Lesson for January 22, 2017: Praise God the Creator (Psalm 104)
Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in the January 15, 2017, issue of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.
By Mark Scott
The Creator is separate from his creation. He transcends nature. Creation is awesome. The Creator is more awesome. The disciples found this out when a storm arose on the Sea of Galilee. It was one thing to face the storm (Mark 4:35-38). It was quite another thing to face the one who could calm the storm (Mark 4:39-41).
As we have learned this month, many of the psalms celebrate God as Creator over his creation. Psalm 104 can be added to that list. In fact, as Book IV (90–106) of Psalms ends, this theme of celebrating God as Creator (and Redeemer) is strong. Psalms 103 and 106 celebrate God’s forgiveness and love. Psalms 104 and 105 celebrate his creation and his faithfulness to it.
The Creator Works in His Creation | Psalm 104:1-4
The psalmist (who likely could have been King David, since he wrote the previous psalm) once again began with Praise (literally, “bless”). He summoned up his soul for this praise as he acknowledged the greatness of God. By using the metaphors of clothing, building, and nature, we see how intimate the Creator is with his creation.
God is clothed with splendor and majesty and the Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment. God the Father is spirit (John 4:24) and therefore is not like a human being getting dressed. Yet through the figure of speech known as anthropomorphism, the Lord is pictured as getting dressed in light.
The Creator is involved in creation as a builder. He stretches out the heavens like a tent. Think about someone going camping and setting out on the ground everything for the camping experience before assembling the tent. God does that with the heavens (Genesis 1:8; 2 Corinthians 12:2). Also he lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. It is as if God pounds huge concrete buttresses into the water so they can support the heavens.
The Creator is also involved in his creation as one who controls the wind. In fact, he makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. Since the word Spirit (as in Holy Spirit) means breath, wind, or something pulsating, God can use clouds as a means of transportation and battle (2 Kings 2:11). He can appoint winds to become messengers and flames of fire to be his servants (see also Acts 2:1-4). God is not distant from his creation (as the deists believe). He transcends creation but works in it.
Creation Bears Witness to the Creator | Psalm 104:24-30
God calls to his creation, and his creation responds with obedience. Some of the verses not included in the printed text (Psalm 104:5-23) continue the theme of God’s involvement with his creation. Some of the verses deal with God actually calling creation into being (vv. 5, 8, 9, 19, 20), and some of the verses deal with God sustaining the universe by his providence (vv. 10-18).
But beginning in this third section the psalmist calls creatures to the witness stand on behalf of their Creator. The word translated creatures in verse 24 comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to acquire something” (as in, God owns these creatures). The word translated creatures in verse 25 comes from a Hebrew word that means “something that creeps along the ground.” So whether the creature is in the sea or on the land, it bears witness to its Creator.
The word for God’s creativity in making sea and land creatures is called works. It highlights something made, done, or accomplished. First the psalmist acknowledged the sea creatures. The ocean home God made for them is huge. This home is so vast and spacious that ships can sail on it and creatures like Leviathan can play in it. This is a fascinating creature. The word Leviathan appears six times in the Old Testament and refers to a sea monster or some kind of large aquatic animal. (Think Nessy in the famous Loch of Inverness, Scotland.)
The psalmist also acknowledged land animals. God feeds these animals and they gather it up. God opens his hand (another example of anthropomorphism) and satisfies them with good things. When God, for whatever reason, hides his face, they are terrified. God can allow them to die and return to the dust. It all depends on God’s Spirit.
When the Spirit moves, creation responds to its Creator. We would do well to follow that lead.
*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|January 16: Psalm 104:5-9|
|January 17: Psalm 104:10-18|
|January 18: Psalm 104:19-23|
|January 19: Psalm 104:31-35|
|January 20: Psalm 8|
|January 21: Matthew 6:25-34|
|January 22: Psalm 104:1-4, 24-30|