Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Breath of God

These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
Ps 104:27-30 

I'm told the universe is expanding, and that at some point in the far distant future it will begin to contract. I can't help but think of the breath of God giving life to all that is, and that breath then being withdrawn. I imagine that the cycle repeats over and over throughout an eternity of time, a benevolent

Friday, November 16, 2018

Diversity and Wholeness

The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens.
People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening.
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
 
Ps 104:16-24

It's interesting that the normal activity of human beings is placed here in the context of the normal activity of the rest of God's creation. The Bible seldom does that. We are usually placed over and above, and given more responsibility. But here we're found among, part of the whole, able to rejoice—with the birds, the goats, the rabbits, the lions, the sun, and the moon—

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Earth Is Satisfied

By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.
 
Ps 104:12-15

How can I read these words and believe in a stingy God, a God who would require abstinence of me, who would ask that I refuse the bounty of the earth in order to satisfy a small-minded divinity. God created a world that has enough to provide for all, and then some. Yet the resources I waste would provide a seeming palace's supply of food and water and warmth to a person

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

They May Not Pass

You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they flee; at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.
You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills,
giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst.
 
Ps 104:5-11

An ancient view of the cosmos is evident here. The earth is stationary and unshakable, while not only the moon, but also the sun and stars revolve around it. Just as the earth was fixed in space, so (ideally) was everything on it. God divided sea from dry land, and appointed the proper place for the waters with "a boundary that they may not pass." This form of

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Angels Spirits

You make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers.  
Ps 104:4 

I love reading Psalm 104:4 on Pentecost, because Acts 2 mentions both wind and flame as evidence of the Holy Spirit. But this verse is far less straightforward than it appears. For example, here's the way the Authorized (King James) Version renders it:
Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire.
First the easy part: The old version of the second half is much more accurate, as is the use of the relative pronoun who at the beginning. There's no and in the second half, so it's clear that flaming modifies fire; and the first word of the overall verse appears to make it a continuation of what comes before it, not a brand new sentence.

But what about the first part about—the one making the winds God's messengers? Why is the modern translation so different from the older one, which makes God's angels spirits? Though older version makes the whole verse