Tuesday, November 21, 2023

2023.11.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 104:31–35

Read Psalm 104:31–35

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the psalmist pray would endure (Psalm 104:31a)? For how long? Whom does he pray would rejoice (verse 31b)? In what? What does YHWH do in Psalm 104:32a? To what? What does it do? What does YHWH do in verse 32b? To what? What do they do? What will the psalmist do in Psalm 104:33a? To Whom? For how long? What will the psalmist do in verse 33b? to Whom? When? What does he pray would be sweet (Psalm 104:34a)? To Whom? What will the psalmist be (verse 34b)? In Whom? About whom does the psalmist now pray in Psalm 104:35a? What does he pray would happen to them? And that what would happen to whom in verse 35b? What does he now command to do what (verse 35c, cf. Psalm 104:1a)? How does he conclude the Psalm (Psalm 104:35d)?

Why do believers exist? Psalm 104:31–35 prepares us for the opening portion of public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that, more than any other creature, believers exist to enjoy the Creator as He does. 

From the creation to the Creator (Psalm 104:31-32). In the previous section (Psalm 104:27-30), the psalmist had turned his attention from the Lord’s provision for the creatures to the personal nature of that provision—focusing more upon Lord Himself. Now the attention narrows even further to the Creator Himself. His glory, His joy, His personal interaction with the creatures. 

  • His glory endures forever (Psalm 104:31a). He is un-creaturely. They come and go, but He endures forever. And, in every moment of that enduring, He is glorious. Infinitely weighty. Of such immense substance and reality, that in His presence, the creature must know its infinitesimal lightness by comparison. He has being inherent to Himself; all others depend upon Him for our being.
  • He rejoices in His works (Psalm 104:31b). He Himself is the great excellence. His works are wisely considered, powerfully executed, mercifully carried out, faithfully consistent. Everything about His works is excellent. However, none of these excellencies compare to the greatest one: His works are His. This is the great reason for our rejoicing in them. And this is the great reason for His rejoicing in them—and His rejoicing in His works is infinitely greater than our rejoicing in them! God is good, and God does good, and God rejoices in the good works that He does.
  • He interacts with His creatures (Psalm 104:32). What an infinitely formidable thing it is for the creature to interact with the Creator! Verse 32 takes us to Sinai, when the Lord made Himself known on the earth in burning and darkness and tremblings even from afar off (Cf. Exodus 19:16, Exodus 20:18; Hebrews 12:18). And yet, this is the God with Whom we always have to do!

Known by redeemed, covenanted creatures (Psalm 104:33-34). Men are different from the beasts in that when they enjoy goodness from God (cf. Psalm 104:28b), they can conscientiously enjoy God Himself, and His goodness itself. But all men have sinned in their first father and fallen from this holy delight in the Lord and His goodness. However, by grace, Psalm 104:33 takes the prayer for the Lord’s own delight in Himself (Psalm 104:31) and mirrors it in the delight that He gives the believer to have in God. What God has always done in Himself, He has given to man to do with man’s own life (Psalm 104:33a), with man’s own being (verse 33b). 

Man was created for this, in the image of God, and delighting in the Lord is the great thing into which man has been redeemed, as he is renewed into the image of God in Christ. The redemption in Christ’s blood brings man into a covenantal bond with God in which He doesn’t just sing praises to God but sings praises to “my” God. Psalm 104:34 brings all of this together in a mutual delighting as, in the first line, the musings of the believer’s heart are sweet to God, Who observes them; then, in the second line, these musings have produced the believer’s own gladness in YHWH.

Application to history and to the heart (Psalm 104:35). Believers restored to a full delighting in God forever, in a way that is pleasing also to Him, is the end toward which not only the saint is proceeding, but toward which all of history is proceeding. When the Lord has gathered and perfected His saints, indeed the new heavens and the new earth will contain no sinners, no wicked. So, as we have learned from Romans 8:22–26, the creation, and the believer, and the Spirit all groan for that coming day when the resurrection has come, and the hope in which we were saved has become sight. This is the groaning, the longing of Psalm 104:35a–b.

So, the Psalm concludes as it began: “Bless YHWH, O my soul!” (Psalm 104:35c). The Spirit has traced for us from creation, through providence, to redemption, and eternity: all of this is moving toward believers’ delighting in God. This is why we have being; this is why our souls have been redeemed. So, let me instruct myself from God’s Word; indeed, let me receive His own instruction. Bless YHWH! But then the camera zooms out to all of creation, with the plural, general, cosmos-wide command: “Praise YHWH!” (verse 35d). Or, in transliteration of the Hebrew, “Hallelujah!”

Why do you exist? For what were you redeemed? When do you practice delighting in the Lord? What evidence have you seen of this working out into other parts of your life? Who else delights in this? Who can increase your joy in God? By what means does His Word teach us that He does so? What use are you making of those means? What fruit do you see from it? How do you practice the self-talk modeled at the beginning and end of this Psalm?

Sample prayer:  O Lord of glory, You are from everlasting, to everlasting. Forever, You are unchangingly glorious in Your being—infinite in majesty. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You exist in perfect love, adoration, and delight. And in all Your good works, You delight in Yourself. Now, we come to You as those who are made in Your image and redeemed into Your image, so that we also might delight in You. We will sing to You as long as we live. We will sing praise to You, our God, while we have our being. Grant that, by the ministry of Your Spirit, our meditation would be sweet to You, and that we would be glad in You. We long for the day when we do so perfectly, in a new heavens and new earth. But even now, grant unto us to bless You with all our soul, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP104E “Forevermore May the LORD’s Glory Stand” or TPH104B “My Soul, Bless the LORD” 

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