Tuesday, August 30, 2022

God’s Bounties (Psalm 104)

"May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in His works" (Ps. 104:31)

Calvin makes two points concerning Psalm 104 that are of particular relevance today: (1) “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved” (v. 5), and (2) “He makes … wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart” (vv. 14–15).

The first subject deals with the durability of the earth. The entire psalm is a testimony to God’s power in establishing the earth as a fit habitation for mankind. God sustains the earth and has promised to preserve it until it is destroyed in the last day, only to be redeemed again. “The world did not originate from itself, consequently, the whole order of nature depends on nothing else than His appointment, by which each element has its own peculiar property,” Calvin wrote. “Nor is the language of the prophet to be viewed merely as an exhortation to give thanks to God; it is also intended to strengthen our confidence in regard to the future, that we may not live in the world in a state of constant fear and anxiety, as we must have done had not God testified that He has given the earth for a habitation to men. It is a singular blessing … in His causing us to dwell upon the earth with undisturbed minds, by giving us the assurance the He has established it upon everlasting pillars. Although cities often perish by earthquakes, yet the body of the earth itself remains.”

The second subject deals with God’s gifts of necessity and enjoyment. The psalmist not only thanks God for giving us those things we need to live, but he thanks God for pleasures as well. In particular, he mentions wine and oil. Neither of these is necessary for life, yet God in His bountiful goodness has given us such things to enjoy. “As the prophet in this account of the divine goodness in providence makes no reference to the excesses of men, we gather from his words that it is lawful to use wine not only in cases of necessity, but also thereby to make us merry,” Calvin wrote. “This mirth must however be tempered with sobriety.” While God has given us many things to enjoy, these must be used with temperance and moderation, for we must do all things, whether we eat or drink, to the glory of God.

Have you bought into today’s environmental radicalism? What ideas have you adopted from the culture that need to be rejected in light of God’s Word? Regarding enjoyments such as wine, do not label something bad that God has said is good. At the same time practice temperance in all areas.