I will praise Him!
A Song of Ascents
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
(Psalm 121:1-8, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 104
Praise the LORD, my soul.
LORD my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
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.
He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.
He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth (NIV).
All of Psalm 104 is a poetic ode in praise of God’s creation. Like the previous psalm it begins and ends by calling us to praise the LORD.
The psalmist begins his description of creation at the beginning. By that I mean he begins with the LORD in the heavens. He is the source point. It’s a very fitting start since the LORD called into being all of creation—all that we can see, hear and examine. In the creation account we read, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). But here we read a more detailed—a more poetic description: The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
The God of the heavens separates the waters of sky and earth. He establishes the boundaries of the oceans. These are the events of the second and third day in the Genesis account, but here they are portrayed as a seamless whole. In all this, the LORD is the actor, the mover, the sole performer. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
And what a performance this is! It has no equal and no precedent. Land, sky and sea are His handiwork and do His bidding. They respond to the Master Builder, and so should we.
Response: LORD God, you are very great! I kneel before you, my awesome God! I praise you for your creation. It is magnificent because you are more than magnificent. All praise belongs to you. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there a particular aspect of creation that you are drawn to or enjoy, for example the stars, the oceans or the animal kingdom?
Reading: Psalm 98
Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity (NIV).
What comes to mind when you think of God’s judgment? Do you envision pictures of doom, gloom and destruction? If that’s your response, you are not alone, but maybe you have the wrong set of pictures? Maybe you have a wrong understanding of God? Should the redeemed live in dread of God’s judgment?
Psalm 98 is a joyous anthem of praise to God—praise for the salvation the LORD has won for us. The psalmist begins this psalm by calling us to sing to the LORD a new song. In today’s reading, that call for praise and worship is extended to all of nature. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands; let the mountains sing together for joy.
Have you seen any mountains singing for joy? Have you heard the rivers clap their hands? I love the pictures such thoughts put in my mind. In reality all of creation is speaking daily. The earth, sea and sky are telling of God’s mercy and glory. The setting sun shouts out the praises of God. Can you hear it?
According to the psalmist, there is a cause for this great celebration by the sea, the rivers and the mountains. These elements of creation are celebrating because the LORD is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity. In other words God’s judgment should bring joy not dread. The LORD will set things right.
For far too long we have lived in a world of injustice, suffering and death. When the LORD comes, He will bring all this pain and perversity to an end. The environmental degradation that we have caused will come to an end. The Eden that was lost because of mans’ sin will be restored. Once again we will have access to the Tree of Life. Best of all we will walk in sweet communion with our heavenly Father. All this is possible because of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. The power of sin was broken at the cross. Since God’s coming judgment will bring about all this glorious restoration, why wouldn’t we join the mountains as they sing for joy?
Many of us have a wrong understanding of God and a wrong understanding of the purpose for His judgment. His judgments are good. They bring about peace—the shalom of God. Here in Psalm 98 we have the promise of His word on that. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
Response: LORD God, in the past I have dreaded your judgment, but now I recognize your goodness. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. I want to see this world set right through your power and grace. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you fear God’s judgment? Is that always a good thing? Can it be misunderstood?
I will praise Him!
May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works—
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the LORD.
But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.
Praise the LORD, my soul.
Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 104:31-35, NIV)