The heavens proclaim the glory of God to all people around the world. Both God’s creation and His Word reveal His greatness.
In this Psalm 19, David meditates on God’s creation, God’s Word, his sinfulness, and God’s forgiveness.
- As God reveals himself through nature (Ps. 19:1-6), we learn about his power and our finiteness.
- As God reveals himself through Scripture (Ps. 19:7-11), we learn about his holiness and our sinfulness.
- As God reveals himself through daily experiences (Ps. 19:12-14), we learn about his gracious forgiveness that frees us from guilt.
The Perfect Revelation of the Lord
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. (Ps. 19:1)
And what a story they tell! Think, first of all, what they tell about the immensity of the universe. If we traveled at the speed of light – 186,000 miles a second or roughly six trillion miles a year – it would take us ten billion years to reach the farthest point we can see without a telescope. But this would still be far from the outermost limits of space. Now astronomers think that space may have no bounds at all! Our earth is nothing but a speck in a limitless expanse!
Think too of the number of stars and other heavenly bodies. With the naked eye, we can see about five thousand stars. With a small telescope, we can see about two million. But with the Palomar telescope, we can see billions of galaxies, to say nothing of individual stars.
Then think about the distances of the heavenly bodies from the earth and each other. Someone has pictured the distances as follows: if it cost a penny to ride 1000 miles, a trip to the moon would cost $2.38, a trip to the sun would cost $930, but a trip to the nearest star would cost $260 million.
It takes light from the most distant stars, which can be seen with telescopes ten billion years to reach the earth. So when we look out into space, we are looking backward in time. For example, we do not see the Andromeda galaxy where it is now but where it was two million years ago!
Although the stars may appear to be crowded in the firmament, the distances between them are so great that they have been likened to lonely lightships a million miles apart, floating in an empty sea.
If creation is so great, how much greater is the Creator! Day and night the heavens are telling the greatness of His power and wisdom. The firmament unceasingly proclaims the marvels of His handiwork. (In Bible usage “firmament” refers to the expanse of the heavens.) As Isaac Watts wrote,
“Nature with open volume stands to spread her Maker’s praise abroad.”
Day after day pours forth speech, and night after night reveals knowledge. (Ps. 19:2)
This self-disclosing communication by God of himself to man is unceasing: Day after day pours forth speech, and night after night reveals knowledge. This knowledge is the general revelation of God’s character, especially his eternal power, goodness, genius, kindness, and faithfulness (Rom. 1:20). This disclosure is a “soundless sermon” continually communicated in the skies.
There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:3-4a)
There is no speech, no words, no audible voice, yet the sermon of the stars goes out through all the earth and its message to the end of the world. Simply by looking up into the heavens, man can know that there is a God and can perceive His eternal power (Rom. 1:20). The terrifying dimensions and complexity of the universe confirm Lord Kelvin’s observation that “if you think strongly enough, you will be forced by science to believe in God.”
It is impossible to contemplate the fabric of the world without recognizing the admirable order of its arrangement and the certain manifestation of the hand of God in the perfection of its correlations. Reason, when once it has considered and admired so much beauty and so much perfection, feels a just indignation at the dauntless folly which dares ascribe all this to chance and a happy accident. It must be that the Highest wisdom conceived the plan and Infinite power carried it into execution.
In them, He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. (Ps. 19:4b-5)
The psalmist sees the vaulted arch of heaven as a huge tent, which God prepared for the sun. As the sun rises in the morning, it is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. The sun moves through the arc of the heavens like a strong man joyfully running a race. The course begins at the eastern end of the sky and continues down to the western horizon.
We know, of course, that the sun does not rise and set, but that the earth moves in relation to the sun, creating this illusion. But in poetic passages, the Bible often uses the language of human appearance, just as we do in our everyday speech.
There is nothing hidden from the heat of the sun. It enjoys universal exposure pervading every remote corner and crevice of the world.
And this concludes how God reveals himself through nature. In my next blog post, we are going to learn about God’s holiness and our sinfulness.
Believer’s Bible Commentary
Holman Old Testament Commentary