The famous British preacher Charles Spurgeon dealt with crippling depression. Once, as the young preacher’s popularity was on the rise, he found himself preaching in the Surrey Garden Music Hall. During the sermon, someone in the balcony shouted “Fire!” and panic ensued. Seven people died in the chaos, and many blamed Spurgeon for the episode. From that point forward, depression was never far behind this great man.
Seeking to run from his own internal nemesis, Spurgeon went on a holiday in Menton, France. The warm sun and stiff breeze ministered to his soul and rejuvenated his spirit. In explaining this to the pastors he trained at his college, he told them, “A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is next best.” He told them that someone who camped out in his study and did not venture into God’s creation “needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy.”
Spurgeon learned what we so often forget: it is easy to forget the goodness and glory of God when you spend little time enjoying the world He created. The longer we spend hunched over our phones, bathed in fluorescent light, the more we will lose our vision of God in His glory, splendor, and might, and the more we will find our souls withering away.
The psalmist’s words in Psalm 104 direct his soul to behold the beauty of God. He praises God for the splendor of His majesty, and in doing so, worships and sings over creation, which bears witness to God’s boundless glory. Then, he shows how creation itself trusts in the Lord’s provision and revels in the rest of creation.
This psalm emphasizes the initiative and care God took in every act of creation. He “set the earth on its foundations,” made “springs gush forth in the valleys,” caused “grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate,” and “made the moon to mark the seasons” (vv. 5,10,14,19). At every step, the psalmist shows the creative power of God and how creation benefits from what He has done.
Most of all, though, the men and women created in God’s own image enjoy this creation as a reflection of His goodness and loving care for us. He shows that the things we often take for granted are there to give us life and joy. He causes “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” (vv. 14-15).
This psalm calls us to venture outside into the good world the Father made. When we do, we find joy in what our Father provided, see His majesty reflected in what His hands formed, and cannot help but give back to Him the praise and glory that is due to His great name.
Written by Scott Slayton