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.
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.
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.
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.