Psalm for Pentecost Sunday (ABC)

Psalm 104: 1, 24, 29-31, 34

As with the Pentecost Vigil, the responsorial psalm for our Pentecost celebration is from Psalm 104, a nature hymn that celebrates God’s greatness, majesty, and sovereign dominion.

With its elevated poetic expressions, it stands out as one of the most beautiful psalms in the entire Psalter.

Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD, my God, you are great indeed! 

Usually psalms call others to praise God; here, the psalmist calls himself.

The Hebrew word that is translated “soul” (nepesh) comes from the word for breath. This term carries a range of meanings, including life-breath (or soul), life itself, and a living individual. In this context, nepesh likely refers to the innermost core of a person, the center of their very being.

In other words, the psalmist is calling upon every facet of their existence to offer praise to God.

How manifold are your works, O LORD! The earth is full of your creatures. 

The psalmist is overwhelmed by the marvels of God’s creation, and overcome with a sense of reverence and holy awe. The sheer volume, diversity, and complexity of creation are astounding.

Contrast this with the creative endeavors of humankind. When we undertake something complex, we often neglect certain aspects or the creation falls short of its intended purpose. God’s creations, though vastly larger in number, scale, and complexity, are all made in wisdom and with the greatest exactness; there is not the least flaw or defect in them.

When human creations are closely examined, for example with a microscope, we usually find roughness or imperfections. In contrast, works of nature under the same scrutiny appear more refined and precise, not less.

This all points to the wisdom of God that is inherent in his works. God’s creations are in harmony and serve their intended purpose, for the good of the universe and to the glory of God himself.

If you take away their breath, they perish and return to their dust. 

God’s spirit is both the breath of life that created them and the force that sustains them. The forces of life in nature operate according to God’s divine will: when the breath of life leaves a creature, it returns to the dust it came from (Genesis 2:7, Job 12:10).

When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

God not only creates but re-creates. The ongoing forces of nature constantly bring forth new life. When creatures die, new generations replace them, ensuring a continuous cycle of creation and renewal.

The face of the earth is renewed each day by the light of the sun, and from year to year by the fertility of the soil and the turning of the seasons. Creation is an ongoing event that we are privileged to witness.

God’s works are glorious indeed!

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD be glad in his works! 

The psalmist prays that God will be pleased with his creation, echoing the divine satisfaction in the beginning when God beheld all that he had made and found it very good (Genesis 1:31 – 2:4).

Pleasing to him be my theme; I will be glad in the LORD.

Finally, the psalmist prays that God finds his praise acceptable. This final verse can also be rendered as, May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s