Psalm 104: What are We to Meditate on?

earthI try to be aware of what is going on in the world. We are not meant to live our lives in isolation from the problems on earth and the needs of others. And so I listen to the news and read online articles about the latest hot spot and crisis. I try to be informed about politics, what’s happening in our government, economic policies, and how that affects the middle class and poor. But if we spend all of our time reflecting on these, we may end up overwhelmed and in despair.

We need something that will lift us above ourselves and help us see beyond our current reality.

Psalm 104 does this. The writer focuses on the vastness, the wonders of God who created this world. God is ever in the forefront, the writer and his situation is kept in the background.

For the writer, all of life tells of the glory of God: the heavens (“You have spread out the heavens like a tent-cloth; you have constructed your palace upon the waters. You make the clouds your chariot; you travel on the wings of the wind.” 2-4); the earth (You fixed the earth upon its foundation, not to be moved forever.” 5); and the ocean (“With the ocean, as with a garment you covered it; above the mountains the waters stood, at your rebuke they fled at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.” 6-7). God sets boundaries for water, “You set a limit they may not pass, nor shall they cover the earth again.” (9)

God sends water to drink and raises grass and vegetation for our use: “Producing bread from the earth, and wine to gladden men’s hearts, so that their faces gleam with oil and bread fortifies the hearts of men.” (14b-15)

God made the moon and the sun (19-20) and all the animals on earth and in the sea. God provides food for all. “They all look to you to give them food in due time.” (27)

God in creation is truly great: “How manifold are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you have wrought them all—the earth is full of your creatures.”(24)

The psalmist ends as he begins, by singing God’s praises. “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.” (33-34)

The order in creation is based on God’s wisdom, not human wisdom. As one commentator noted: “There is, in fact, in the psalm a philosophy of the cosmos, for the psalmist recognizes a beneficent providence in the ordering of the world. Nothing is made for itself alone, but each is made for another so that the needs of all are fully met.” (The Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 4)

There is an order in the universe, ordained by God. If all people would recognize and live by that order, many of the world’s problems would be solved. But we don’t and so the problems remain.

It pleases God that we are concerned about others and about the state of our world, but sometimes we need to simply rest in the Lord, trusting in God’s wisdom and marveling at the wonders of God’s creation.

What do you meditate on each day? Do you let the cares of the world bring you down?

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