Humanity Has Forgotten Who We Are: Psalm 104


Psalm 104

 

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul!
    O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
2     covering yourself with light as with a garment,
    stretching out the heavens like a tent.
3 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
    he rides on the wings of the wind;
4 he makes his messengers winds,
    his ministers a flaming fire.

5 He set the earth on its foundations,
    so that it should never be moved.
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they fled;
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
    to the place that you appointed for them.
9 You set a boundary that they may not pass,
    so that they might not again cover the earth.


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10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
    they flow between the hills;
11 they give drink to every beast of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
    they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
    the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15     and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;
    the stork has her home in the fir trees.

18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
    the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;
    the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
    when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,
    seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they steal away
    and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work
    and to his labor until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

27 These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,

they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

  

Yuan: This is a psalm of praise to God. The psalmist speaks in poetic language of God’s creation, provision, and care. The poet sings in great detail of how God stabilizes the earth in the universe, arranges light and seasons, and deals with the balance of water and earth.  The Lord extends justice with floods, allows sunlight and water to nourish plants, and provides food for animals and people. God allows people to participate in his creation, using the materials he has supplied to produce wine and oil and grow food, grain, and vegetables. Using the resources he has provided, humanity can work in, inherit, and take pleasure in this world God has created.

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“Through the Psalms we also recognize our human position: we are created beings who were made to praise God and work alongside him with one heart all the days of our lives.

Xiao Lu: Through the Psalms, we recognize and marvel at God’s power, wisdom, and riches. He is the Lord of creation, God Most High, and the King of glory. Through the Psalms we also recognize our human position: we are created beings who were made to praise God and work alongside him with one heart all the days of our lives. If we do not recognize this truth, we will lose our sense of worship, forget who we really are, and will easily and arrogantly become centered on humanity.

The examples of what happens when we forget are manifold, from the present-day Zero-COVID policy to the infamous Great Leap Forward slogan which proclaimed, “The yield of the field is as high as you dare to imagine.”[人有多大胆,地有多大产。] Other examples are the over-exploitation of our earth, which causes serious destruction of the balance of nature. This leads birds to lose their habitat, animals to lose their hiding places, a large number of species to become extinct, and the ecology to be severely damaged. Humanity has forgotten who we really are: we indulge in both excessive work and entertainment that continues day and night, and have forgotten God’s providential care setting forth day and night. As humans desire to exercise control over everything that God made and which he ought to control, our work becomes labor, burden, and pressure. We lose the original joy the Lord gave us: the opportunity to work in concert with him.

Yuan: Within this workshop of the created world, we should follow God’s revealed laws and routines. We are to let the power of the Holy Spirit fill us, work humbly, and be salt and light for God. When we do these things, then the result of our work will be pleasing to God, and our good deeds will make the world know our Lord.

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“Humanity has forgotten who we really are: we indulge in both excessive work and entertainment that continues day and night, and have forgotten God’s providential care setting forth day and night.

Xiao Lu: This is a perfect prayer. The author shows us God’s supremacy: one after another, he lays out creation, wisdom, riches, relationship, and glory. Layer by layer, he shows us surprise, amazement, and admiration. We must finally give great praise to him: O God, we praise you!

Yuan and Xiao Lu are a husband and wife. Originally from China, they now live in New York, where they are members of Another Shore Church.

 

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father,

You created us to worship, praise, live in humility, self-control, rejoicing, and to lack nothing. But Father, we are separated from you by sin. We no longer know you, worship you, and obey you. We no longer work with you to fill the ground with the beauty of your earth. We no longer see work as a beauty, joy, gift, and the opportunity to enter into re-creation; instead, we have turned it into self-seeking and self-satisfaction, and there is no gospel fruitfulness. Work has become laborious, burdensome, inefficient, fruitless, and excessive.

Heavenly Father, thank you for having mercy on us sinners and sending in the flesh your only Son, Jesus Christ, to bear our heavy yoke. Because of this, we may rest and be satisfied in him.  Jesus – who can sleep in the midst of the storm, who arose to pray early in the morning, and who retreated to the mountain to pray in the face of overwhelming work – never forgets the task he came into the world to fulfill. He came to serve and glorify the Lord with a humble and obedient heart, the self-sacrificing heart of a servant. Christ, let us lay aside our anxieties.

Help us, O Holy Spirit. Open our blind eyes to look again at your creation and to understand your will, so that we may work with renewed strength and joy every day.

In the name of the Lord, Amen.

   


We are using the Psalms to guide our prayers for China

In 2022, our prayer movement is turning to the scriptural prayers found in the Psalms as we pray for the Chinese church. When you join our prayer movement, you will receive weekly prayer emails and a monthly newsletter so that you too can pray for our brothers and sisters in China.

  

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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Guangzhou

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Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

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Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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