Psalm 19: When the Sky Speaks

Read Psalm 19.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).

The night sky in the ancient world was more brilliant than anything most of us can see today. Our view is polluted by ambient light from cities and street lights. The brightness of electricity has dulled the heavens.

On the other hand, David wrote Psalm 19 before the invention of the telescope. There were no photos of distant nebulas taken by Hubble, no images beamed down from the International Space Station. No one had been to the moon and back to tell about it.

The sky was a mystery, a barrier between us and God. In fact, in ancient thought the sky was thought to be solid, a metal dome that sheltered a flat earth and separated  the heavenly and terrestrial realms. Yet it was beautiful, breathtaking even.

I imagine David was quite familiar with the night sky over Israel. He had spent countless hours as a shepherd boy in Bethlehem, out underneath the stars, and he had lived in the wilderness for a time while on the run from Saul. He knew the stars in their constellations and had seen the strange lights of the planets visible to the naked eye. He couldn’t look up without seeing the handiwork of the Lord.

There is a beauty that belongs to the desert, another to the forests, and still another to the mountains, the plains, and so on. But no matter which part of planet earth we call home, we all partake in the beauty of the sky—the dance of clouds and blue and sun during the day, and the blanket of darkness poked through with points of brilliance at night, gifts separated from each other by majestic sunsets and sunrises.

The day and the night—”they have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (vv. 3–4).

They speak of goodness: “nothing is deprived of [the sun’s] warmth” (v. 6) or the cool relief of night. God gives grace to the righteous and the wicked alike. He loves His friends and His enemies.

They speak of truth: the day and the night point to their Creator, inviting the world below to know Him. His power and His heart are there (Romans 1:20). All we have to do is look up.

They speak of beauty: there is no human artist whose work can match what God paints daily in the atmosphere. God could have created a functional yet dull backdrop for our world, but He chose to give us a spectacle, something to inspire us.

Starting in verse seven of Psalm 19, the theme shifts from the skies above to God’s law, as if a new song were starting. Some Bible scholars actually think the psalm was once two psalms. That may be the case, but whether the psalm was written as a single unit or some later editor brought the two songs together, there is a connection between nature and God’s written Word—both reveal God, both are given so that we might seek Him. They are His two books. The one makes us crave for more, to know its Maker; the other helps us appreciate, all the more, the grace that greets us each morning with the rising of the sun.

The beauty that surrounds us in nature points us to Scripture. The God who painted the skies has also written a book through the hands of men He inspired. It is “more precious than gold” and “sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (v. 10). When we read it, meditate on it, and soak it in, we are left without a shred of doubt that the God who breathed out the Scriptures also spoke the skies above us into being.

What is this all about?

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