Psalm 104 – Ecology as Performance Art

Psalm 104 Bible With Lily's Original Dark Chocolate

Today’s ChocolateLily’s Original Dark Chocolate

Today’s PassagePsalm 104

God is a mixed-media artist. One of his preferred media? Biomass.

You know me: I like my passages that discuss God as Creator, preceding all that exists and bringing the universe into being wholly on his own. When this subject comes up in the psalms, it’s the poetry of the cosmological argument. But today’s psalm focuses on a different aspect of God’s status as Creator. Here, he’s crafting the natural world in all its interlocking complexity, creating a massive moving diorama that humanity observes from the inside. It’s the poetry of the teleological argument. And it’s an angle which I, to my detriment, have tended to neglect in recent years.

Just for kicks, you can compare this psalm with Job 38-39. Both cite God as the one who, so to speak, schedules feeding time for the lions; the psalmist writes, “The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God” (104:21), while in the book of Job, God asks, “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens and lie in wait in their lair?” (Job 38:39-40). Many of the same animals receive mention: wild goats (Psa. 104:18, Job 39:1), wild donkeys (Psa. 104:11, Job 39:5-8), various birds (Psa. 104:12, 17; Job 38:41, 39:13-18), and others still. Under God’s direction, the water cycle also has its day in the sun (Psa. 104:10-11, 13; Job 38:25-30), with precipitation coming in forms proper to its season. To employ modern terms, God has designed earth’s ecology.

Seriously, read these passages for yourself. They’re great poetry. (And they’re probably even better in the original Hebrew; when am I gonna get to learning Hebrew?) But the point of all this natural art that God’s created–and the point of the poetic and lyrical art that the psalmist has composed about it–is to draw our attention to the universe’s Artist. The psalmist declares, “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live…Let my meditation be pleasing to Him” (104:33-34). As he puts his reflections into song, his aim and his hope is that he’s created something that brings joy to his Creator.

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