the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,

and plants for people to cultivate—

bringing forth food from the earth:

15 wine that gladdens human hearts,

oil to make their faces shine,

and bread that sustains their hearts.

16 The trees of the LORD are well watered,

the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

17 There the birds make their nests;

the stork has its home in the junipers.

18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;

the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons,

and the sun knows when to go down.

20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,

and all the beasts of the forest prowl.

21 The lions roar for their prey

and seek their food from God.

22 The sun rises, and they steal away;

they return and lie down in their dens.

23 Then people go out to their work,

to their labor until evening.

24 How many are your works, LORD!

In wisdom you made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,

teeming with creatures beyond number—

living things both large and small.

26 There the ships go to and fro,

and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27 All creatures look to you

to give them their food at the proper time.

28 When you give it to them,

they gather it up;

when you open your hand,

they are satisfied with good things.

29 When you hide your face,

they are terrified;

when you take away their breath,

they die and return to the dust.

30 When you send your Spirit,

they are created,

and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever;

may the LORD rejoice in his works—

32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,

who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the LORD all my life;

I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,

as I rejoice in the LORD.

35 But may sinners vanish from the earth

and the wicked be no more.

Praise the LORD, my soul.

Praise the LORD.

I’m using Tyndale’s ‘The One Year Bible to (strangely) read through the bible in a year and Psalm 104 was part of my bible reading for today. It’s a creation Psalm and focuses on God’s great creation and also his providence; that God acres for and provides for all his creation. It’s a Psalm that invites us all to give thanks to God for his goodness shown in this care for creation. I love the image of sea monsters; Leviathan frolicking in the ocean as they were made to do. It is great to see the wonderment and bounty of what God has made, eco-diversity expressing Gods creativity. Likewise it is good for us to remember that God is able to care for our needs. As Jesus says in the Sermon On The Mount

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?”

-Matthew 6:25-27

The Psalm also gives God’s people a solid foundation and challenge to care for and protect the ecosystem and environment that God has given to all creatures.

Creatures’ habitats are given as a gift from God, for them to live in and flourish. Be it the craggy mountain tops for mountain goats, right down to crags in the rocks for rodents like the Hyrax. Alongside that is the affirmation that humanity has been given land for cattle to graze and for crops and even the blessing of vineyards and to make oils to make the face glow (I think this is as close as it gets to a biblical mandate for the cosmetics industry. I fell asleep one time on holiday and woke up to find my kids taking this passage literally and shining my head with olive oil. Fortunately I was in the shade at the time otherwise I may have fried my brains (too late I hear some of you say).

The Psalm sees a God intended balance, our needs and the needs of creatures that express are expressions of God’s great power and love. Sadly as we read this psalm we can even see the way in which humans have had an adverse effect on creation. With lions in the Middle East being extinct and other animals mentioned here equally having their habitat and existence threatened. I live in a country that is very beautiful and has a clean green image, when I'm out driving across it (well more up and down it) I am amazed at the beautiful rolling hill country. But then I wonder how much more amazing and wonderful it must have been when it ws virgin native bush, barley 150 years ago and I am aware of the many native bird species that have disappeared or are on the endangered list. We have been guilty of thinking of our position in creation as being privileged and that giving us the right to pillage and misuse creation. To not be mindful of God’s creatures and the balance he has put into the world. To see empty land or non productive (for humans) land as waste land not realising that such places are part of God’s provision for all his creatures. We have been guilty of worshipping the creator and not being considerate of his creation.

Psalm 104 invites us again to consider the whole of God’s creation as gift and an expression of his creative power and goodness. Serving and worshipping God and rejoicing as also having an element of care and custodianship.

Lord God,

Thank you for the wonder of your creation,
the way you have provided for all your creatures,
you provision for us,
help us to see it and give you praise
to enjoy it and never loose the wow factor
In our worship help us also God to care for what you have made
to see it as gift,
to treat it with respect
to live in a way that all may have their share
to live in a way that all your creatures receive theirs.

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