English Basic Explanation - Chapter 104
This Psalm begins and ends with the same refrain used in the previous chapter – "Borchi Nafshi Et Hashem" ("Bless God, my soul") – which led Ibn Ezra to conclude that this chapter, too, was composed by David, who is explicitly mentioned as the author of chapter 103.
Both chapters 103 and 104 are jubilant, festive expressions of praise to God, but they emphasize and focus upon two very different themes. Psalm 103 focuses mainly on God's unlimited kindness, particularly His willingness to forgive, whereas here, in Psalm 104, David reacts to his contemplation of the vastness of the natural world, the awe-inspiring wonders of creation. He tells of how the waters once covered the mountains, until God gathered them into oceans and set limits so that they would never again cover the earth (verses 6-9). David marvels at how nature is perfectly designed to provide sustenance to all the earth's inhabitants, man and animal alike. The earth not only produces life-sustaining bread and water, but even provides wine to bring people joy and relaxation, and oil for physical comfort (verse 15). The day-night cycle is such that dangerous beasts roam in search for food in the dark of night, when people rest at home, and then return to their dens during the day when humans arise to perform their work (verses 20-23).
The flawless harmony of nature leads David to exclaim, "How numerous are Your works, O God! You made them all with wisdom!" (verse 24). One who explores and contemplates the magnificence of the natural world can only be awed and inspired by the immensity of this great miracle that is nature.
Towards the end of this chapter David exclaims, "Yismah Hashem Be'ma'asav" – "May God rejoice in His creatures" (verse 31). When a human being invests time and effort in building a large building or enterprise, his comrades will wish him that he should receive much joy and gratification from these efforts. Similarly, David wishes God, as it were, that He should rejoice in His handiwork, that the world He created with such brilliance should progress in accordance with His will, in the manner that He had intended. This will happen only when "sinners are eradicated from the earth" (verse 35), when all people finally recognize the purpose for which they were created, and live their lives in the devoted service of the Almighty.