Psalm 104

Praise to the Sovereign LORD
for His Creation and Providence

cf. Gen. 1:1-31

Creation Papers by Lambert Dolphin

  Bless the LORD, O my soul!

O LORD my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty,

2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
Who makes the clouds His chariot,
Who walks on the wings of the wind,

4 Who makes His angels spirits,
His ministers a flame of fire.

5 You who laid the foundations of the earth,
So that it should not be moved forever

6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
The waters stood above the mountains.

7 At Your rebuke they fled;
At the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.

8 They went up over the mountains;
They went down into the valleys,
To the place which You founded for them.

9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over,
That they may not return to cover the earth.

10 He sends the springs into the valleys;
They flow among the hills.

11 They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 By them the birds of the heavens have their home;
They sing among the branches.

13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.

14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the service of man,
That he may bring forth food from the earth,

15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man,
Oil to make his face shine,
And bread which strengthens man’s heart.

16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

17 Where the birds make their nests;
The stork has her home in the fir trees.

18 The high hills are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badger.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons;
The sun knows its going down.

20 You make darkness, and it is night,
In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.

21 The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.

22 When the sun rises, they gather together
And lie down in their dens.

23 Man goes out to his work
And to his labor until the evening.

24 O LORD, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions—

25 This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.

26 There the ships sail about;
There is that Leviathan
Which You have made to play there.

27 These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.

28 What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.

29 You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
May the LORD rejoice in His works.

32 He looks on the earth, and it trembles;
He touches the hills, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

34 May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the LORD.

35 May sinners be consumed from the earth,
And the wicked be no more.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Praise the LORD!

Thomas Constable Notes

Verses 1-35

Psalms 104

This psalm of descriptive praise is quite similar to Psalms 103. Both begin and end with similar calls to bless God. However, God’s dealing with people is the subject of praise in Psalms 103, whereas His creation and sustenance of the world are the theme of Psalms 104.

"The structure of the psalm is modeled [sic] fairly closely on that of Genesis 1, taking the stages of creation as starting-points for praise. But as each theme is developed it tends to anticipate the later scenes of the creation drama, so that the days described in Genesis overlap and mingle here. . . . One of our finest hymns, Sir Robert Grant’s ’O worship the King’, takes its origin from this psalm, deriving its metre (but little else) from William Kethe’s 16th-century paraphrase, ’My soul, praise the Lord’ (the Old 104th)." [Note: Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 368.] 

Verses 5-9

The psalmist described God creating the earth and then covering it with a blanket, as one would cover a new-born infant. He pictured the earth as though it were a building and stressed the stability of what God had made. He did not mean that the earth has literal foundations and is flat. God proceeded to separate the waters on the earth from those above the earth (Psalms 104:6-7; cf. Genesis 1:6-8). Then he separated the dry ground from the waters on the earth (Psalms 104:8-9; cf. Genesis 1:9-13). The seas are humanly unmanageable, but God set their boundaries and prohibited the waters from crossing them. The frequent references to God controlling water in this psalm demonstrate His sovereignty over all that is difficult to manage in creation.

God also caused springs to gush forth in the valleys so that the animal world could find water and drink. In other words, God provided graciously for His creatures’ needs. The song of the birds appears to be a song of praise to God for His provision Psalms 104:12 b). God causes the vegetable world to produce for the benefit of His creatures as well. Clearly man’s ability to grow food depends on God’s more basic provisions. Wine makes people feel good, olive oil makes them look good, and food enables them to produce good things of all kinds. All of God’s provisions are for our welfare. He desires to bless humankind. He even provides for the welfare of trees, birds, and insignificant animals. God has indeed made the earth a remarkable habitat for humanity.

"Baal was supposedly the source of life’s staples, bread (Ugar. lhm), wine (yn), and oil (smn). In direct contradiction to this, the psalmists asserted that the Lord softens the earth with showers (Psalms 65:10) and brings forth ’food [Heb. lehem] from the earth; wine [yayin] that gladdens the heart of man, oil [semen] to make his face shine, and bread [lehem] that sustains his heart’ (Psalms 104:14-15)." [Note: Chisholm, "A Theology . . .," p. 261.] 

Verses 19-23

God’s creation of daytime and nighttime were also provisions for God’s creatures, especially humankind (cf. Genesis 1:14-17).

Verses 24-30

The psalmist broke out in praise to Yahweh for His wisdom in creating as He did. He also acknowledged that all things God created belonged to Him. This even included the sea with all its hidden treasures. Leviathan probably refers to a large sea animal (cf. Job 41). [Note: A. Ross, p. 869; Roy B. Zuck, Job, p. 180.] In the ancient Near East it symbolized chaotic evil. [Note: Marvin H. Pope, Job, pp. 329-31. For an extensive study of the motif, see John Day, God’s Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea: Echoes of Canaanite Myth in the Old Testament.] This whole psalm is a polemic against the Canaanite gods who supposedly controlled the earth and the sea.

"Rather than being viewed as forces that oppose God, the sea and its creatures, including Leviathan, are presented as prime examples of God’s creative skill Psalms 104:24-26).

Psalms 104:27-30 describe how dependent all of God’s creatures are on Him for their lives. He supplies or withholds food. They live or die. The writer viewed God as creating new creatures whenever they come to life. This is the work of His Spirit (cf. Genesis 1:2). God is responsible for the birth of all animal life forms, indeed of all life forms. Whereas the Son of God is the agent of creation (Colossians 1:16), the Spirit provides life. For this reason God often described the Spirit as His breath (Genesis 2:7). The translators have rendered the Hebrew word ruach "breath," "spirit," "air," and "wind," depending on the context.

Verses 24-32

3. Praise of the Creator 104:24-32

Verses 31-32

The psalmist prayed that God’s glory would continue forever since He wields such powerful control over creation. He also wanted God to rejoice in His great works of creation. Only a touch or even a look from God makes creation respond violently.

Verses 33-35

4. Proper responses 104:33-35a

The psalmist vowed to praise God with his mouth and with his mind because of God’s creative and sustaining sovereignty. He also prayed that wicked sinners would perish from the earth. They are out of harmony with all of creation that responds submissively to the Creator’s commands.

"The psalmist is not vindictive in his prayer against the wicked but longs for a world fully established and maintained by the Lord, without outside interference." [Note: VanGemeren, p. 664.] 

Verse 35

5. Epilogue 104:35b

The psalm concludes as it began, with the psalmist reminding himself to bless the Lord by praising Him. "Praise the Lord" translates the Hebrew haleluyah. The translators often simply transliterated this Hebrew expression as "hallelujah." There are 23 occurrences of this term in the psalms, and this is the first (cf. Psalms 105:45Psalms 106:1Psalms 106:48Psalms 112:1Psalms 113:1Psalms 113:9Psalms 115:18Psalms 116:19Psalms 117:2Psalms 135:1Psalms 135:3Psalms 135:21Psalms 146:1Psalms 146:10Psalms 147:1Psalms 147:20Psalms 148:1Psalms 148:14Psalms 149:1Psalms 149:9Psalms 150:1Psalms 150:6). The only four occurrences of "hallelujah" in the New Testament are in Revelation 19:1Revelation 19:3-4Revelation 19:6, the context being the second coming of Christ. This psalm is an exposition of Genesis 1. It stresses the sovereignty of Yahweh over all creation. All creatures should honor God and submit to Him because He is the source and sustainer of life.





Psalm 104's Creation Song

“Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.” (

This psalm captures a historical event recorded in the first scroll of Moses’ inspired text—God’s creation of all things. Many scholars, even those casting serious doubts on the historicity of Genesis, concede to the chronological order of this song. Examine carefully the prose, capturing the wonder, exuberance, and praises of God’s creative finger—and ponder how these inspired words relate to life then and now.

Both Psalm 104 and Genesis 1 portray God as our Creator, showing how He owns us as His creation and how He is to be praised. The psalm takes the reader from the waters of creation to the terrible waters of the Noahic Flood when they were at their highest, covering “all the high hills” (Genesis 7:19-20Psalm 104:6-92 Peter 3:5-6).

Scholars have noted the parallels between Psalm 104 and Genesis 1.1

Day 1: Light (Psalm 104:2a)
Day 2: Creation of the firmament, waters above (vv. 2b-4)
Day 3: Dry land appears, formation of plants (vv. 5-18)
Day 4: Luminaries indicating times and seasons (vv. 19-23)
Day 5: Creatures (vv. 24-26)
Day 6: Gift of life by God for animals and man (vv. 27-30)
Believer, never allow anyone to discount the historicity of Genesis 1–2. This magnificent psalm underscores and confirms the literalness of creation’s historical record. CM


O Worship the King

1. O worship the King, all glorious above
O gratefully sing His wonderful love
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days
Paviolioned in splendor, and girded with praise

2. O tell of His might, O sing of His grace
Whose robe is the light and canopy space
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm

3 . O measureless might, ineffable love
While angels delight to worship above
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend

You alone are the matchless King
To You alone be all majesty
Your glories and wonders, what tongue can recite?
You breathe in the air, You shine in the light

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March 25, 2023

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