Lectionary Year B
June 11, 2000
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Step II: Disposition


This part of this Psalm praises God and recites some of the works of God that apparently cause such praise. It gets a little hung up on the sea and its creatures and their awareness of Godís providence for which they appear grateful, too. It is rather poetic, although right unbalanced, especially when the author gets going on his favorite topic, marine biology. It does give God a great deal of credit for creating, though. In the final four verses it emphasizes the psalmistís intentions to praise God totally and gladly.


Now, what about the image of wisdom, how much does this idea figure in the message this passage seeks to declare? The figure of the Leviathan intrigues me and I have to wonder just how important it is to this pericope. Why do we emphasize the works of the sea without referring to the works of the land (with the exception of verses 30b and 32 [only]), the sky, or the humans created, too? Does the Spirit God send/go to/abide with the sea creatures as well as humans? And, would God really take away our spirit? And, do these few rather brief references to Godís Spirit, along with that in verse 30, comprise the reason this part of this Psalm is the lection from the Psalter for Pentecost Sunday this year? And, I am certainly glad verse 35a was omitted from our lection, but I have to wonder whether it has a rightful place originally in this Psalm. These questions tell me I have a lot to learn about this pericope and its value for the contemporary church.

This passage begins with an exclamation that speaks volumes, regarding the authorís and/or receiversí and/or recitorsí frame of reference. It includes the wide generality of Godís works. Then it appears to prepare to enumerate those works and/or the locales of them. However, it spends five verses concentrating on the sea and its inhabitants. In all those verses, nevertheless, God is mentioned, even if by a pronoun unquestionably referring to the Creator. Thereafter, from verse 31, we get the glory to be expressed to that Deity. Verse 32 might be interruptory when it mentions Godís looking at the earth and its trembling and touching the mountains and their smoking.

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