(19) He made the moon for the seasons. The sun knows when to set. (20) You make darkness, and it becomes night when all the beasts of the forest creep about. (21) The young lions roar after their prey, seeking their food from God. (22) When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down to rest in their dens. (23) Man goes out to his work, to his labor until the sunset. (24) How manifold are your works, Yahweh! In wisdom you made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. (25) Here (is) the sea, great and wide, teeming with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. (26) There go ships and Leviathan which you formed to play in it.
The one repetition found in this segment is the adjective, “great,” (twice in vs. 25). This describes the immensity of the sea and the size of the creatures found in it. A related word is translated “manifold” (vs. 24). The Hebrew word means “multitude” or “abundance,” a number beyond counting as conveyed by its synonym, “Innumerable” (vs. 25).
I. General statement: “How manifold are your works, Yahweh!” (24)
II. Specific examples: (19-23; 25 & 26)
- the moon, the sun, and the seasons (19)
- the darkness of night (20)
- the young lions that hunt at night (21 & 22)
- humanity that labors during the day (23)
- the sea with all its creatures, small and great (25 & 26)
Every part of Yahweh’s creation displays the greatness of his wisdom.
Before the days of calculators and computers, we were limited in our ability to describe huge numbers accurately. The more research scientists do, the larger the numbers needed to set forth the dimensions of the universe around us:
- the population of the world: 7 billion individuals and growing
- the number of cells found in every human: 100 trillion
- in each cell are found 3 billion DNA base pairs
- the number of stars in the universe: 10 followed by 22 zeros
- the total number of atoms in the universe: 10 followed by 80 zeros, an inconceivably large number
At the time Psalm 104 was written, specific ways of calculating large numbers had yet to be developed. All that the psalmist could do was exclaim, “How manifold are your works, Yahweh!” While scholars today may try to calculate how many zeroes “manifold” might contain, we are simply unable to grasp the immensity of such a large quantity. Who could ever enumerate the works of God?
The more that we probe into the mysteries of the universe, the more we realize, if we have eyes to see and hearts to believe, that God is utterly magnificent in all that he has made. In 2004 Chris Tomlin composed a worship song that beautifully captures this truth: “The splendor of the King clothed in majesty, / let all the earth rejoice, all the earth rejoice! / He wraps himself in light and darkness tries to hide / and trembles at his voice, trembles at his voice. // How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God, / and all will see how great, how great is our God!”