The Remarkable Ending of Psalm 104

August 15, 2012

In Psalm 104, the Psalmist exults in the glories of God for the first 34 of the 35 verses in the psalm:

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul.

O LORD my God, thou art very great;
thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment:

who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters:
who maketh the clouds his chariot:
who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

5 Who laid the foundations of the earth,
that it should not be removed for ever.

6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment:
the waters stood above the mountains.

7 At thy rebuke they fled;
at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.
8 They go up by the mountains;
they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over;
that they turn not again to cover the earth.

10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys,
which run among the hills.
11 They give drink to every beast of the field:
the wild asses quench their thirst.

12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation,
which sing among the branches.

13 He watereth the hills from his chambers:
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.

14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
and herb for the service of man:
that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man,
and oil to make his face to shine,
and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap;
the cedars of Lebanon,
which he hath planted;
17 Where the birds make their nests:
as for the stork,
the fir trees are her house.
18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats;
and the rocks for the conies.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons:
the sun knoweth his going down.
20 Thou makest darkness,
and it is night:

wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.
21 The young lions roar after their prey,
and seek their meat from God.
22 The sun ariseth,
they gather themselves together,
and lay them down in their dens.

23 Man goeth forth unto his work
and to his labour until the evening.

24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works!
in wisdom hast thou made them all:
the earth is full of thy riches.

25 So is this great and wide sea,
wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
26 There go the ships:
there is that leviathan,
whom thou hast made to play therein.

27 These wait all upon thee;
that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.
28 That thou givest them they gather:
thou openest thine hand,
they are filled with good.

29 Thou hidest thy face,

they are troubled:
thou takest away their breath,
they die,
and return to their dust.

30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit,
they are created:
and thou renewest the face of the earth.

31 The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever:
the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

32 He looketh on the earth,
and it trembleth:
he toucheth the hills,
and they smoke.

33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live:
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

34 My meditation of him shall be sweet:
I will be glad in the LORD.

He concludes the psalm by exhorting himself to bless the Lord and then praising the Lord:

Bless thou the LORD, O my soul.
Praise ye the LORD (35c-d).

He thus begins and ends the psalm by exhorting himself in the same way (to bless the Lord).

In the first half of his concluding statement, however, the psalmist expresses his longing for something that at first glance seems remarkably contrary to the tenor of virtually everything else in the Psalm:

Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth,
and let the wicked be no more (35a-b).

What are we to make of these remarkable statements in the ending of the psalm? How do we explain that this one who was so taken with the greatness of God and His goodness to all His creation should end this glorious meditation about God with an intense longing for the annihilation of all the wicked from the earth?

Because these words are not just the words of the psalmist but also words inspired by the Holy Spirit, we are to learn from them that having such a longing and praying for God to do so is not inconsistent with having a heart that loves and glorifies God supremely; rather, it is only supreme love for God that elicits such sentiments from the heart of man.

Let’s allow God to renew our minds so that our longing and desire fully reflect His glory of being the One who destroys the wicked out of His earth so that unrepentant sinners are no more (cf. Ps. 119:119).

Rajesh

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