247 - Created, Directed, and Remembered by God (Psalms 104–106)
God’s glorious creation, as well as His gracious works on our behalf, should be at the center of our praise and worship of Him. They also should remind us of our solemn obligation to live in faithful obedience to Him.
Created, Directed, and Remembered by God
What do the telescope and the microscope have in common? Well, each, in its own way, is able to magnify and intensify the glory of God’s handiwork in creation.
The telescope has revealed we are merely one of a billion galaxies in the universe, and each galaxy contains billions of stars and planets. And we still have not come close to seeing the outer edges of the universe.
The microscope has revealed the teeming complexity of creation. We now know that in one tiny drop of water from the pond out back, there are millions of bacteria, oxygen-producing algae, tiny organisms—little living creatures. One drop of water is home to more than ten million identifiable living things we don’t know much about at all.
What does this say about our creator God? Well, the psalmist here in Psalm 104:1 draws this conclusion: “O Lord my God, you are very great!” What else can you say? God is incredibly great.
Here in the first nine verses, the psalmist poetically describes God’s relationship to creation. God is wearing light like a garment (verse 2). He is riding the clouds like a chariot (verse 3). He has angels circling the globe, doing His bidding (verse 4). In his tour of heaven in the book of Revelation, the apostle John saw too many angels to count. He just said there were more than 100 million angels he heard singing—ten thousand times ten thousand (Revelation 5:11).
As vast as God’s creation is, the psalmist tells us that God cares enough about one wild donkey that He gives it water to drink (verse 11).
One Old Testament scholar writes that wild donkeys are “timid, and jealous of their liberty . . . they [hide out] deep into the desert.” In the desert, of course, there is little water, but the Lord provides for them.
You might feel a little like that wild donkey today—you want to be left alone in some uninhabited, lonely wilderness. Well, the Lord can meet you there; He can give you what you need.
The psalmist goes on in verses 16-23 to describe God’s wisdom in designing creation. Even the rhythm of time and seasons provided by the sun and moon is designed with amazing precision by God.
The New Testament tells us that creation is a tutor—a teacher (Romans 1)—to point us to the reality of our Creator.
The brilliant physicist and astronomer, Isaac Newton, built a perfectly scaled-down replica of the solar system. A large golden ball represented the sun at the center, with the known planets revolving around it through a series of cogs, belts, and rods. It was a marvelous, sophisticated, machine. One day while Newton was studying his model, an agnostic friend stopped by to visit. He asked, “Who made this exquisite machine?” Without looking up, Newton replied, “Nobody.” “Nobody?” his friend asked. “That’s right,” Newton said. “All these belts and gears and miniature planets just happened to come together, and by chance they began revolving in their orbits with perfect timing.” Nothing more was said. The message was loud and clear.
Creation is sending a message to our world that we have a Creator and a Savior. Are you listening?
Psalm 105 has much in common with the previous psalm. It is also a call to worship God for His works. Verse 2 says, “Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!”
The works referred to here are all tied to God’s relationship with His people, Israel. Many believe this psalm was written during the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon after seventy years in captivity. They are going to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem, and they are going to need encouragement. Well, let’s look at that encouragement.
Verses 7-15 cover the history of the patriarchs, beginning with Abraham. The readers are given an important reminder here:
He remembers his covenant forever . . . the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob . . . to Israel as an everlasting covenant. (verses 8-10)
Now on this Wisdom Journey back in the book of Genesis, you might remember how God sent a lifesaver into Egypt—his name was Joseph. He was sold into slavery, but God raised him up to be prime minister so he could rescue his family—and ultimately all Israel—from starvation. All that is rehearsed here in verses 16-25.
What is unique is that we are told something about Joseph’s prison time that Genesis does not tell us. Verse 18 says, “His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron...”
Joseph’s captivity was designed by God to bring comfort to His people later on. That is a good reminder that our own difficult circumstances today are part of God’s purpose for our lives. That doesn’t mean the fetters on our feet and that collar around our neck will not hurt, but we can trust that God is setting the table for the next course—we just don’t know what it is at the moment.
Down in verses 44-45, we are given two important principles to keep in front of us. Verse 44 says God gave His people “the lands of the nations” in fulfillment of His promise. The first principle is that what God promises His people, they will receive.
The second principle is this: When we receive God’s promises, He expects our cooperation. We see this in verse 45, which adds, “that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws.”
The other night I gave my grandson some ice cream for finishing his supper. There aren’t many incentives to eat your vegetables more powerful than ice cream and chocolate syrup. Well, he received that ice-cream blessing. I think he’s going to appreciate that enough so that next time we eat together he will want to please his grandpa. But, you know, even if he doesn’t obey me next time, he will still be my grandson—he just won’t get any ice cream!
And that is the principle here. God gave Israel the land—just as He promised—but He expects them to cooperate and obey Him. If they don’t, they will remain His people—they just won’t fully possess and enjoy the land as a nation.
Now Psalm 106 takes us back to when Israel is in exile from their land because of disobedience. They had forgotten God’s blessings and followed in the footsteps of their rebellious forefathers in Egypt, who, verse 7 tells us, “did not consider [God’s] wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of [His] steadfast love.”
The psalmist is not trying to beat his readers over the head with a list of their sins. We know that because after describing their sinful actions, he points to the grace of God. He saved them for His name’s sake (verse 8), “redeemed them from the power of the enemy” (verse 10), “gave them what they asked” (verse 15), and delivered them many times (verse 43).
Here’s the wonderful thing about God, which we see in the psalmist’s words in verse 44:
Nevertheless, [God] looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry. For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
They forgot God, and frankly, we are going to forget about God at times as we go about our busy lives. But let me tell you this: God never forgets us.
Now we come to the close of Book Four of the Psalms. Each book, as cataloged in ancient times, ends with a closing doxology.
Here’s the doxology that concludes Book Four:
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord! (verse 48)
Amen means, “I believe it; it’s true.” God will be faithful to His promises and His people throughout all eternity—forever and ever and ever, without end.
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