*Creator God, Keeping Everything Alive!

Psalm 104

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 104

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Gordon Churchyard

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Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the Hebrew Bible.

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Jesus said, "Are not two *sparrows sold for a farthing? But not one of them falls to the ground without your Father (knowing)". (Matthew 10:29) (A sparrow is a small bird. A farthing is a small coin.)

Psalm 104: 1 - 9

v1 - v2   I say to myself, "*Praise the *LORD!"
  *LORD, my God, you are very great!
  (As a person wears clothes), you wear *honour and *majesty and light.
  You have put the skies as a roof (over the earth).

v3   You have built your home above the waters that are over the skies.
  The clouds carry you and you ride on the wind.

v4   The winds carry your messages
  and burning fires are your servants.

v5   (The *LORD) built the earth on its *foundations.
  Nobody will ever move it.

v6   You covered it with the deep (sea) as clothes (cover a person).
  The waters were higher than the mountains.

v7   When you shouted (the waters) ran away.
  At the sound of your *thunder they *fled.

v8   (The waters) moved over the mountains.
  They went down into the valleys.
  They went to the place that you had made for them.

v9   You made a mark that they could not cross.
  Never again will (the waters) cover the earth.

The Story of Psalm 104

Many Bible students think that David wrote Psalm 104. But it does not say that he did. It is about God as the Creator. "Creator" means "someone who makes something". The Bible always uses the word "creator" in a special way. It means that the person that makes something is God, or the LORD. LORD is a special name for God that his servants use.

What Psalm 104: 1 - 9 means

This is a long psalm, so it is easier to study it in parts. Verses 1-9 are about God creating (making) the earth and the sky. Because God did this, the psalm starts, "*Praise the *LORD". "Praise" means "say that someone is great". Then the psalmist (the person that wrote the psalm) says three things about God. He is:

 ·   someone with honour. This means someone that is famous because they are honest. You can believe that they will always do what is right. They will always say what is true. They will always be fair to people.

  ·   someone with majesty. Majesty is what a king or a queen has. It describes their power and how great they are.

  ·   someone with light. The easy way to understand this is that God is as the sun. He shines with a very great light. But remember ... he is not the sun! He created (made) the sun, so he is greater than the sun!

God wears all this as people wear their clothes. We do not see people, only their clothes. We do not see God. We only see his clothes ... his *honour and his *majesty, which make him shine as the sun shines.

This part of the psalm then describes what God did when he created (made) everything.

The skies are as a roof over the earth, (verse 2). The skies seem to rest on the mountains! God’s home is heaven. He built it "above the waters that are over the skies", (verse 3). He "built the earth on its *foundations", (verse 5). When you want to build something, you start with the foundations. The building is on top of the foundations. The foundations were strong, so nobody would ever move the earth. Then the waters above the skies came down on the mountains. They became rivers and seas when God shouted at them, (verses 7-9). The burning fires in verse 4 maybe lightning, that lights up the sky in a great storm. In verse 7 there is a good example of *Hebrew *poetry. Poetry is a special way to use words. The *psalmist wrote in the Hebrew language. The first part and the second part of verse 7 mean the same thing. Thunder is the loud noise we hear in the sky in a great storm. The *Jews thought that it was the voice of God. (Jews are people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.) "Fled" is another word for "ran away". So, "when you shouted they ran away" and "at the sound of your thunder they fled" both mean the same!

We do not speak about the earth and sky as the *psalmist did. But we still believe that God *created the earth, the sky and everything else. We do not know where heaven, the home of God, really is. But we believe that it is somewhere. Sheol was where *Jews believed that they went when they died. Most Christians believe that God’s people go to be with him in heaven (his home) when they die.

In verse 9, we read "never again will the waters cover the earth". Some Bible students think that this is about Noah's Flood, when waters covered the earth. They did cover the earth when they came from above the skies. They are not there any more, but in the rivers and seas. There will never be another flood as Noah’s Flood. This is good news when many people are afraid of "global warming". This means that the earth (a ball or globe) is getting hotter, so the ice will become water and flood (cover with water) the earth. The *psalmist said that this would not happen. He knew what God had told Noah in Genesis 9:11: "There will never be another flood to destroy the earth".

Psalm 104: 10 - 23

v10   You make water come out of the ground into the valleys.
  (You make the rivers) go between the hills.

v11   They give water to every wild animal.
  The wild *donkeys drink from them.

v12   The birds of the air make their homes (by the streams)
  and they sing from the trees near (the streams).

v13   You pour water on to the mountains from your home above the sky.
  The earth is happy with the results of what you do.

v14 - v15   You make grass to grow for the cows and sheep.
  And (you make) plants (grow) that people can use.
  This is how people get food from the earth:
  ·   wine (alcohol) that makes people happy,
  ·   oil that makes people’s faces shine, and
  ·   bread that makes people strong.

v16   The trees of the *LORD get plenty of rain.
  (They are) the cedar trees in Lebanon, which he planted.

v17   The birds make their *nests in them.
  The *stork makes its home in fir trees.

v18   The wild goats live in the high hills
  and the *rabbits hide in the rocks.

v19   The moon shows (us) which season (it is).
  The sun knows when to go down.

v20   You *created night.
  When it is dark, all the wild animals come out (of their *dens).

v21   The young *lions *roar while they *hunt.
  They look for the food that God gives to them.

v22   When the sun shines again, they go back to their *dens.
  There they lie down.

v23   This is when people go out to work.
  They work until it is evening.

What Psalm 104: 10 - 23 means

The first part of the psalm tells us that God *created the earth and the sky. But he did not go away and leave it. The next part of the psalm, verses 10-23, tells us that he stayed with it. He still makes sure that everything happens as he wants it to. In other words, he takes care of everything. As Paul wrote, "By him everything continues to stay alive", (Colossians 1:17). Water comes out of the ground (springs) and goes into streams and rivers. These give water to wild animals and birds, verses 10-12. The donkeys in verse 11 are like small horses. "Like" is another word for "as". Many people have them to carry things but, in verse 11, they are wild donkeys. Verse 13 goes back to the picture of the world that God made. He is still pouring water on to the mountains from above the skies! Now we know that rain comes from the sea.

It is God that makes the plants to grow. Men and animals use these plants for food, (verses 14 - 15). The oil in verse 15 is not the oil we use in cars. It is from a fruit called the olive. It helps people to have good health, so that their faces shine. He makes the tree to grow. Birds make their homes (or nests) in them. The stork is a big bird with long legs, long neck and long beak. The beak is a bird’s mouth. The mountains, hills and rocks near them are homes for other animals, such as wild goats and rabbits, (verses 16-18). A rabbit is a small animal with long ears. Its hair (called fur) is very soft. The rabbits in verse 18 live in places where there are many rocks. Another name for them is coneys.

Verses 19 - 23 are about time. The seasons in verse 19 are not spring, summer, autumn and winter; or wet and dry seasons. They are the months. For the *Jews, each month started with a new moon. This is the 28-day lunar (moon) month. The sun goes down each evening, starting a new day for the *Jews. Their day started at 6 o’clock each evening.

God made the night. That was when night-animals come out from their dens (their homes). As an example, the *psalmist writes about the lion. This large animal eats other animals. It even eats people! It roars (makes a loud noise) while it hunts (looks for) its food. God made the smaller animals for them to eat! When the sun shines again in the morning, these night animals go back to their *dens. That is when people go out to their work. The important thing about this part of the psalm is that God still does all these things. He did not just *create the world and go away. He stayed with it, and he is still with it. As a man called Minos of Crete wrote, "In him we live and move and have our being". Paul repeated these words in Acts 17:28. These words mean that God *created us, and gives us help to stay alive. He does this for all the animals and plants as well. As Jesus said, God even knows what happens to small birds like *sparrows!

Psalm 104: 24 - 30

v24   *LORD, you have made so many things!
  The earth is full of the *creatures that you have made.
  You were very *wise when you made them all.

v25   There is the sea. It is so big and so wide.
  It is full of *creatures, more than anyone can count.
  (In it) there are small and large animals and plants.

v26   Ships sail on it. *Leviathan, that you made, plays in it.

v27   All of them hope that you will give them food when they need it.

v28   (When) you give it to them they pick it up.
  (When) you open your hand they have plenty of good things.

v29   (When) you hide your face they become very frightened.
  When you take away their *breath, they die and return to the *dust.

v30   (Then) you send out your *breath and make new *creatures.
  You make everything on earth new.

What Psalm 104: 24 - 30 means

The word "creatures" means "things that God *created". Usually we use it to mean animals. God was "very wise" when he made them, (verse 24). A wise person knows a lot, and uses what he knows well. God knows more than anybody else, and uses what he knows better than anybody else does. In verses 10-23, the *psalmist wrote about birds and land animals, including man. In verses 25-26, he writes about animals in the sea. He only names one, Leviathan. We do not know what Leviathan was. Bible students think that it was a very large sea-animal, perhaps a whale or even a crocodile.

Verses 27 - 30 are about all the animals, on land, in the sea or in the air. We do not know how animals hope in God … but he does feed them! Verse 28 paints a picture of God opening his hand and the animals finding plenty of good things to eat in it! But when God takes away their breath (the air that goes in and out of their mouths), then they die. They become dust again, part of the ground. Some *Hebrew Bibles have "your *breath", not "their *breath", in verse 29. It is God that breathes into (puts air into) animals and people so that they become alive. So verse 30 has "your *breath" in all *Hebrew Bibles. When one *creature dies, God makes another. He makes everything on earth new by *breathing into new animals and people so that they become alive.

Psalm 104: 31 - 35

v31   I want the *glory of the *LORD to continue for ever!
  I want the *LORD to be very happy with everything that he has made!

v32   (When the *LORD) looks at the earth it becomes frightened.
  When he touches the mountains, they give out smoke.

v33   I will sing to the *LORD all my life.
  I will always sing *praises to my God.

v34   I hope that my thoughts make him happy,
  because the *LORD makes me happy.

v35   I want (the *LORD) to destroy bad people from the earth.
  I do not want very bad people to live any more.
  I say to myself, "*Praise the *LORD! *Hallelujah!"

What Psalm 104: 31 - 35 means

These few verses end the psalm.

Verse 31 - Glory is the bright light that shines from God because he is great. Verse 32 makes us remember that God is very powerful. The last verse tells us that the *psalmist does not want bad or very bad people to live on the earth. If they did not, it would make the earth much better! The last word, hallelujah, is *Hebrew for "*praise the *LORD!" People now use it all over the world.

Something to do

1. Study verses 3-9. Can you see why they are examples of *Hebrew *poetry? Can you find more examples in the psalm?

2. Remember to be kind to animals, because God made them. Read Psalm 8 and think about being kind to animals.

3. Learn to say verses 33 and 34 by heart. (By heart means without looking at the words.)

 

© 2001-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

July 2002

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