The Mountains Rose
(1) Bless Yahweh, O my soul! Yahweh, my God, you are exceedingly great. You are clothed with splendor and majesty. (2) You wrap yourself with light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a curtain. (3) He lays the beams of his roof chambers on the waters. He makes the clouds his chariot. He rides on the wings of the wind. (4) He makes the winds his messengers, flames of fire his ministers. (5) He established the earth on its foundations so that it would never be moved. (6) You clothed 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 hurried away. (8) The mountains rose. The valleys sank down to the place you established for them. (9) You set a boundary which they (the waters) may not pass that they may not return to cover the earth.
Several repetitions mark this opening segment of the psalm. Its most distinctive feature is the psalmist’s use of eight consecutive participles to describe Yahweh’s greatness: “you wrap,” “you stretch,” “he lays,” “he makes,” “he rides,” “he makes,” “flames,” “ministers” (vss. 2-4). “Clothed” occurs twice, first speaking of Yahweh clothed with light (vs. 1) and then of the earth clothed with the deep (vs. 6). Other repetitions include “the earth” (vss. 5 & 9), “established” (vss. 5 & 8), and “the mountains” (vss. 6 & 8).
Note the shift from the second person in verses directly addressed to Yahweh (vss. 1 & 2 & vss. 6-9) to the third person in verses addressed to the readers about Yahweh (vss. 3-5). In worship both are appropriate. We worship Yahweh in the praise we offer directly to him as well as in the ways we describe him to ourselves and others.
I. Yahweh’s greatness is seen in the heavens he fashioned. (1-4)
II. Yahweh’s greatness is seen in the earth he created. (5-9)
The majestic greatness of Yahweh in creating all things is manifested both in the heavens above and on the earth around us.
In this lovely tribute to Yahweh’s greatness in creation we see his majesty on display in both the heavens and the earth. This reflects the desire expressed in the Lord’s Prayer: “(Let) your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10).
Consider the statement regarding the formation of the mountains (vs. 8). Only within the past century have geologists had the insight to formulate a theory that describes the process called “plate tectonics.” This theorizes that the earth’s surface, called the lithosphere, is made up of tectonic plates which ride on the asthenosphere, the molten magma underneath. It is at the boundaries of these plates where earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain building, and oceanic trench formation are most likely to occur. When two continental plates collide, they buckle and compress as one plate is thrust under and the second plate overrides the other. This theory postulates that the earth’s mountain ranges were formed over time. According to geologists, the most dramatic example of this is taking place where the northern margin of the Indian Plate is being thrust under a portion of the Eurasian plate, lifting it and creating the Himalayan range found in present day Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Tibet. Long before scientists could pinpoint the mechanics and geological forces involved, David poetically described the mountain building process (vs. 8).
Those who hold to a “recent” creation of the earth believe that this process has occurred relatively quickly due to the effects of the universal flood described in Genesis 6-8. Those who believe that the earth was created much more slowly, speculate that this process has occurred over many millennia. Whichever view we espouse, this psalm provides a remarkably accurate description of the process of mountain formation and gives us some important reasons for offering praise to our Creator.