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The Heavens Tell: God’s Word Warns

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And the expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge”

Psalm 19:1 (LSB)

When I was twelve or thirteen, I went on vacation to the Dixie Dude Ranch in Bandera, Texas. One night, my uncle took me and my cousins out to study the night sky. You could see Mars that summer – a large white blip in a sea of stars that turned faintly red when viewed through my uncle’s telescope. Out there, no man-made light polluted the canopy of stars and planets we gazed upon. Futile to even attempt to count, there were so many. A distinct feeling of God’s grandeur and my smallness―that’s what the stars told that night, and what they, without ceasing, say today. They declare the handiwork, the glory of God.

That’s the same message David heard and was inspired to write down more than three millennia ago when he penned the opening verses of Psalm 19: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And the expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2, LSB). The heavens are telling. This is not a one-time declaration, but a constant telling of the glory of God. The world about you, the forests, the seas, the planets and stars, everything God created teaches us about the handiwork, the glory of their Creator. We would do well to listen.

Paul himself noticed and wrote in Romans 1 that God’s eternal power and divine nature are revealed by the things He made. Artwork bears the markers of the artist. God’s creation never stops declaring God’s glory. In this first stanza, David moves from the heavens to the sky to the sun, the center of our earthly existence, to show God’s magnificence. The sun gives light and life to the world. And by the sun, we see everything else. But David doesn’t end with nature’s call. He continues: “The law of Yahweh is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of Yahweh are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of Yahweh is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7-8, LSB).

There is a logical progression to this Psalm. To some, it might seem a quite jarring transition from the stars, the sky, and the sun, to the law of Yahweh; but for the Israelite ear, this would have been natural. As the sun gives life and light to the earth, God’s pure and perfect Word restores our soul, making us wise and joyful, with spiritual eyes to see with moral clarity. David uses the following adjectives to describe God’s Word: perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. God’s Word, like the sun, not only lights the way and brings life, but its perfectness, sureness, rightness, pureness, cleanness, and trueness cleanses those of us whom God has called by His Word. No part of us remains in the dark, hidden from the light of Scripture. It is, as the writer to the Hebrews said, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. It cuts, it pierces, it sees all of us―more than we see ourselves (Hebrews 4:12-13).

This work of God’s Word cleans and makes us whole. And David reminds us it has eternal virtue. No amount of gold or honey, no amount of treasure or fine food, can compare to the richness, the beauty, the life-giving Truth of God’s Word. But the righteousness of God not only warms us by the light of its Truth, it also warns. While the world is beautiful and good, the world we made is riddled with hazards. “Moreover, by them Your slave is warned; In keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11, LSB). Nature is good and beautiful, a gift by God to humanity to be stewarded and appreciated, not simply plundered and destroyed so we can live in decadence. Niagara Falls is more than so many tons of water pummeling down to the lake below. It is a majestic reminder of the goodness and beauty and power of God, who has gifted us a world alive. But though nature speaks of God’s glory, after the Fall, our ears don’t listen well.

Too often we are tempted to worship the creation, not the creator. We look up to the heavens and fall before them in worship, not before the One who created them. We must war against the two evils of either bowing before creation and worshiping idols, making abominations, or crushing it underfoot and spurning God’s good gift. Many sins crouch at the door of our hearts, many pitfalls line the ditches of the path of life we walk. Nature alone cannot warn. It speaks of God’s glory and power and divine nature, but only in God’s Word do we receive the command to repent and believe, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. But God’s Word is more than a warning sign along the road. It does warn, it does tell us to slow down or turn around when we’ve strayed and gone down the wrong path. But more than that, David says it also keeps him “from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression” (Psalm 19:13, LSB)‬‬‬‬‬

God’s Word grabs us by the very seat of our being and keeps us in Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That night in my youth, and other nights and days when I’m able to slow down from the busyness of life and simply look up at the sky or look around and notice the beauty of God’s creation, overflows in me a delight of the goodness of creation, and a desire to open God’s Word to better enjoy and love the Creator of such a majestic world. David ends this Psalm with a request, which is one that should always be on our lips, always in our hearts: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Yahweh, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, LSB)

For further reading
Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis`
The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology by O. Palmer Robertson
The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
A Commentary Through the Psalms by John Calvin
Joseph L. Hamrick III

JOSEPH L. HAMRICK III

Joseph L. Hamrick III is a Reformed Baptist Christian who serves as a deacon at Commerce Community Church (C3) in Commerce, TX, where he and his wife, Jesse, live. Joseph holds a BA in Liberal Studies from the Texas A&M University-Commerce and works for the Herald-Banner in Greenville, TX where he writes about the Christian life in his column entitled “Things to Consider”. When he is not at work, he can usually be found with a Bible, a work of Dostoevsky, or some other book in his hands.

November 15, 2023

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