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The psalm uses three different forms – speaking to himself, speaking to the readers, and speaking to the Lord.

In verses 2-5 and 10-19 it is as if he speaks to his readers objectively about who God is and what he has done.

In verses 6-9 and 20-30 he speaks directly to the Lord – observe the use of ‘You'.

All of it comes with a sense of reverent awe, extolling God and providing fuel for our worship of Him.



v.1 Personal Exhortation


v.1  (instruction to himself to praise God) Praise the Lord, my soul.

(why? because he is so great) Lord my God, you are very great; 

(He appears so full of splendour) you are clothed with splendor and majesty.


v.2-5 He stands back and describes to us what the Lord does and has done

(the psalmists recognition of the Lord's greatness, over and above the earth)


v.2  (the Lord's glory always surrounds him) The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
(space is but his home) he stretches out the heavens like a tent

v.3  (your home is above the cloudsand lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
(indeed the scudding clouds look like your transport) He makes the clouds his chariot
(and you sail across the sky on the wind)   and rides on the wings of the wind.

v.4  (the winds seem to bring his messages) He makes winds his messengers,
(lightning does his bidding) flames of fire his servants.


v.5 (he established the earth) He set the earth on its foundations;
(so it is fixed and immovableit can never be moved.


v.6-9 He steps forward and addresses the Lord directly - His initial acts of creation

(the psalmist's recognition of God's initial creative acts seen in Gen 1:6-10)

v.6  (you made much water on the earth) You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
(so much it even covered what today we call mountains) the waters stood above the mountains.

v.7 (but at your command the waters receded) But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;

v.8 (as water evaporated what was left flows down as rivers and streams) they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them.

v.9 (and seas were formed of designated sizes) You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth.


v.10-19 He stands back again and describes to us what the Lord does and has done


v.10 (he reiterates the Lord's creative acts but now seeing it bringing water for the life on earth) He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.

v.11 (those waters provide for living creatures of the earth) They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

v.12 (even the birds need water as do the trees they nest in) The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.

v.13 (the water cycle means water comes from the clouds, runs down the mountains, fill the seas and is evaporated to clouds again, a constant supply ) He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

v.14  ( grass for cattle, plants for mankind, food grown using water) He makes grass grow for the cattle,
    and plants for people to cultivate—
  bringing forth food from the earth:

v.15 (the fruits – drink that brings pleasure) wine that gladdens human hearts,
(oil for skin care and enhancing beauty and wellbeingoil to make their faces shine,
(bread the staff of life that sustains usand bread that sustains their hearts.

v.16 (the provision enables great trees to grow) The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

v.17 (and there provide homes and security for birds) There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the junipers.

v.18 (some of the creatures find security in the high mountains) The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.


v.19 (day, night, seasons, all profit from the sun and moon) He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.


v.20-30 He steps forward again and addresses the Lord directly


v.20-27 The activity of the Earth

v.20,21 (Lord, you created the night where the animals prowl to find their food) You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God.

v.22  (when the sun rises they retire) The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens.

v.23  (daytime is the time when people get up and work) Then people go out to their work, to their labor until evening.


v.24  (all of this activity is because you created them) How many are your works, Lord!  In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

v.25  (in the sea there is just as much activity) There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.

v.26  (on the surface similarly, much activity) There the ships go to and fro, and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.


v.27  (all this life relies on you to provide for them) All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time.

v.28-30 God's interaction with all creatures


v.28  (you provide it, they receive it) When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.

v.29  (if you don't they are in trouble) When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.

v.30  (by the power of your Spirit you bring life to creatures and plant life alike) When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.


v.31-35 To God be the Glory


v.31  (may God's wonderful presence be here forever, Him rejoicing in all His works on earth) May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—

v.32  (He comes, He moves and the earth is changed) he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke.


v.33  (this touches my heart so I will sing of it forever, praise to my God) I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

v.34  (may my conclusion be aright and please him) May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.

v.35  (yet will those who are godless and unrighteous be taken away. I will praise Him for He is worthy) But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Praise the Lord, my soul. Praise the Lord.



Comment: The apostle Paul rebukes the unbelieving world for its failure to perceive God in the wonder of His world (Rom 1:19,20) This psalm is an antidote for that unbelief as the psalmist focuses our attention on the wonder of the Lord's activity (v.2-5), His activity in establishing the planet (v.6-9), bringing life with living creatures and His provision for them (v.10-19), seen in all the activity on the earth (v.20-27), seen in the way how He provides for them and they rely on Him (v.28-30). All of this provokes him into praise and worship (v.31-35) – and hopefully us as well.


Design Criteria

1. Divided by main sub-headings.

2. Each verse is prefaced by a brief mini-paraphrase of what follows,

3. One or two paragraphs also have mini subheadings to add clarity.

4. The general comment at the beginning lays out what is coming and the final 'Comment' provides a wider perspective.

5. Psalms are often quite difficult to divide up and often require much more effort that simple narratives.

NB. It should be noted that our references to paraphrases are not those of the original text but are simply ways for the everyday reader to try to summarise or encapsulate what they find in the translated text, to make sense to them.