Psalm 104: Feeding the Multitudes

Bread on a wooden table

All of these look to you
To give them food in due time.
When you give to them, they gather;
When you open your hand, they are well filled.”
(Psalm 104:27-28)

My family celebrates Thanksgiving at the home of in-laws: The Dangel clan numbers about 90. Each year, I panic that the hostess will ask me to make pies—a talent I don’t possess—instead of the too-easy dish I prepare.

Before we begin stuffing ourselves with oodles of choices that make up our feast, we pray. When all have eaten more than their fill, an abundance of leftovers remains. This is how it must have looked after Jesus fed the multitudes with a few loaves of bread and some fish.

We host a Christmas Eve party each year for my extended family: The Niklas clan is about 30 people. The much larger Dangel clan comes to our house a week or two after Easter.

Being Together

These gatherings recall verse 27 of Psalm 104: All look to God to feed them until they are well filled. I envision God preparing a heavenly banquet from scratch, without assistance.

One large table would accommodate all guests, and even the youngest children would be served on the good china. Everyone would be well filled, but no one would experience indigestion or gain weight.

Unlike me, God would calmly cope with any complications, such as the storm that crippled our city last Christmas Eve. As my husband frantically attempted to clear our steep and winding driveway, my youngest sister called to say her family couldn’t get out of theirs: They were bringing the main dish, which was roasting in her oven. Other guests had similar problems.

I thought of Mary at Cana. I had “wine to gladden our hearts” (verse 14). I really needed Jesus to turn some of the wine into a succulent roast.

Two hours before guests were supposed to arrive, we decided to postpone the party until the following weekend. When that day arrived, the snow had melted, and we were joined by other relatives who had been unable to come Christmas Eve. Many people commented, “The date doesn’t matter: What’s important is just being together.”

Snow isn’t a concern for our post-Easter party. But spring rains sometimes result in the creek on our property flooding the road, which restricts entrance and exit to our property. But most of the time, our spring celebration is reminiscent of verses 10-17 of Psalm 104: The gently flowing creek winds through the hills, and birds build their nests in budding trees. Newborn ducklings and goslings from our neighbor’s lake often raid our party, followed closely by their protective parents.

Blooming daffodils and hyacinths brighten my garden, but tulips are a rare sight, due to the abundance of deer, the roaming “beasts of the forest” (verse 20) that chomp down the buds.

New Traditions

In recent years, we’ve added a store-bought piñata to the traditional Easter egg hunt. And we light a candle at all family celebrations in memory of our older son, Tim, who died years ago. The “flaming fire” (verse 4) reminds me of others who are unable to join us. Their absence reminds me to use the good china more often because every time we break bread together is a special occasion.

Understanding Psalm 104

Psalm 104 is a great hymn of praise for God, the Creator. God subdues a dark and watery chaos to bring about a universe where all kinds of creatures might live. God’s providence is highlighted: God gives water (verses 10-11, 13, 16), food (verses 14-15, 27), dwelling space (verses 12, 17-18) and time (verses 19-23).

All things are interdependent, and all depend on God. Creation is not primarily about the distant past, but about each and every moment now. The psalmist is full of wonder and joy (verses 24, 31-35). This Creator-God is also “my God” (verses 1, 33).

Next Month: Psalm 8

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