God our Father | Daily Office Devotional 2021/10/9

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 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 appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
    so that they might not again cover the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
    they flow between the hills;
they give drink to every beast of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
    they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
    the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
    and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests;
    the stork has her home in the fir trees.
The high mountains are for the wild goats;
    the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.

He made the moon to mark the seasons;
    the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night,
    when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
The young lions roar for their prey,
    seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they steal away
    and lie down in their dens.
Man goes out to his work
    and to his labor until the evening.

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
    may the LORD rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the LORD.
Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Praise the LORD!

Psalm 104

What do we mean when we call God “Father”? One of today’s psalms can give us an answer. In Psalm 104, the psalmist goes on a journey of praise, spanning the breadth, length, height, and depth of creation. He surveys the sky, the firmament, the plains and valleys, the rivers and seas. He bows his head before God, by whose power all these things were made.

To the psalmist, God is, in some sense, above us—not simply spatially but transcendentally, exceeding our capacities and categories. This is why he breaks out in exuberant doxology no less than three times as he recounts God’s marvellous works (Psalm 104:1, 24, 31). God is Father—the source and basis of all creation.

What else could we say about God as Father? Our Lord tells us of another of God’s traits which reveals His divine Fatherhood. In Matthew 7:11, He says: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

The psalmist knows this full well. In his panegyric on the works of God, he presents all creation as God’s gift. God sets the boundaries of the destructive waters (Psalm 104:9). God irrigates the valleys and fields (v. 10). God provides food for both man and beast alike (vv. 14, 21). God sustains all life by His countenance and Spirit (vv. 29-30).

Near the end of the psalm, however, the psalmist strikes a sombre note. “May my meditation be pleasing to [God],” he says, adding afterwards, “Let sinners be consumed from the earth” (vv. 34-35). The psalmist is conscious that not all is well in the world—that in creation and in our very selves lurks sin, the antithesis of God’s creation. Death, the consequence of sin, also makes an appearance in the psalm—the possibility exists that God could hide His face from creation so that they would “die and return to their dust” (v. 29).

We must turn at this point to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. Through Him alone, we have access to God as Father, who bestows rich gifts on those He calls His own. Today, Christ gives us “wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (v. 15). In the sacraments of the New Testament, instituted by Christ himself, our Lord gives us a foretaste of the new creation which is to come. Through these means of grace, He strengthens our faith—so that we might have hope in the Father’s love for us, which exceeds creation’s breadth, length, height, and depth.

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