1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run the course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes it circuit to another; nothing is hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right , giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.
10 They are much more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
14 May the words of my heart and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Once again, this is a psalm that someone could write a book on and its treasure trove of riches can be mined over and over in future posts. The first thing to be noticed about this passage is what abundant riches of revelation God has given us through (1) the starry host above us (vv. 1-6) and (2) the written word of God (vv. 7–11).
As someone who lives in a rural area in northeast Washington without the “light pollution” of the cities and suburbs, I wholeheartedly agree with David that the heavens above us declare the glory of God. There are nights out here on the back deck of my cabin that truly feel like heaven is intersecting with earth and you half expect to see a host of angels descend out of heaven like they did for the shepherds at the birth of Jesus or maybe ascending and descending on Jacob’s Ladder.
I think ecological degradation makes Satan extremely happy because it robs the human species of this uplifting experience. Environmental issues are a political football that have been tossed around for decades but all Christians should agree that we are called to be be responsible stewards of the earth we have inherited. It redounds to our benefit: we see the face of God in the beauty of his creation.
In observing the grandeur and majesty in the Milky Way and the Orion Nebula, we get a glimpse of the grandeur and majesty of God. In seeing the intelligent design of how the heavens have been arranged, we brush up against the greatness of the Intelligent Designer. It’s just a shadow of a greater reality, but, even as a shadow, David is right in saying that they abundantly declare the incomprehensibly sublime nature of God. Centuries later in the New Testament, the apostle Paul would proclaim this in Romans 1:20:
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Apparently atheists won’t have a leg to stand on when they appear before God in the hereafter. There’s plenty of evidence in the cosmos and on earth to believe in God.
The wondrous riches of God have also come to us through Scripture, his written word, that David gives different names– law, statutes, precepts, commands, and ordinances–that describe different dimensions of the word. The psalmist also revealed what salutary effects the word has on us: it revives our soul, makes us wise, gives joy to our hearts and light to our eyes, and admonishes the man and woman of God to stay on the straight and narrow.
Stars give us a general revelation of who God is; Scripture is more specific and also answers the question, “How then should we live?” Scripture also gives us the most important revelation: the life and teachings, death, burial, and resurrection of the One who created the starry host: Jesus Christ.
Every Christian who has had even just a few years logged in the kingdom of God can attest to how the Holy Spirit illuminating the written word has changed their lives. Just the other day I was under a lot of stress and was greatly helped by Psalm 20. A good time of Bible study can put a spring in your step and keep you from making mistakes you’ll regret later. We’ve all heard sermons that have changed our lives or have been transformed by a biblically–based book or a series of teaching tapes or CDs rooted in the Holy Writ. Scripture truly is more precious than much pure gold (v.10) and is never more precious than when it is foreshadowing (Old Testament) or revealing Jesus Christ (New Testament).
What’s obvious to me in vv.12–14 is that David didn’t merely encounter truth about God through the starry host and Scripture, he encountered God himself. These two avenues of revelation were bridges to greater intimacy with God for David. This is evidenced by his preoccupation in these verses with hidden faults, willful sins, and wanting to be blameless before God in thought, word, and deed.
I’m convinced David beheld the holy face of God in the starry host and in Scripture, saw his own sin, and emerged wanting to please God in every area of his life. These twin sources of revelation were like a mirror that showed him his blemishes and hidden faults. May the same thing happen to us when we gaze into the riches of both the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture.
If you like this post from Jonathan, you may also like his new book, Letters from Fawn Creek, that is now available at this link:
- Psalm 19:1 (blogforthelordjesuschristianleaders.wordpress.com)
- For all have come short of the glory of God. (bryanmatthews38.wordpress.com)
- Thanksgiving (closetprofessor.wordpress.com)