Psalm 104 provides a break from the early psalms (Psalms 1-6) and from the Psalms of Ascents (Psalms 120-122). This psalm presents the poetic description of Creation as compared to the narrative of Genesis 1:1-2:3. An anonymous psalmist marked off this psalm’s 35 verses by means of an inclusio like that used in Psalm 103. As a psalm of praise, it exhibits hymnic participles. As Hebrew poetry the psalm displays many forms of imagery that enhance its beauty. Psalm 104 offers an interpretive challenge regarding its subject matter: does it refer only to Creation, or also to the Flood of Noah’s day? At what point in the psalm does the author move from Creation to either the Flood or to the natural processes observable at the present day? We begin with the first four verses.
Psalm 6:9-11 (Hebrew verse numbering) closes this psalm emphatically and dramatically. David’s depression has turned to triumphant confidence. His uncontrollable weeping and consuming fear finally disappear in his concentration upon Yahweh, his God. The Lord hears his weeping, hears his cry for a demonstration of divine grace, and accepts his prayer. What a glorious conclusion to those long, dark nights of agony!
Psalm 6:7-8 (Hebrew verse numbering) describe David’s personal situation in vivid metaphors. As a result of his sin and his illness he has grown exhausted, reduced to weeping, and obviously severely depressed. This stanza of the psalm displays an opening tricolor, assonance, emphatic word order, repetition, and metaphor–all skillfully woven together to present what might be the climactic moment in the poem.
Urgent. Impassioned. God-centered. David’s prayer in Psalm 6:5-6 (Hebrew verse numbering) displays all three of these characteristics. In addition, he uses the literary skills God gifted him with in order to emphasize these three. Then David moves into the realm of the ungodly who have died to emphasize the fact that only in this life can one repent–after death no one can repent and begin to praise or thank God.
Psalms 3-7 all begin with God. David faces tremendous difficulties, some of them due to his own sin. Such disastrous experiences and perilous times make it nearly impossible to bear up under the weight pressing down upon him and the stress draining him. So what does he do?–he kneels, and prays. He turns to the only one who can actually resolve his personal problems: Yahweh. Psalm 6:1-4 (Hebrew verse numbering) continues our analysis of the Psalter psalm by psalm, verse by verse, phrase by phrase. Psalm 6 highlights a horrific (that’s David’s word for it) situation in the psalmist’s life. The master poet displays his skillful use of the Hebrew language to express his peril and, ultimately, his praise to God, his grace-giving Savior.
The final two verses of Psalm 5 (vv. 12-13, Hebrew verse numbering) close out the psalm on a very high note. It expresses a climactic crescendo of rejoicing, a six-fold emphasis centering upon Yahweh Himself, and a series of parallels with the first stanza of the psalm (vv. 2-3, Hebrew verse numbering). A striking and memorable analogy completes this psalm that in itself blesses the righteous. Please be aware that the file is large (114 slides) and will take a little time to download. These slides include the discussion and presentation of the psalm’s structure, final summaries verse-by-verse, and a closing slide containing suggested preaching propositions.