Oil and Wine: Psalm 104

Psalm 104 explains that God made everything in creation. He covered the face of the earth with “the deep” to cover the mountaintops, and then he caused the water to recede, making oceans and valleys. He set the boundaries for the water, and he provided springs for animals to have water to drink. God made everything and is in control of everything. This chapter overflows with awe-inspiring reminders of how big the Lord is. When I was reading this chapter, I stopped at verse 15 and smiled. After having dinner and porch time with my roommate last night, I thought about how even those things are part of God’s provision for me. Verses 14 and 15 are the best:

You cause 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.

God makes vegetation to grow so that animals can eat, but he also gave us the earth so that we would have what we need for life. We get food for strength, wine for happy hearts, and oil for shining faces. These two commodities, oil and wine, were essential for life then, and they’re just as precious now. No, my life doesn’t depend on olive oil. And no, wine isn’t my primary beverage. But, from these two things life does spring forth.

Glad hearts. Really, verse 15 is the best. God made wine to gladden the heart of man. Wonderful, isn’t it?! I got to spend some time with a few ladies over wine on Wednesday night, and I know this to be true: When we share a meal together, have a glass of wine together, laugh together and cry together, our hearts are made glad, and this seems to be part of God’s design! (I know wine is somewhat of a “gray” area, so I defer to Frank’s teaching on “Graying Responsibly” when questions come up.) God gives good gifts. Like anything, we can abuse those gifts, but if we use them with a right heart, how wonderful they are. Wine warms our hearts and creates an intimate setting among friends. Over wine we share in good times and bad. It’s not the wine itself that cheers us. It’s what happens over wine and who it happens with. Conversations that happen over wine can give us new insights, new perspectives, renewed joy, stronger bonds, and even new love. Praise God for wine.

Shiny, happy faces. This is cool… God gives us food to eat, water to drink, shelter, an outpouring of his presence, wine to make our hearts glad, but he also cares about our glow?! My first mental image is of being at the beach (because I’ll be there in a week!) and the oil and sweat that define sun bathing. Again, we can overdo it in unhealthy ways, but we all know the satisfaction of seeing the sun-glow on our faces. We see people with the sun-glow and we want to know where they’ve been. When we glow, people are drawn to us, and they ask questions. I also think about the gym-glow. It too comes from sweat and natural oils. People just look good when they’re a little sweaty and oily. Hard work looks good on people. There are also a plethora of home remedies for glowing skin that include olive oil or coconut oil. We want faces that glow, don’t we? We want people to look at our countenance and see goodness. When Moses came face to face with God, he came away with a glowing face, literally. So maybe there’s something to this idea of glowing, and maybe God cares about it more than we think. This passage talks about provision from the earth, so I think it’s true that God gave us natural oils for glowing faces. God cares about health and beauty. He cares about us taking care of ourselves. He cares about my shining face, and I find comfort in that.

Everything we need. The overarching message of the chapter is that God gives us everything we need. I love the images about lions being fed by God’s hand and the sun and moon being directed by him in their courses. This chapter magnifies an already magnified God.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
27 These all look to you,
 to give them their food in due season.

Precious gifts. A God made Leviathan, and he feeds all the creatures of the earth. Yet he still makes sure I have wine and oil, precious commodities, blessings he doesn’t have to give. He cares about the little things. He cares about girls sitting around a table sharing life together. He cares about our countenance and our glow. He is good and loving. There’s nothing he’s forgotten. Nothing.

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