Lectionary Year B
June 8, 2003
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Step V: Hermeneutical Bridge


The first 23 verses of this Psalm mention enough of the rest of Creation to satisfy me that this pericope can inspire a sermon that today can avoid being too narrowly focused, e.g., on the sea alone. The sea, so predominant in the text, did constitute a major concern for the ancient near easterners. The “theological ‘center of gravity’” seems to be God and the “works” of the Divine, the most exemplary part, according to these selected verses, is the sea. Then, a very close second major concern is the Doxological conclusion of this Psalm. Not far from these major concerns I would include the giving (and, maybe, the taking away, too) of the Spirit, the hiding of the face and the consequences of these elements.


24 How manifold are Your works, O Lord.
      In wisdom You have made them all.
      The earth is full of Your creatures.
25 There is the sea, great and broad,
      including (in which are) as Your handiwork
      innumerable creatures moving about, both great and small.
26 There ships depart,
      (encountering) a Leviathan which You have made to play in it.
27 They all wait for You to give them (food) to eat in proper times.
28 (What) You give to them they gather.
      You open Your hand, they get their fill of good (food).
29 You hide Your face, they are dismayed.
      You withdraw their spirit and they die, return to their dust.
30 You send forth Your Spirit and they get created.
      You renew the face of the (entire) earth.
31 May be/exist/remain the glory of the Lord (remain) for ever.
      May the Lord rejoice in His good works/the things He has done.
32 He looks on the earth and it trembles.
      He touches the hills and they smoke.
33 I will sing unto the Lord as (long as) I live.
      I will sing praise to God as long as I have life.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to Him.
      As for me, I shall rejoice in the Lord.
35b Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord.


The most noticeable modern revelation of God, the most popular evidence of God today and the most manageable indication we have that God exists and functions is creation, the natural order, animals, plants, the universe. So, the witness of Psalm 104:24-34 and 35b might well be a relevant starting point for a short sighted and hurry oriented culture to begin theologizing and/or building faith. Now, can this text lead to expanding awareness of God’s being and doing good? Let’s see. Let’s try it.

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