Psalm 104:24
O LORD, how manifold are your works! in wisdom have you made them all: the earth is full of your riches.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Riches.—LXX., “creation;” Aquila, Symmachus, and the Vulg., “possession.” The MSS. vary between singular and plural. Creatures will perhaps. best express the sense here.

There is something as fine in art as true in religion in this sudden burst of praise—the “evening voluntary” of grateful adoration—into which the poet bursts at the mention of the day’s close. Weariness leaves the soul, as it is lifted from contemplation of man’s toil to that of God. Athanasius remarked on the sense of rest and refreshment produced by this change of strain.

Psalm 104:24-26. O Lord, how manifold are thy works — How numerous, how various! Of how many kinds, and how many of every kind. Thus, “transported with a survey of the wonders which present themselves in heaven above, and on earth below, the psalmist breaks forth into an exclamation, on the variety and magnificence, the harmony and proportion, of the works of God, in this outward, and visible, and perishable world. What then are the miracles of grace and glory? What are those invisible and eternal things, which God hath for them that love him, in another and a better world, and of which the things visible and temporary are no more than shadows? Admitted to that place, where we shall at once be indulged with a view of all the divine dispensations, and of that beatitude in which they terminated, shall we not, with angels and archangels, cry out, O Lord, how manifold are thy works, &c.” — Horne. In wisdom hast thou made them all — When men undertake many works, and of different kinds, commonly some of them are neglected, and not done with due care; but God’s works, though many, and of different kinds, yet are all made in wisdom, and with the greatest exactness: there is not the least flaw or defect in them. The most perfect works of art, the more narrowly they are viewed, (as, suppose, with the help of microscopes,) the more rough and imperfect they appear; but the more the works of God are examined, (by these glasses,) they appear the more fine and complete. God’s works are all made in wisdom, for they are all made to answer the end designed, the good of the universe, in order to the glory of the universal King. The earth is full of thy riches — Of excellent, useful, and comfortable things, which are the effects of thy goodness and power. So is this great and wide sea — Which might seem at first view a useless part of the globe, or, at least, not to be worth the room it occupies, but God has appointed it its place, and made it serviceable to man many ways. For therein are things creeping, or, rather, swimming, innumerable — (Hebrew, ואין מספר, veein mispar, and there is no number, namely, that can comprehend them,) both small and great beasts — Or animals, as חיות, chaioth, signifies; that is, fishes of various kinds, many of which serve for the food of man; and there go the ships — In which goods are conveyed to countries very distant much more easily, speedily, and at less expense than by land carriage. “There is not,” says Dr. Horne, “in all nature, a more august and striking object than the ocean. Its inhabitants are as numerous as those upon the land; nor are the wisdom and power of the Creator less displayed, perhaps, in their formation and preservation, from the smallest fish that swims, to the enormous tyrant of the deep, the leviathan himself,” of which see Job 40. and 41. “By means of navigation, Providence hath opened a communication between the most distant parts of the globe; the largest solid bodies are wafted with incredible swiftness upon one fluid, by the impulse of another, and seas join the countries which they appear to divide.”104:19-30 We are to praise and magnify God for the constant succession of day and night. And see how those are like to the wild beasts, who wait for the twilight, and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Does God listen to the language of mere nature, even in ravenous creatures, and shall he not much more interpret favourably the language of grace in his own people, though weak and broken groanings which cannot be uttered? There is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, which man must apply to every morning, and which he must continue in till evening; it will be time enough to rest when the night comes, in which no man can work. The psalmist wonders at the works of God. The works of art, the more closely they are looked upon, the more rough they appear; the works of nature appear more fine and exact. They are all made in wisdom, for they all answer the end they were designed to serve. Every spring is an emblem of the resurrection, when a new world rises, as it were, out of the ruins of the old one. But man alone lives beyond death. When the Lord takes away his breath, his soul enters on another state, and his body will be raised, either to glory or to misery. May the Lord send forth his Spirit, and new-create our souls to holiness.O Lord, how manifold are thy works! - literally, "how many." The reference is to the "number" and the "variety" of the works of God, and to the wisdom displayed in them all. The earth is not suited up merely for one class of inhabitants, but for an almost endless variety; and the wisdom of God is manifested alike in the number and in the variety. No one can estimate the "number" of beings God has made on the earth; no one can comprehend the richness of the variety. By day the air, the earth, the waters swarm with life - life struggling everywhere as if no placc was to be left unoccupied; even for the dark scenes of night countless numbers of beings have been created; and, in all this immensity of numbers, there is an endless variety. No two are alike. Individuality is everywhere preserved, and the mind is astonished and confounded alike at the numbers and the variety.

In wisdom hast thou made them all - That is, Thou hast adapted each and all to the different ends contemplated in their creation. Anyone of these beings shows the wisdom of God in its formation, and in its adaptations to the ends of its existence; how much more is that wisdom displayed in these countless numbers, and in this endless variety!

The earth is full of thy riches - Hebrew, "possessions." So the Septuagint and the Vulgate. That is, these various objects thus created are regarded as the "possession" of God; or, they belong to him, as the property of a man belongs to himself. The psalmist says that this wealth or property abounds everywhere; the earth is full of it.

24-26. From a view of the earth thus full of God's blessings, the writer passes to the sea, which, in its immensity, and as a scene and means of man's activity in commerce, and the home of countless multitudes of creatures, also displays divine power and beneficence. The mention of24 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.

Psalm 104:24

"O Lord, how manifold are thy works!" They are not only many for number but manifold for variety. Mineral, vegetable, animal - what a range of works is suggested by these three names! No two even of the same class are exactly alike, and the classes are more numerous than science can number. Works in the heavens above and in the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth, works which abide the ages, works which come to perfection and pass away in a year, works which with all their beauty do not outlive a day, works within works, and works within these - who can number one of a thousand? God is the great worker, and ordainer of variety. It is ours to study his works, for they are great, and sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. The kingdom of grace contains as manifold and as great works as that of nature, but the chosen of the Lord alone discern them. "In wisdom hast thou made them all," or wrought them all. They are all his works, wrought by his own power, and they all display his wisdom. It was wise to make them - none could be spared; every link is essential to the chain of nature - wild beasts as much as men, poisons as truly as odoriferous herbs. They are wisely made - each one fits its place, fills it, and is happy in so doing. As a whole, the "all" of creation is a wise achievement, and however, it may be chequered with mysteries, and clouded with terrors, it all works together for good, and as one complete harmonious piece of workmanship it answers the great Worker's end. "The earth is full of thy riches." It is not a poor-house, but a palace; not a hungry ruin, but a well-filled store-house. The Creator has not set his creatures down in a dwelling-place where the table is bare, and the buttery empty, he has filled the earth with food; and not with bare necessaries only, but with riches - dainties, luxuries, beauties, treasures. In the bowels of the earth are hidden mines of wealth, and on her surface are teeming harvests of plenty. All these riches are the Lord's; we ought to call them not "the wealth of nations," but "thy riches" O Lord! Not in one clime alone are these riches of God to be found, but in all lands - even the Arctic ocean has its precious things which men endure much hardness to win, and the burning sun of the equator ripens a produce which flavours the food of all mankind. If his house below is so full of riches what must his house above be, where

"The very streets are paved with gold

Exceeding clear and fine"?

Psalm 104:25

"So is this great and wide sea." He gives an instance of the immense number and variety of Jehovah's works by pointing to the sea. "Look," saith he, "at yonder ocean, stretching itself on both hands and embracing so many lands, it too swarms with animal life, and in its deeps lie treasures beyond all counting." The heathen made the sea a different province from the land, and gave the command thereof to Neptune, but we know of a surety that Jehovah rules the waves. "Wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts;" read moving things and animals small and great, and you have the true sense. The number of minute forms of animal life is indeed beyond all reckoning; when a single phosphorescent wave may bear millions of infusoira, and around a fragment of rock armies of microscopic beings may gather, we renounce all idea of applying arithmetic to such a case. The sea in many regions appears to be all alive, as if every drop were a world. Nor are these tiny creatures the only tenants of the sea, for it contains gigantic mammals which exceed in bulk those which range the land, and a vast host of huge fishes which wander among the waves, and hide in the caverns of the sea as the tiger lurks in the jungle, or the lion roams the plain. Truly, O Lord, thou makest the sea to be as rich in the works of thy hands as the land itself.

Psalm 104:26

continued...

Of excellent and comfortable things, which are the effects of thy bounty and power. O Lord, how manifold are thy works,.... The psalmist having taken notice of many of the works of creation, stops and wonders at the number of them; though he had not gone through them all, and there were even things innumerable behind; see Psalm 104:25, he admires the sum of them, how great it was; and not only the quantity but the quality of them; for so the words may be rendered, "how great are thy works" (g), as for number, so for nature; in which there is such an amazing display of the greatness and power of God, and particularly of his wisdom, as is observed in the next clause.

In wisdom hast thou made them all not only one thing, as the heavens, Psalm 136:5, but everything is wisely contrived and made; there is a most glorious display of the wisdom of God in the most minute thing his hands have made; he has made everything beautiful in its season: a skilful artificer, when he has finished his work and looks it over again, often finds some fault or another in it: but when the Lord had finished his works of creation, and looked over them, he saw that all was good; infinite wisdom itself could find no blemish in them: what weak, foolish, stupid creatures must they be that pretend to charge any of the works of God with folly, or want of wisdom? Some by "wisdom" here understand Christ himself, the wisdom of God; and not amiss, since without him was not anything made; see Proverbs 3:19.

The earth is full of thy riches: or possessions (h); for as the Lord is the maker, he is the proprietor and the possessor of heaven and earth, and all that is in them, and can and does dispose thereof as seems good in his sight; and whatever of the riches and good things of the earth men may have, they are only stewards, the Lord is the rightful owner and possessor of them; see Genesis 14:19, with which compare Psalm 33:5; see Gill on Psalm 33:5.

(g) "quam multa ac magna", Gejerus. (h) "possessione tua", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus; "tuis possessionibus", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Piscator, Michaelis.

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

(n) He confesses that no tongue is able to express God's works nor mind to comprehend them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. in wisdom] Cp. Proverbs 3:19; Proverbs 8:22 ff.

thy riches] The word may mean thy possessions (Vulg. J er. possessione tua, representing a Sept. reading τῆς κτήσεώς σου): or, thy creation or creatures (LXX τῆς κτίσεώς σου, Syr., Targ.): but usage is in favour of the first sense. Cp. Psalm 105:21.

24–30. An exclamation of wonder and admiration at the variety and wisdom of God’s works introduces a description of the marvels of the sea, and the mystery of life. Psalm 104:25-26 are based on Genesis 1:20-21 : Psalm 104:27-28 on Genesis 1:29-30.Verse 24. - O Lord, how manifold are thy works! This is a parenthetic ejaculation, from which the psalmist cannot refrain, as he contemplates creation so far. It breaks the continuity of his description (vers. 2-32), but not unpleasingly. In wisdom hast thou made them all (comp. Proverbs 3:19, "The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens"). (On the "wisdom" of God, as shown in creation, see the whole series of 'Bridgewater Treatises.') The earth is full of thy riches; or possessions (comp. Psalm 105:21). "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof" (Psalm 24:1). Creation gives the right of ownership. In the fourth decastich the poet goes further among the creatures of the field and of the forest. The subject to להוציא is מצמיח. The clause expressing the purpose, which twice begins with an infinitive, is continued in both instances, as in Isaiah 13:9, but with a change of subject (cf. e.g., Amos 1:11; Amos 2:4), in the finite verb. On what is said of wine we may compare Ecclesiastes 10:19, Sir. 40:20, and more especially Isaiah, who frequently mentions wine as a representative of all the natural sources of joy. The assertion that משּׁמן signifies "before oil equals brighter than oil," is an error that is rightly combated by Bttcher in his Proben and two of his "Gleanings,"

(Note: Proben, i.e., Specimens of Old Testament interpretation, Leipzig 1833, and Aehrenlese (Gleanings), referred to in the preface of these volumes. - Tr.)

which imputes to the poet a mention of oil that is contrary to his purpose in this connection wand inappropriate. Corn, wine, and oil are mentioned as the three chief products of the vegetable kingdom (Luther, Calvin, Grotius, Dathe, and Hupfeld), and are assumed under עשׂב in Psalm 104:14, as is also the case in other instances where distinction would be superfluous, e.g., in Exodus 9:22. With oil God makes the countenance shining, or bright and cheerful, not by means of anointing-since it was not the face but the head that was anointed (Matthew 6:17), - but by the fact of its increasing the savouriness and nutritiveness of the food. להצהיל is chosen with reference to יצהר. In Psalm 104:15 לבב־אנושׁ does not stand after, as in Psalm 104:15 (where it is לבב־ with Gaja on account of the distinctive), but before the verb, because לבב as that which is inward stands in antithesis to פנים as that which is outside. Since the fertilization of the earth by the rain is the chief subject of the predication in Psalm 104:13, Psalm 104:16 is naturally attached to what precedes without arousing critical suspicion. That which satisfies is here the rain itself, and not, as in Psalm 104:13, that which the rain matures. The "trees of Jahve" are those which before all others proclaim the greatness of their Creator. אשׁר־שׁם refers to these trees, of which the cedars and then the cypresses (ברושׁים, root בר, to cut) are mentioned. They are places where small and large birds build their nests and lodge, more particularly the stork, which is called the חסידה as being πτηνῶν εὐσεβέστατον ζώων (Barbrius, Fab. xiii.), as avis pia (pietaticultrix in Petronius, Leviticus 6), i.e., on account of its love of family life, on account of which it is also regarded as bringing good fortune to a house.

(Note: In the Merg& district, where the stork is not called leklek as it is elsewhere, but charnuk[ on account of its bill like a long horn (Arab. chrn) standing out in front, the women and children call it Arab. 'bû sa‛d, "bringer of good luck." Like the חסידה, the long-legged carrion-vulture (Vultur percnopterus) or mountain-stork, ὀρειπελαργός, is called רחם (Arab. rḥm) on account of its στοργή.)

The care of God for the lodging of His creatures leads the poet from the trees to the heights of the mountains and the hiding-places of the rocks, in a manner that is certainly abrupt and that disturbs the sketch taken from the account of the creation. הגּבהים is an apposition. יעל (Arabic wa‛il) is the steinboc, wild-goat, as being an inhabitant of יעל (wa‛l, wa‛la), i.e., the high places of the rocks, as יען, Lamentations 4:3, according to Wetzstein, is the ostrich as being an inhabitant of the wa‛na, i.e., the sterile desert; and שׁפן is the rock-badger, which dwells in the clefts of the rocks (Proverbs 30:26), and resembles the marmot - South Arabic Arab. tufun, Hyrax Syriacus (distinct from the African). By שׁפן the Jewish tradition understand the coney, after which the Peshto here renders it לחגסא (חגס, cuniculus). Both animals, the coney and the rock-badger, may be meant in Leviticus 11:5; Deuteronomy 14:7; for the sign of the cloven hoof (פּרסה שׁסוּעה) is wanting in both. The coney has four toes, and the hyrax has a peculiar formation of hoof, not cloven, but divided into several parts.

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