By Ellen Ceely
“Bless the LORD, O my soul; O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; He makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. He set the earth on its foundations, so that it never should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you had appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass; so that they might not again cover the earth. O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!” - Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35b
I don’t know about you, but I grew up thinking about God as a list of characteristics. This list was full of attributes, most of which were biblical and some from my own experience. There’s nothing wrong with knowing the qualities and characteristics of God. We know that he is good and kind and loving and powerful and gracious and all-knowing—the list is long and glorious and worthy of our time and study.
Lists are good and helpful; they remind us of things we might otherwise forget. But lists are not relational or emotional. Lists keep us level-headed and give us a sense of control—but that’s not always a good thing. Lists don’t engage the heart; they only engage the mind.
Passages like Psalm 104 take away the list and give us a broader picture of who God is. Rather than teaching us how to categorize the God we serve, David shows us a poetic vision of a God whose character is beyond boundaries.
Our list says that God is all-powerful, but David’s picture shows us what that power looks like: God wrapping himself with light as with a cloak and spreading out the heavens like a curtain!
We know that God is the creator of the universe, but David paints us a visual of what that means: God set the earth upon its foundations so that it shall never move!
Our list tells us that God is wise, but David explains how that wisdom is carried out: in his manifold works, in the creatures that fill the earth! Lists and logic are gifts from God. But God is not just a God of logic. He is also the author of beauty, the essence of majesty, and the sovereign of creativity. He is complex and relational and worthy of our study and our praise. “May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD” (Psalm 104:34).
Do you struggle with seeing God as a list of attributes instead of meditating on what those attributes mean? Take some time to read this passage today and allow your imagination to picture who God is. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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