You [God] covered it [the earth] with the watery depths as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth.
He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
I seem to be subconsciously drawn to water. I’ve moved around a great deal in my life, but the majority of the homes that I’ve lived in have been next to water – rivers, ponds or lakes. Perhaps that’s what has led me to take up water sports; I love sailing, swimming and kayaking, but will happily turn my hand to most other water-based activities. I wonder if I’m alone in feeling an attraction to water? I’ve often wondered if all humans have some kind of magnetic attraction to water. After all, the typical human body is about 60% water.
I think that attraction to water is one of the reasons why I love these particular verses of Psalm 104. They describe beautifully God’s work with water, at creation and beyond. This section of the Psalm begins by describing how God initially covered the earth with water, before he rebuked them and they receded to the places that he had assigned for them. The power of God truly knows no bounds; his creation responds to his command, and even the waters obey him.
The Psalmist continues by highlighting the life-giving nature of water. He talks of mountain springs, which as anyone who has ever sat by one will attest, seem to radiate a quiet restfulness as they trickle through the landscape. Water sustains the birds and the animals, the Psalmist sings, and enable trees to grow which provide homes for the birds. Finally in this section, the Psalmist talks of God watering the mountains, satisfying the land; in other words, it is he who brings the rain that fills the rivers that provide the water that sustains all life on our planet. Without his life-giving goodness, God’s creation would shrivel and die. It is only as a result of his goodness and his generosity that life continues to this day.
There’s a quiet beauty in this Psalm that to me mirrors the landscapes that the Psalmist describes. Water is pure, life giving, and life sustaining. Water refreshes physically, whilst rivers, streams and the sea have the potential to refresh mentally too. All this comes from God, who is gracious in his provision and in control of nature. What a wonderful thought on this busy day? Let’s give thanks to God today for the water of life.