Year C – Pentecost – Psalm 104

Psalm 104:24-32 (NRSV)

24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
creeping things innumerable are there,
living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

27 These all look to you
to give them their food in due season;
28 when you give to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains 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 being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord!


 Summary – Charles Spurgeon calls Psalm 104, “a poet’s version of Genesis.” The Psalm taken as a whole is a praise to God which loosely takes the shape of the seven days of creation. Verses 1-6 describe the work of the days one and two of creation; praising God for the light and the separation of the waters in the firmament from the waters below the firmament (Gen. 1:1-8). Verses 7-18 easily moves to the separation of the waters and the land on the third day, along with the creation of plant life and vegetation (Gen.1:9-14). The Psalmist sings of the fourth day of creation (Gen. 1:14-19), praising God for the sun and the moon in verses 19-23. The fifth and sixth day are included in verses 24-30, in which the sea creatures are created (even the sea monster Leviathan is mentioned!), and the land beasts. Man is thought to be absent from the list, because we most likely are to see him included in the fact that man is the author of the Psalm. But, I think verses 29- 30 speaks of man, when says,

29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.

Man is said to go back to the dust when he dies, and man is given the spirit of God for breath, and man is the agent of renewal for the earth (Gen. 2:6-8).Finally, the Psalm closes with a seventh day Sabbath hymn of praise, foreshadowing the final day of judgment in verse 32 when the whole history of God’s creation comes to an end and man will be judged.

Insight – It is interesting that this Psalm is used for Pentecost. We are reminded of God’s old creation, when the Spirit of God brought the pattern of Heaven down to Earth. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes again, this time bringing the life and love of Heaven to Earth. This is the New Creation. According to verse 30, the Spirit of God was given to man for the purpose of “renewing the ground.” Man was placed in the garden to cultivate it and guard it. Today, the Spirit of God sends us on a mission to cultivate and guard all of life, and to restore paradise again on earth. This is part of what it means for Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the World. And with His ascension to Heaven, he was given all authority to disciple the nations. On Pentecost, the Spirit empowers us to do so. So let us go forth in the power of the Spirit of God, and renew the face of the ground, wherever the curse is found. Amen.

Catechism – Who renews the face of the ground? Man, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Discussion – Discuss the Sea Monster Leviathan (See Job 41:1; Ps. 74:14; Isa. 27:1)! Was supposed to stay in the garden if he were faithful? Or extend his dominion throughout the whole Earth? How can we extend dominion throughout the world today?

Prayer – O God, touch the hearts and mind of thy faithful people, by sending upon us the fire of thy Holy Spirit, that we might be like the ministers of flaming fire, spreading the message of Jesus Christ like the four winds to the ends of the earth. Grant us wisdom and the bond of love that we might live the life heaven here on earth, as it is in heaven. Amen.

Submitted by Michael Shover

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Year C – Sixth Sunday in Easter – Psalm 67

Psalm 67 (NRSV)

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.

A  1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2 that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.

B  3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

C  4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

B  5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

A  6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
7 May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.

 

Summary – It is believed that this Psalm was meant to be sung during the Harvest Feast, also known as the Feast of Weeks, or, as we know it today, The Feast of Pentecost. Verse 6 gives God the praise for “the earth yielding its increase”, so it seems appropriate that the context would be the Harvest Feast. This Psalm is written as a chiasm, as you can see the text arranged to fit an A B C B A structure. This means that the center point is the main focus of the Psalm, which is verse 4. The Psalm is a praise and a prayer that focuses on God blessing “us”, so that the nations and the peoples of the earth would also receive blessing from God (1-2, 6-7). The very middle verse, verse 4, gives us the center of the Psalm and helps us to focus on the main point. Because God blesses his people, all the nations of the earth will also be blessed (a reference to the Abrahamic Covenant in Gen. 12:1-3). As a result of that blessing on the nations will be glad and will sing for joy, because God will judge with righteousness, and he will guide the nations of the earth. For nations that have been walking in the darkness of their own sins, the righteous judgments and laws of God and the Spirit to obey such laws are indeed a blessing that is worthy of singing for joy and with gladness.

Insight – The Blessing of Abraham that came upon the whole world is the gift of the Holy Spirit who gives people faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:14). The Holy Spirit was given to the world on the Feast of Pentecost, when this Psalm was most likely to be sung. Jesus tells his disciples that “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers few. Pray earnestly to the Lord of Harvest that he would send laborers into the harvest” (Luke 10:2). The harvest is the gathering up of all the believers throughout the whole world. This Psalm is a prophecy about the future salvation of the world, of people from every nation, who will be blessed by God with the gift of the Holy Spirit. God first blessed Abraham, and then has blessed Israel, and then blessed Jesus, and then blessed the disciples, and then blessed the nations with the Holy Spirit. And He has blessed you too. Will you sing this song as you go into the harvest of people and gather them up for the Lord, so that they too might be blessed?

Catechism – Who has God blessed? Us.

Discussion – Discuss the Abrahamic Covenant and what that means for the world (Gal. 3:14). Discuss what it means to go into the harvest. Discuss the responsibility we have being blessed by God to share that blessing with others.

Prayer – O God, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sirts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal, that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of peace, and in righteousness of life. And this we beg for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Submitted by Michael Shover