Today I have three more verses of Psalm 104 to contemplate. They all have to do with how God made a world that gives us pleasure and gives him pleasure.
First, vs. 15 which says:
“Wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face to shine, and bread that strengthens man’s heart.”
This is in a section that talks about how God gives water, causing springs to gush and valleys to make streams, thus providing for wildlife (vs. 10-13). Then the singer turns to domestic animals and farming (v. 14). Verse 15 gets more specific, singling out the product of the grape, the olive, and of grain.
Wilderness nomads, Bedouins, cultivate none of these things. Manna had been compensation for the inability of the people to cultivate grain in the wilderness. But the grape and the olive are gifts of settled life in the promised land. They are not necessities.
God provides them not for necessity but for pleasure to make the heart glad and to make the face shine. God provides a surplus beyond necessity.
Second, there is vs. 26, which speaks of “Leviathan that you made to play in the sea.” Or it could be translated “Leviathan whom you made to amuse you.” The Hebrew word, sachaq, means to laugh, play, make merry, or take pleasure. Translators differ about whether it is Leviathan who is amused or God. Perhaps the sense is that God is so great that he made this fearsome creature as his plaything.
Leviathan is a marine monster. The extensive description in Job 41 seems to point to the Nile crocodile, the nastiest creature anyone in the Ancient Near East was ever likely to encounter. Yet God had made this creature for pleasure.
Third, is vs. 31, where it says, “Let the LORD rejoice in his works.” God takes pleasure in what he has made. As Genesis 1 says, he is of the opinion that creation is “very good.”
God did not make a merely utilitarian world, but gave it a surplus of good and beauty that calls forth pleasure in him and us. This would undermine any view of religion as dour, stuffy, and opposed to pleasure.
In the 1981 film Chariots of Fire British Olympic runner Eric Liddell says he runs because God “made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.”
Today I will take pleasure in God’s world and ponder what pleasure God may take in his creation of me, my family, and my community.