Psalms 104-106
(Holy Creation)
June 22nd

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

You have set the earth firmly on its foundations,

and it will never be moved.

- Psalm 104:5 (GNB)

Summary of Chapters

This trio of Psalms serves as crescendo to close the penultimate book (Book IV) of Psalms. It ushers in the conclusion by reviewing many events from the first five books of the Bible.

Psalm 104 goes back to the beginning to present a beautiful poetic version of the creation of the world that had been previously described in Genesis. The author alternates between addressing God and addressing the people as he explains the power of God. The LORD defined the boundaries of land and designed the ways that water sustains animal and plant life:

    He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
       it flows between the mountains.
    They give water to all the beasts of the field;
       the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
    The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
       they sing among the branches.
    He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
       the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
    He makes grass grow for the cattle,
       and plants for people to cultivate—
       bringing forth food from the earth:
    wine that gladdens human hearts,
       oil to make their faces shine,
       and bread that sustains their hearts.

    - Psalm 104:10-15 (NIV)

The author also praises God for the creation and care of all creatures and for his defining the cycles of day and night. The author finishes the Psalm with a commitment for lifelong praise and a request to eliminate the wicked.

The 105th Psalm reviews the emigration of Joseph and his brothers to Egypt, followed by their initial prosperity and the eventual hatred of them by the Egyptians, as planned by God and recorded in Genesis 37-41 and beyond. It then describes the exodus orchestrated by God with Moses and Aaron serving as ground leaders as written in Exodus 1-3 and beyond. The author concludes by reminding his audience that God gave the Promised Land to the people so “So they could do everything he told them— could follow his instructions to the letter. Hallelujah! (Ps 105:45 - MSG)”

Psalm 106 begins with thanks and then a somewhat detailed confession on behalf of the people who rebelled during the exodus and in later times. The psalmist acknowledges eight sins in specific locations. He also recounts the punishment given by God and the repeated mercies when he came to their rescue, including the time that Phineas acted on God’s behalf to punish the evil-doers, as noted in Numbers 25. This one must have been written during the exile after the fall of the temple because the author concludes by asking God to save them again by gathering them from the nations where they had been dispersed. This conclusion is followed by a doxology for the end of book IV of the Psalms:

    Save us, LORD, our God;
    gather us from among the nations
    That we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in praising you.

    Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!
    Let all the people say, Amen!

    - Psalm 106:47-48 (NIV)

Reflection and Application

Psalm 104 is pleasant to read through several times in order to more fully appreciate some of the details of God’s design. The theologian William Barclay delivered an insightful analysis of this Psalm in his book, The Lord is My Shepherd. Barclay is well-known for his published commentaries on the New Testament, but this was his only one on the Old Testament. In it he delves into a select group of Psalms - this one is the last one in the book, and may have been the last commentary he ever wrote.

At the end of his analysis, Barclay reveals three great truths about this Psalm (1):

    1. It describes what our attitude should be towards the world - we ought to give praise to God when we observe anything in his creation - a small flower, a delicate raindrop, a majestic cloud, or a towering tree

    2. It shows us the character of the world, which includes beautiful but apparently useless things and ugly but useful things - all of which serve God's purpose.

    3. It describes the relationship of God to the world: He transcends the world and is immersed in it at the same time.

Another perspective on this Psalm is that the discussion of water in this Psalm can be taken literally and symbolically. We are as dependent on God’s word in the same way that the earth and its creatures are dependent on water. God designed the water and defined his word. Our bodies would perish without water, as would plants and other animals. Our souls will perish without God’s water. Take some time listen to the sound of water as it comes down as rain or trickles down a stream and reflect on the word that God has trickled down to us.

Here’s a good phrase from Psalm 104 to include in any devotional time: “May my meditation be pleasing to you, O God (Ps 104:34 - NIV).” That statement reflects the right posture towards our heavenly father. Some translations present this verse as a statement rather than a request, for example, “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD (KJV).” In either case, the approach demonstrates an appropriate degree of humbleness.

Psalm 105 can serve to remind us that God gave us this world so that we might obey his word. That is the main purpose. The rest of our activities are secondary.

Have we forgotten or ignored his word? We can turn to the last Psalm in this book (106) and remind ourselves how many times God has offered mercy. If you have gone out of bounds, cry for help and forgiveness so that God will pull you back on to the playing field.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What experiences have you had growing plants or shrubs? How often did you (do you) water them?
    2. What phrases do you like to use when you address God?
    3. Have you strayed from God and are afraid to seek his mercy? Be assured that he is waiting for you with open arms. Approach him with humility, confess sincerely, and accept his mercy like a gentle summer shower. What are you waiting for?

    Recommended Prayer
    God, we acknowledge that you created everything to serve your purpose. You are above us and with us. Help us to be with you.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) Barclay, William, The Lord is My Shepherd, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1973 p.152-153

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Psalms 107-111 (Curse Our Enemies?)

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