This is another “Hey my Self, bless God!” psalm. It takes as its theme not God’s work in forgiving and redeeming his people but God’s work in Creation. This psalm would be best read in tandem with Genesis 1-2, Psalm 8, Proverbs 8, and John 1. It reminds us that God’s act of creating and sustaining the universe was just as much a gift of grace as the cross. It did not have to be, it is gratuitous. Likewise, it calls for just as thorough and enthusiastic of a response from our soul, from our whole person.
This is a very visual psalm; one can almost see all that is being described. We move, scene by scene, through the various stages of creation: light and dark, sea and land, wild and domestic animals. A picture is painted for us of the various “habitats” that God provides for all his creatures. There is a busy, and teeming, rhythm to the created order. God provides food and water, seasons, and even life and death in their time. This is a grand vision of all parts of creation finding their place in a harmonious dance with God presiding delightedly over all of it.
We, too, must learn to revel in the variety, vitality, and fruitfulness of the created order. It is not just “nature” untouched by human ordering, either. God blesses the work of man as well; the care of domestic animals, the growing of grains, and the making of wine and oil are all understood as a part of the whole of Creation. It is our job as caretakers of Creation to appreciate and name all of this, to voice with pen and mouth all the teeming wonders of the vibrant order that God has made. We do this in both science and art, experiment and poetry.
Only in the final refrain do we get a glimpse of evil. Tersely, the psalmist calls for evil to be cut off. If we think of the Garden of Eden, we might be reminded of the sword that killed the animals who provided their skins as covering for Adam and Eve. Or we might remember the cherubim that keep sin and evil from entering the garden with their flaming swords. God loves creation and intends to redeem it, not wipe it out. Nature is red in tooth and claw and this psalm reminds us that this is because of human and satanic rebellion. On the last day Christ will fulfill, restore, and renew Creation. He will cut away from it anything that would stain it. Then Christ will preside, with his redeemed people, over a New Heaven and a New Earth to the glory of God the Father. This psalm gives us a glimpse of that. So, let us do our part in bringing it to pass by calling ourselves and others to bless the author of that very good New Creation.