Of the 150 psalms in the Book of Psalms, 73 are generally thought to be penned by David. Of these, six are often referred to as Creation Psalms (8, 19, 29, 65, 104, 139). They are so-called because they provide the reader with a look at how God wants us to view Him in relation to His works of creation. We’ll examine three of them, Psalms 19, 29 and 104, to learn why readers over the ages have identified them as Creation Psalms.
PSALM 19: What Creation Tells Us
In Psalm 19 the sovereign God is revealed through His creation of the heavens and earth, through His commandments, and through His grace, in Christ our redeemer.
In the first six verses, God is seen as the mighty One in creation. Being a morning psalm, creation is presented in the first section. The psalm opens with “the heavens are telling of the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1 NASB). This same thought of God’s awesome creation is revealed in Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” These verses make it clear that the heavens declare the wisdom, power, plan, and purpose of God. Through creation, the witness of God is made to man. They also infer that each one must bow to His authority as Creator.
Verses 2-4 picture creation as speaking to mankind: “Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge … their sound has gone out through all the earth.” Genesis infers that the Trinity was involved in creation: “God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image’” (Gen. 1:26).
It is impossible to talk about the creation without mentioning redemption. It was because of fallen creation that redemption was necessary. The Father planned it, the Son paid for it, and the Holy Spirit protects it (Col. 1:12-14; Jn. 14:16-17). Verses 5-6 present, through the comparative technique of simile, “the sun … as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.” Who can avoid the sun, an integral part of God’s creation? It is a witness that cannot be ignored; its heat cannot be diminished. Likewise, the witness of God cannot be ignored. Verse 6 continues saying, “There is nothing hid from its heat.” Yet for the believer, that intense agent of heat and light in God’s earthly creation will not be needed in the new creation, for the Lord Jesus, Himself, will be its light and center.
Along with the creation of the cosmos, the commandments of the Lord are discussed in Psalm 19:7-11: “The Law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul.” Verse seven implies that the Law cannot save man, but it can restore him; while it is perfect, he is not. The sentence of death is upon mankind because it is born into sin. All are sinners before God, yet the Law is perfect. The “testimony” of the LORD is sure – God will always punish sin and judge those who reject Him. The “precepts” and “commandments” of the LORD are non-negotiable and absolute – they will ennoble and lift one up. The “fear of the LORD” is more than reverential trust – it literally means fear. There always has been a need to fear God when man does wrong. It is best to stay out of trouble, and “fear of the LORD” helps us to do that. Finally, in verse nine we read that the “the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.” Believers know this to be true because the Lord Jesus is true; His name is truth itself. Furthermore, His commandments are righteous. Believers love and obey His commandments. Verse 11 tells us, “They are more desirable than gold … sweeter than honey … In keeping them there is great reward.”
How else, other than through His grace, could God “discern man’s errors … and acquit him of hidden faults?” Who else other than the Lord Jesus, Himself, can keep His own “from presumptuous sins”? It is only through the grace of God that believers are kept clean from the uncleanness of this world.
The psalm closes with the mention of “great transgression” – the rejection of Christ as both creator and redeemer. Only through the grace of God does the prayer at the end of this Creation Psalm affirm Jesus as the “rock … and … redeemer” for all who place their trust in Him.
PSALM 29: God’s Power In Creation
What do you hear when walking along a grassy, flowery path on a mountainside; when seeing an orange-red sunset over a lake at dusk; or when observing a dark, thunderous sky illuminated by flashing steaks of lightning? All speak the voice of God through His creation. Some are quiet and peaceful while others predict anxiety and fear. King David observed the latter as he penned Psalm 29. Speaking more of nature than creation, the inseparable qualities of God’s magnanimous creation are seen through the overpowering characteristics of a storm.
This psalm is divided into three parts: the prologue; the powerful storm, invincible yet under the mighty hand of God; and the epilogue. The prologue exhorts the “sons of the mighty … to ascribe to the LORD glory and strength … and worship the LORD in holy array” (vv. 1-2) .
In verses three through nine, a mighty thunderstorm sweeps over the entire land as David observes it from his cedar palace built on Mount Zion, the highest point. The storm gathers and moves toward Jerusalem. Not an ordinary storm, this one is much like the hurricanes experienced by those living in coastal regions. “The voice of the LORD” characterizes the storm as it moves closer; it is both “powerful” and “majestic.” In other words, it is awe-inspiring. Lebanon is shaken with its force, and the storm throws its full fury upon Jerusalem. Having seen this witness of God’s power before, David waits as the storm passes over. Finally, the storm has passed, and the psalmist hears the roar of the water down in Kidron Valley assuring him of God’s promise that He will never again judge mankind by flood.
How did the Lord speak through this storm? Verse nine narrates its effects. Animals gave birth to their young with no prolonged pain, and all people, even those who had not gone there for some time, praised the Lord in His temple. The storm had passed over; the voice of the Lord had spoken with its desired effect upon those who witnessed it. As believers apply this truth to their lives, they are reminded that the storms of life are orchestrated by God for His purposes and for His glory.
The epilogue reminds readers of the Lord’s position “as King” over the elements of nature, assuring them that He will give “strength to His people” and “bless His people with peace” (vv. 10-11).
PSALM 104: Praise To The God Of Creation
In Psalm 104 David presents the observations of one overwhelmed with the beauties of creation as they demonstrate the splendor and majesty of the Creator. Similar to the account of the creation in Genesis, it is divided into six segments – the six days of creation.
On the first day (vv. 1-2) of creation, “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). Light is the most significant representation of God; He covers Himself “with light as with a cloak” (Ps. 104:2). The believer understands only a minute part of God’s light, His holiness, just as man comprehends only a small portion of the entire spectrum of light itself.
On the second day (vv. 3-6) of creation, “God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters” (Gen. 1:6). Relating to how the earth was located and how its foundations were laid, Psalm 104:3 reinforces the perfection of the earth, suitable for life. Earth was created by one who “lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers” (vv. 3-4).
His complete control and perfect design are next seen as the waters are perfectly divided from the land during the third day (vv. 7-18) of creation. He “set a boundary that they may not pass over; that they may not return to cover the earth” (v. 9). This harmonious portion of God’s creation is demonstrated as the waters give life to the valleys, the valleys provide a carpet of life for the plants, and the plants give sustenance to the animals. (vv. 10-14). All was divinely planned so that God may “make man’s heart glad … his face glisten with oil, and food which sustains man’s heart” (vv. 14-15).
Earth’s time clock is established during the fourth day (vv. 19-23) of God’s creation: “He made the moon for seasons; the sun knows the place of its setting” (v. 19). Once again for the benefit of man, the orderly cycles of life on earth are governed by the moon and sun under God’s perfect orchestration. From ancient times, men learned that the sun and moon regulated seed time and harvest. Given for the perpetual cycle of seasons and continual ebb and flow of life, the sun and moon move according to a divinely planned schedule that has never wavered.
On the fifth day (vv. 24-26), God created the winged and sea creatures. “There is the sea, great and broad, in which are swarms without number, animals both small and great. There the ships move along, and leviathan, which thou hast formed to sport in it” (vv. 25-26).
Once the home was prepared for him, man was created. This is the sixth day (vv. 27-30). With man’s creation, God looks upon His finished work with satisfaction and rejoicing (v. 31), thus representing the seventh day.
Combining to form the epilogue of this psalm, verses 33-35 express the praise of the psalmist as well as redeemed mankind. “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; as for me I shall be glad in the LORD” (vv. 33-34). However, unrepentant sinners have no part in singing of God’s creation or extolling His name; “Sinners will be consumed from the earth, and … be no more” (v. 35).
Undoubtedly, the thoughts of the psalmist in Psalm 104 echo those of regenerated man, as the Lord is praised through the beauty of His creation.
We hope that these few comments about three Creation Psalms encourage you to examine the others on your own to develop greater appreciation for our Creator God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dean Rogers, a recently retired high school English teacher, is the father of three grown daughters. He lives with his wife in Colorado where he is active in his local church. He was also recently a member of the Grace & Truth Editorial Committee.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org