Sometimes a line from Scripture sticks out like a sore thumb. Consider Psalm 104.

An inclusio frames the song: Bless the Lord, O my soul! (v 1, 35).

A cursory outline for Psalm 104:

vv1-9 Praise for the majestic Creator | vv10-30 God’s providential care/control over all creation | vv31-35 Praise for the glorious God who is greater than his creation

A song that begins an ends with blessing. Reveling in God’s power over creation. Nature flourishing under God’s care. You get the idea.

Observing these themes and features make the final verse all the more jarring:  Let sinners be consumed from the earth And let the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD! {NAS}

It’s worth considering why an uplifting psalm should conclude with a vengeful hope.

‘God is strong enough to exult in monotony’

Now to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Moody Classics ed), p 92

%d bloggers like this: