Friday, July 15, 2016

PSALM 104, another peek...


"Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
He 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."
(verses 2-4)

As in other places in Scripture, this description by the sacred poet has layers.  Just because they change, doesn't negate what has been said, but just think of it as another layer pulled back to allow us to view it in a deeper way.  Just on the surface, this is a beautiful description of the magnificence of God, the creator.  Adam Clarke sums it up as the work of the second day of Creation.
"Then God said, 'Let there be an expanse (firmament) in the midst of the waters,
and let it separate the waters from the waters.' 
And God made the expanse, and it was so. 
And God called the expanse heaven. 
 And there was evening and there was morning, a second day."
(Genesis 1:6-8)

O God on high in the sky!  This is His sacred pavilion where He dwells in the heavens.  It is a place, but He is not limited to staying in place, something we're not comfortable with.  He moves about like the wind, in a fast chariot of clouds.  We are more comfortable with God confined in the sanctuary and would like to bolt the doors to keep Him in His place.  Alas, He is too great to be restrained.  The Jews don't even have the ark of the covenant to carry around on their shoulders anymore.  God is loose!  Actually, it is good news to have God unleashed in our world, even though it affirms He is greater than we can even imagine when we let Him out of our little box. 

Perhaps his ability to move about was hinted at with the camping in the tent, remember the tabernacle in the wilderness ever on the move.  Think of the Holy of Holies with the cloud over it representing the Divine Majesty as it resided there, "when it moved together with the ark; sitting on a *circumambient (extending all around; surrounding) cloud, and carried on high through the air.  That seat of the Divine Presence is even called by the sacred historians as its proper name, 'The Chariot.'" (Adam Clarke)  *(I had to put aside the handy-dandy paperback dictionary where it was not found and bring out the big guns in my old "Webster's New World Dictionary from college days to find the word: so the word of the day is "circumambient.")

Oh, boy, He walks on clouds!  He makes clouds His chariots!  No wonder He could walk on water.
"Borrowing his figure from the person of some great king, presenting himself very glorious to his people, in his robes, in his pavilion, with a glittering canopy extended over his throne sometimes in his chariot, drawn by the swiftest horses with his nobles, ministers, and servants, waiting on his pleasure."  (Adam Clarke) If our candidate for the highest position in our government were to act in such a manner, we would distain him or her and laugh them out of office for their bombastic pomposity.  For ever since we threw off old King George of England back in the day, our only king is the King of Kings.  

"He makes the winds His messengers,
flaming fire His ministers."


Oh my!  Angelic messengers and flaming fire ministers!  "No creature of greater quickness and agility than a spirit; no element more active than fire: these blessed spirits He sends forth as He pleases, to defend His servants; and as a flame of fire to consume and burn up His enemies, in which appears His might and majesty. (They better hurry up and take off their shoes before the burning bush gets out of control!)" (Adam Clarke)  Think of the unusual phenomena of a tornado in the huge flames of fire, a firenado.  Yeah, you get the picture.  Yep, He's fast.  He can slip through doors and even burn them up!  Who needs to watch a superhero movie when you've got a God like that!

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