Have you ever found yourself staring at an orange sunset, or looking up at the starry night sky and thinking that God simply had to have made this? I know I certainly have. Psalm 19 captures this moment, and transitions to a train of thought that sometimes follows it.
The Heavens Declare The Glory Of God
There are many places in the Bible where we are told that the natural world around us should be evidence enough of God’s existence, and if we look in the right places, and ask the right questions, we find that the structure and order of nature does indeed suggest intelligent design. Occasionally, people will claim to have found a flaw in God’s design, and as a result, they will claim that God must not exist because a perfect creator would not create an imperfect creation. This seems to be quite a tall suggestion in my opinion, that mankind might be able to know what a perfect being would or would not do, let alone to suggest that we might be able to determine that God has made a mistake. I find this to be a great example of man’s arrogance.
Nevertheless, one can be assured that diligent study of the world around us will yield evidence of the Bible’s accuracy, and therefore God’s hand in creation. Currently, if we know where to look, what questions to ask, and pray for wisdom, we already find that this is the case. Science is on a course to prove the authenticity of the Bible, by simply investigating the history of the world around us. The evidence is there, we simply need to discover and interpret it correctly.
Day After Day, Night After Night
Imagine King David, looking up at the midnight sky, pondering the vastness of God’s creation. How much more have we discovered about God’s creation, and about the nature of God through His creation, since the time of David? There are only about 10,000 stars visible to the human eye, but we have discovered roughly one hundred billion galaxies, each with as many as two hundred billion stars within them. God’s creation is virtually unimaginable to mankind, and yet, in the midst of all of this, God took the time to interact with us, even to redeem us. God’s compassion must be near limitless. Just as a minor comparison, do you shed a tear for the ants that you step on in the grass? How much better than us He must be!
Some have taken this verse to be somewhat of an analogy, outlining the relationship of each generation of mankind with the next. Day after day they pour forth speech. Each day begets the next day, and explains the glory of God. In the same way, each night begets the next, and reveals to it the glory of God. While I am not sure this is the psalmists intent, I certainly find it to be a rather poetic approach to the verse.
They Pour Forth Speech, Without Speech?
In verse two, the psalmist states that the heavens pour forth speech, but in verses three and four, it is made clear that the form of speech, or communication, from the heavens is not verbal. That is, it is not a particular language, but rather it is evidence to be interpreted by us. Just as I alluded to earlier, that evidence can be made to say a plethora of things, but I am certain that if we look holistically at what we have found, there can be no doubt if God’s greatness. This evidence is available to us all across the face of the earth, as stated in verse four.
A Tent For The Sun
This is a very interesting verse, and it is one that might cause the unbeliever to claim that the Bible is wrong from a scientific perspective, and therefore it must be wrong altogether. This is a claim that requires some unpacking to disprove, so let’s walk through it point by point.
The Sun Resides In The Heavens
This is as true of a fact as ever, and is reinforced by the Bible. Today, we know that the sun resides in space, and that the Earth revolves around it as it moves through space. This verse is literally stating that the sun is residing in its designated space, it is on a path set forth by God, not chance. Coincidentally, the sun, and the rest of our solar system, is on an orbit in the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way galaxy is on a path as well, as it collectively moves through space. There can be no doubt, with biblically, or scientifically, that the sun is on a course through space.
It Rises, Runs Its Race, Then Sets
It may be important to point out that we are talking about a song (psalm) rather than some philosophical analysis of the sun, just so the context of how silly it is to discuss this is not lost. Here the psalmist is suggesting that the sun gives its energy to everything on Earth, that there is no part of the earth which is left out. This is a metaphor of how God cares for all of us, even if it may appear as though we are in the shade. Being in the shade is a choice, one that we intentionally make, and all we need to do is simply step into the light and accept what is already there for us.
The best part of this metaphor, is that it is written by God Himself. It is a metaphor that we can observe in the world around us. We can see the sun rise and fall, we can see the shade and the night, and we can see that we can control whether or not we embrace the sunlight. There is no one, anywhere on earth, who does not see that they can simply step into the light to enjoy its warmth. We can also see that the sun follows a schedule, it is on a set path, and with this observation we are given a choice: Did the sun set its own path or was it set on its path intentionally? This is a question that all people, regardless of their status or level of education can ask themselves. It is presented to us by the heavens, day after day.
Reviving The Soul
The law of the Lord revives the soul. It raises our spirits. It increases our love for one another. Tell me, have you ever felt bad after doing something good for another person? Of course not, you may have felt inconvenienced at first, but when it is all said and done, you feel good about it. Imagine if we all started our day by making a list of those around us that we intended to do something kind for. What kind of a world would just that small change in behavior bring? Certainly not a worse one.
When we speak of God’s law, sometimes it can feel overbearing. There are quite a few laws given out in the Old Testament, and quite a bit of confusion among Christians regarding which laws still apply and which do not, but Jesus summarized the law for us in Luke 10, and it is stated so that anyone can understand. Indeed, it makes the simple person wise in their behavior and in their spirit. So much so, that we teach this simple version of the law to our children whether we are believers or not. In kindergartens everywhere, you can find a poster that says to “Treat others how you wish to be treated.” Or something to that effect. This is because the law is obvious to us, it is difficult to practice, but it is obvious to us as a concept and rewarding to us when implemented.
Fear Of The Lord
What does it mean to fear the Lord? This phrase is commonly taken out of context by atheists, too commonly considering that accurate biblical definition can be found in Merriam-Websters dictionary:
- Fear – profound reverence and awe especially toward God.
Of course, there are biblical examples of common fear towards God, such as the Parable of the Talents. However, a good fear of God is to revere Him. It is to understand that His ways are just and good. It is to trust that our Creator cares more for us than we do for each other.
The psalmist goes on to ask an important question in verse twelve. Who can discern his own errors? This is an important question to reflect on, as we inherently feel as though we know whether our actions are good or bad. Do we really though? Have you ever known someone that insisted they had done the right thing, or at least “not the wrong thing” even though they really had? I know that I have, and it caused me to realize that I may be guilty of the same faulty logic. We are only capable of viewing our actions from our own perspective, and no one else. We can certainly attempt to view things from someone else’s perspective, but in order to do so we need to make certain assumptions about the other person’s history, memories, emotional state, and even their use of logic. Ultimately, when we attempt to view things from someone else’s perspective, we end up viewing things from a made up person’s perspective instead. While our imaginary character may be close to the real thing, it is not the same. God is the only being capable of such a feat. Knowing our thoughts, our memories, our emotions, He is capable of fully understanding each of our perspectives and is fully capable of knowing the consequences of our actions as well as our intent when we performed them. In this way, His justice is pure, His judgements are pure and righteous.
Psalm 19 is a fantastic summary for all believers. It explains why we believe, what we believe, and how we should believe. The psalm itself has three major sections, and now that we have walked through it all, I believe it is best to conclude with a brief summary.
- Verses 1-6
- The world around us, nature and space, confirm the truth of God’s word.
- Verses 7-11
- If the word of God is true, then God’s law must be perfect and designed for us to live our best lives.
- Verses 12-14
- We cannot discern our own errors, we must trust in God’s judgement to know what is best for us.
This framework is very beautifully captured by the psalm, and can help us when faced with doubt in our own lives. If we turn to God, whom we know to be real through His creation, and follow His law, which we know to be in our best interest as part of His creation, then the result will be the most pure and perfect outcome. It may not be the outcome we desire, as we cannot see what is best for ourselves, only what we most desire, but it will be the outcome we need.