Psalm 104:1
Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with honor and majesty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1-4) First and second days of Creation. Instead, however, of describing the creation of light, the poet makes a sublime approach to his theme by treating it as a symbol of the Divine majesty. It is the vesture of God, the tremulous curtain of His tent, whose supporting beams are based, not on the earth, but on those cloud-masses which form an upper ocean. This curtain is then, as it were, drawn aside for the exit of the Monarch attended by His throng of winged messengers.

(1) Clothed.—For the same metaphor see Psalm 93:1.

Psalm 104:1-2. O Lord my God, thou art very great — As in thine own nature and perfections, so also in the glory of thy works; thou art clothed — Surrounded and adorned, with honour and majesty — With honourable majesty: who coverest, or clothest, thyself with light — Either, 1st, With that light which no man can approach unto, as it is described 1 Timothy 1:10 : wherewith, therefore, he may well be said to be covered, or hid, from the eyes of mortal men. Or, 2d, He speaks of that first created light, mentioned Genesis 1:3, which the psalmist properly treats of first, as being the first of all God’s visible works. Of all visible beings light comes nearest to the nature of a spirit, and therefore with that, God, who is a spirit, is pleased to clothe himself, and also to reveal himself under that similitude, as men are seen in the clothes with which they cover themselves. Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain — Forming “a magnificent canopy or pavilion, comprehending within it the earth, and all the inhabitants thereof; enlightened by the celestial orbs suspended in it, as the holy tabernacle was by the lamps of the golden candlestick.” Now God is said to stretch this out like a curtain, to intimate that it was “originally framed, erected, and furnished by its maker, with more ease than man can construct and pitch a tent for his own temporary abode. Yet must this noble pavilion also be taken down; these resplendent and beautiful heavens must pass away and come to an end. How glorious, then, shall be those new heavens which are to succeed them and endure for ever!” — Horne.104:1-9 Every object we behold calls on us to bless and praise the Lord, who is great. His eternal power and Godhead are clearly shown by the things which he hath made. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. The Lord Jesus, the Son of his love, is the Light of the world.Bless the Lord, O my soul - See Psalm 103:1.

O Lord my God, thou art very great - This is a reason why the psalmist calls on his soul to bless God; namely, for the fact that he is so exalted; so vast in his perfections; so powerful, so wise, so great.

Thou art clothed with honor and majesty - That is, with the emblems of honor and majesty, as a king is arrayed in royal robes. Creation is the garment with which God has invested himself. Compare the notes at Psalm 93:1.

PSALM 104

Ps 104:1-35. The Psalmist celebrates God's glory in His works of creation and providence, teaching the dependence of all living creatures; and contrasting the happiness of those who praise Him with the awful end of the wicked.

1. God's essential glory, and also that displayed by His mighty works, afford ground for praise.

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.

Psalm 104:1

"Bless the Lord, O my soul." This Psalm begins and ends like the Hundred and Third, and it could not do better: when the model is perfect it deserves to exist in duplicate. True praise begins at home. It is idle to stir up others to praise if we are ungratefully silent ourselves. We should call upon our inmost hearts to awake and bestir themselves, for we are apt to be sluggish, and if we are so when called upon to bless God, we shall have great cause to be ashamed. When we magnify the Lord, let us do it heartily: our best is far beneath his worthiness, let us not dishonour him by rendering to him half-hearted worship. "O Lord my God, thou art very great." This ascription has in it a remarkable blending of the boldness of faith, and the awe of holy fear: for the Psalmist calls the infinite Jehovah "my God," and at the same time, prostrate in amazement at the divine greatness, he cries out in utter astonishment, "Thou art very great." God was great on Sinai, yet the opening words of his law were, "I am the Lord thy God;" his greatness is no reason why faith should not put in her claim, and call him all her own. The declaration of Jehovah's greatness here given would have been very much in place at the end of the Psalm, for it is a natural inference and deduction from a survey of the universe: its position at the very commencement of the poem is an indication that the whole Psalm was well considered and digested in the mind before it was actually put into words; only on this supposition can we account for the emotion preceding the contemplation. Observe also, that the wonder expressed does not refer to the creation and its greatness, but to Jehovah himself. It is not "the universe is very great!" but "Thou art very great." Many stay at the creature, and so become idolatrous in spirit; to pass onward to the Creator himself is true wisdom. "Thou art clothed with honour and majesty." Thou thyself art not to be seen, but thy works, which may be called thy garments, are full of beauties and marvels which redound to thine honour. Garments both conceal and reveal a man, and so do the creatures of God. The Lord is seen in his works as worthy of honour for his skill, his goodness, and his power, and as claiming majesty, for he has fashioned all things in sovereignty, doing as he wills, and asking no man's permit. He must be blind indeed who does not see that nature is the work of a king. These are solemn strokes of God's severer mind, terrible touches of his sterner attributes, broad lines of inscrutable mystery, and deep shadings of overwhelming power, and these make creation's picture a problem never to be solved, except by admitting that he who drew it giveth no account of his matters, but ruleth all things according to the good pleasure of his will. His majesty is, however, always so displayed as to reflect honour upon his whole character; he does as he wills, but he wills only that which is thrice holy, like himself. The very robes of the unseen Spirit teach us this, and it is ours to recognise it with humble adoration.

Psalm 104:2

"Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment:" wrapping the light about him as a monarch puts on his robe. The conception is sublime - but it makes us feel how altogether inconceivable the personal glory of the Lord must be; if light itself is but his garment and veil, what must be the blazing splendour of his own essential being! We are lost in astonishment, and dare not pry into the mystery lest we be blinded by its insufferable glory. "Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain" within which he might dwell. Light was created on the first day and the firmament upon the second, so that they fitly follow each other in this verse. Oriental princes put on their glorious apparel and then sit in state within curtains, and the Lord is spoken of under that image: but how far above all comprehension the figure must be lifted, since the robe is essential light, to which suns and moons owe their brightness, and the curtain is the azure sky studded with stars for gems. This is a substantial argument for the truth with which the Psalmist commenced his song, "O Lord my God, thou art very great."

Psalm 104:3

"Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters." His lofty halls are framed with the waters which are above the firmament. The upper rooms of God's great house, the secret stories far above our ken, the palatial chambers wherein he resides, are based upon the floods which form the upper ocean. To the unsubstantial he lends stability; he needs no joists and rafters, for his palace is sustained by his own power. We are not to interpret literally where the language is poetical, it would be simple absurdity to do so. "Who maketh the clouds his chariot." When he comes forth from his secret pavilion 'tis thus he makes his royal progress. "His chariot of wrath deep thunder-clouds form," and his chariot of mercy drops plenty as it traverses the celestial road. "Who walketh [or rather goes] upon the wings of the wind." With the clouds for a car, and the winds for winged steeds, the Great King hastens on his movements whether for mercy or for judgment. Thus we have the idea of a king still further elaborated - his lofty palace, his chariot, and his coursers are before us; but what a palace must we imagine, whose beams are of crystal, and whose base is consolidated vapour! What a stately car is that which is fashioned out of the flying clouds, whose gorgeous colours Solomon in all his glory could not rival; and what a Godlike progress is that in which spirit wings and breath of winds beat up the moving throne. "O Lord, my God, thou art very great!"

Psalm 104:4

"Who maketh his angels spirits;" or winds, for the word means either. Angels are pure spirits, though they are permitted to assume a visible form when God desires us to see them. God is a spirit, and he is waited upon by spirits in his royal courts. Angels are like winds for mystery, force, and invisibility, and no doubt the winds themselves are often the angels or messengers of God. God who makes his angels to be as winds, can also make winds to be his angels, and they are constantly so in the economy of nature. "His ministers a flaming fire." Here, too, we may choose which we will of two meanings: God's ministers or servants he makes to be as swift, potent, and terrible as fire, and on the other hand he makes fire, that devouring element, to be his minister flaming forth upon his errands. That the passage refers to angels is clear from Hebrews 1:7; and it was most proper to mention them here in connection with light and the heavens, and immediately after the robes and palace of the Great King. Should not the retinue of the Lord of Hosts be mentioned as well as his chariot? It would halve been a flaw in the description of the universe had the angels not been alluded to, and this is the most appropriate place for their introduction. When we think of the extraordinary powers entrusted to angelic beings, and the mysterious glory of the seraphim and the four living creatures, we are led to reflect upon the glory of the Master whom they serve, and again we cry out with the Psalmist, "O Lord, my God, thou art very great."

continued...THE ARGUMENT.

As the next foregoing Psalm treats of the special favours of God to his church and people, so this declares and celebrates the wonderful and gracious works of God to all mankind in the creation of this visible world, and in the wise and powerful disposition of all things therein to man’s use and comfort.

The prophet, stirring up himself to praise God for his power manifested in the creation, Psalm 104:1-6, his wonderful wisdom and power in governing of all hinge, Psalm 104:7-32, voweth perpetually to praise him, Psalm 104:33,34, and curseth the unthankfulness of the wicked, Psalm 104:35.

Thou art very great, as in thy own nature and perfections, so also in the glory of thy works.

Clothed; surrounded and adorned.

With honour and majesty; with honourable majesty.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,.... As for the blessings of grace and mercy expressed in the preceding psalm, so on account of the works of creation and providence, enumerated in this; in which Christ has an equal concern, as in the former.

O Lord my God, thou art very great; the Messiah, who is Jehovah our righteousness, Lord of all, truly God, and the God of his people; see John 20:28 and who is great, and very great, in his divine Person, being the great God, and our Saviour; great in all his works of creation, providence, and redemption; great in all his offices of Prophet, Priest, and King; a Saviour, and a great one; the great Shepherd of the Sheep; the Man, Jehovah's Fellow.

Thou art clothed with honour and majesty; being the brightness of his Father's glory, and having on him the glory of the only begotten of the Father, and a natural majesty in him as the Son of God and King of the whole universe; and, as Mediator, he has honour and majesty laid upon him by his Father, Psalm 21:5, he has all the regalia and ensigns of royal majesty; he is on a throne, high and lifted up, even the same with his divine Father; he has a crown of glory on his head, he is crowned with glory and honour; he has a sceptre of righteousness in his hand, and is arrayed in robes of majesty; and, as thus situated, is to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone; or as if he was covered with sparkling gems and precious stones, Revelation 4:2 and, having all power in heaven and earth, over angels and men, honour and glory given him by both.

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art {a} clothed with honour and majesty.

(a) The prophet shows that we do not need to enter into the heavens to seek God, for as much as all the order of nature, with the propriety and placing of the elements, are living mirrors to see his majesty in.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. The verbs (not adjectives or participles as in Psalm 96:4) of the Heb. express an act rather than a state: thou hast made thyself very great … thou hast clothed thyself &c. It is not, so to speak, God’s eternal and immutable greatness which the poet celebrates, but the revelation of His greatness, the assumption, as it were, of a new robe of imperial majesty in the creation of the world. Honour and majesty are the attributes of a king. Cp. Psalm 96:6; Psalm 21:5; Psalm 8:1. For the phrase of line 3 cp. Job 40:10; Psalm 93:1.

1–4. The greatness and majesty of Jehovah exhibited in creation.Verse 1. - Bless the Lord, O my soul (see the comment on Psalm 103:1). O Lord my God, thou art very great. The keynote is struck at once. All the rest will be nothing but a development of this vast theme - God's greatness. Thou art clothed with honour and majesty; or "thou hast robed thyself in glory and grandeur" (Cheyne). The figure of the grass recalls Psalm 90:5., cf. Isaiah 40:6-8; Isaiah 51:12; that of the flower, Job 14:2. אנושׁ is man as a mortal being; his life's duration is likened to that of a blade of grass, and his beauty and glory to a flower of the field, whose fullest bloom is also the beginning of its fading. In Psalm 103:16 בּו (the same as in Isaiah 40:7.) refers to man, who is compared to grass and flowers. כּי is ἐάν with a hypothetical perfect; and the wind that scorches up the plants, referred to man, is an emblem of every form of peril that threatens life: often enough it is really a breath of wind which snaps off a man's life. The bold designation of vanishing away without leaving any trace, "and his place knoweth him no more," is taken from Job 7:10, cf. ibid. Job 8:18; Job 20:9. In the midst of this plant-like, frail destiny, there is, however, one strong ground of comfort. There is an everlasting power, which raises all those who link themselves with it above the transitoriness involved in nature's laws, and makes them eternal like itself. This power is the mercy of God, which spans itself above (על) all those who fear Him like an eternal heaven. This is God's righteousness, which rewards faithful adherence to His covenant and conscientious fulfilment of His precepts in accordance with the order of redemption, and shows itself even to (ל) children's children, according to Exodus 20:6; Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 7:9 : on into a thousand generations, i.e., into infinity.
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