The Human Truth Foundation

Psalm 104

By Vexen Crabtree 2013

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1. Book Summary

Psalms is a collection of 150 poems1 and songs, each with their own individual authors. The word psalms means a "song accompanied by string plucking"2. Hence, a hymnbook. Much of Psalms was written between 1050-600 BCE and after the Babylonian period3, with minor edits continuing into the 2nd century CE. Multiple collections of Hebrew songs had been made for various purposes, and the Book of Psalms is a compilation of 5 of those collections. 73 Psalms are attributed to King David1 although modern scholars (and many theologians) know that most of them were not written by him2, and perhaps, none of them were. But this attribution was popular in ancient times, and multiple New Testament verses also say (wrongly) that some Psalms were 'by David'. The psalms use lots of symbolism (much of which is now obscure) and are very open to subjective interpretation. Because of the varied authorship and vague text, it is not appropriate to use Psalms in doctrinal arguments.

2. Chapter Summary

BibleSummary.Info: O LORD, you are very great. You set the earth on its foundations. All your creatures look to you for food. Bless the LORD, O my soul!4

Vexen Crabtree: God is light, and created the life cycle, and sometimes terrifies animals. The Earth can't move.

Psalm 104 is problematic scientifically, with an immovable and flat Earth (104:5) where heaven is like a tent (104:2), and strange things happening with the water (104:6-9) that are directly contradicted by a large amount of geological evidence. The rising seas due to global warming are denied in Psalm 104:9. It portrays a God that sometimes pleases animals, and sometimes terrifies them (104:27-29). Altogether this song makes very few theological points, and where it makes factual points it manages to contradict reality. It is best considered an unreliable source of doctrine.

3. Psalms chapter 104 has 35 verses


Psalms 104:1-4 - God is great and is wrapped in light

KJVYLTNotes
1Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.Bless, O my soul, Jehovah! Jehovah, my God, Thou hast been very great, Honour and majesty Thou hast put on.
2Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:Covering himself `with' light as a garment, Stretching out the heavens as a curtain,
3Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:Who is laying the beam of His upper chambers in the waters, Who is making thick clouds His chariot, Who is walking on wings of wind,
4Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:Making His messengers -- the winds, His ministers -- the flaming fire.

Psalms 104:5 - The Earth can't move

KJVYLTNotes
5Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.He hath founded earth on its bases, It is not moved to the age and for ever.

Psalms 104:6-9 - Water is Sent into the Valleys

KJVYLTNotes
6Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.The abyss! as with clothing Thou hast covered it, Above hills do waters stand.

Psalms 104:5-8 says that the waters were sent into valleys; but of course every geologist knows that water makes the valleys, so, the water was there first. At no point in the history of the Earth has water suddenly flowed into all the (dry) valleys en masse.

The statement in v.9 that never again will God allow the waters to flood the Earth seems to go at odds with global warming, which has seen a year-on-year rise in sea levels as the oceans warm, as a result of them containing a rapidly increasing quantity of dissolved carbon dioxide, absorbed from the polluted air.

7At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.From Thy rebuke they flee, From the voice of Thy thunder haste away.
8They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.They go up hills -- they go down valleys, Unto a place Thou hast founded for them.
9Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.A border Thou hast set, they pass not over, They turn not back to cover the earth.

Psalms 104:10-18 - God waters the plants and animals and creates wine and bread

KJVYLTNotes
10He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.Who is sending forth fountains in valleys, Between hills they go on.
11They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.They water every beast of the field, Wild asses break their thirst.
12By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.By them the fowl of the heavens doth dwell, From between the branches They give forth the voice.
13He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.Watering hills from His upper chambers, From the fruit of Thy works is the earth satisfied.
14He 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;Causing grass to spring up for cattle, And herb for the service of man, To bring forth bread from the earth,
15And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.And wine -- it rejoiceth the heart of man, To cause the face to shine from oil, And bread -- the heart of man it supporteth.
16The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;Satisfied `are' the trees of Jehovah, Cedars of Lebanon that He hath planted,
17Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.Where birds do make nests, The stork -- the firs `are' her house.
18The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.The high hills `are' for wild goats, Rocks `are' a refuge for conies,

Psalms 104:19-23 - God made the moon, the seasons and the daily rhythm of life

KJVYLTNotes
19He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.He made the moon for seasons, The sun hath known his place of entrance.
20Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.Thou settest darkness, and it is night, In it doth every beast of the forest creep.
21The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.The young lions are roaring for prey, And to seek from God their food.
22The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.The sun riseth, they are gathered, And in their dens they crouch.
23Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.Man goeth forth to his work, And to his service -- till evening.

Psalms 104:24-26 - God made the spacious oceans and the seamonster Leviathan

KJVYLTNotes
24O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.How many have been Thy works, O Jehovah, All of them in wisdom Thou hast made, Full is the earth of thy possessions.
25So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.This, the sea, great and broad of sides, There `are' moving things -- innumerable, Living creatures -- small with great.
26There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.There do ships go: leviathan, That Thou hast formed to play in it.

Psalms 104:27-30 - God sometimes makes animals happy and sometimes terrifies them

KJVYLTNotes
27These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.All of them unto Thee do look, To give their food in its season.
28That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.Thou dost give to them -- they gather, Thou dost open Thy hand -- they `are' satisfied `with' good.
29Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.Thou hidest Thy face -- they are troubled, Thou gatherest their spirit -- they expire, And unto their dust they turn back.
30Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.Thou sendest out Thy Spirit, they are created, And Thou renewest the face of the ground.

Psalms 104:31-35 - Let's sing to God and praise its works

KJVYLTNotes
31The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.The honour of Jehovah is to the age, Jehovah rejoiceth in His works,

Note that for some reason the Septuagint translation has Psalm 104:35 at the beginning of the Psalm.

32He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.Who is looking to earth, and it trembleth, He cometh against hills, and they smoke.
33I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.I sing to Jehovah during my life, I sing praise to my God while I exist.
34My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.Sweet is my meditation on Him, I -- I do rejoice in Jehovah.
35Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD.Consumed are sinners from the earth, And the wicked are no more. Bless, O my soul, Jehovah. Praise ye Jehovah!

Current edition: 2013 Jun 06
http://www.holybooks.info/psalm_104.html
Parent page: Tehillim (Book of Truth) / Psalms

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References: (What's this?)

The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. Book Review.

Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer
(1997) Religions of the World. Hardback book. Subtitled: "The Illustrated Guide to Origins, Beliefs, Traditions, & Festivals". Published by Lionheart Books. By Elizabeth Breuilly, Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer. Published for Transedition Limited and Fernleigh Books.

Eliade, Mircea
(1987, Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Religion. Hardback book. Published by Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, USA. 16 huge volumes. Eliade is editor-in-chief. Entries are alphabetical, so, no page numbers are given in references, just article titles.

Roberts, Jenny
(1997) Bible Facts. Hardback book. Originally published 1990. Current version published by Grange Books, London.

Footnotes

  1. Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer (1997) chapter 1 "Judaism" p28.^
  2. Eliade (1987) Volume 12 entry "Psalms".^
  3. Roberts (1997) p41-42.^
  4. www.biblesummary.info was host to a daily Twitter tweet from its author, each of which summarizes a chapter from the Bible. Accessed 2014 Feb.^

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