sky, heavens, God

[serialposts]In reading Psalm 19 we can observe that the psalm may be divided into three primary sections: the first six verses refer to creation, the next five refer to the law of the Lord, and the final three verses refer to personal prayer.  All three of these themes (creation, God’s law, and personal prayer) are necessary for the final declaration of trust.

The first six verses refer to creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (19:1; ESV).  This first verse sets the tone for the entire creation section.  There are two aspects of creation that are mentioned.

First, creation declares the glory of God.  Creation is an expression of the majesty and splendor of God.  Creation declares much of who God is.  Creation is beautiful, vivid, and full of life.  So is our Lord – beautiful, vivid, and so full of life that he gives his creation life.

The second aspect of creation that is mentioned concerns the creation of creation, “…the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (19:1; ESV).  Creation is the created work of God’s hand.  God is the Creator.  He made everything we see and said that his creation was good.  Because he is the maker of all creation he also oversees creation.

Because he is the maker of all creation he controls creation.  Nothing would happen if not for the grace of God.  He holds all things together.  So in the first verse we can see that David is declaring that creation declares God’s glory and that creation is God’s creation.

In the next five verses (vv. 2-6), David continues the theme of what takes place in the heavens above us.  These five verses employ poetic imagery and metaphor to continue to describe God’s glory and his control over creation.  In verse two we read that “Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (19:2; ESV).  These metaphors of “pours out speech” and “reveals knowledge” claim that creation “constantly attests God’s power and goodness.”[1]  The heavens give a constant reminder of the revelation of God be it night or day.  However, this speech and this knowledge are not given with words.  It is given by creation itself (see 19:3).

Next, the psalmist, David, employs the sun to describe the all-powerful qualities of God.  Many neighboring nations of Israel had gods that were connected to the planets and stars in the heavens.  Egypt had many gods particularly connected with the sun (i.e. Ra who chased the demons of darkness away with his solar-sun-ship).  Our text fits in well with the religious language of its day in the ancient near east as it personifies the sun and describes its greatness and power.

However, in our text the psalmist suggests that the Creator-God is more powerful than the greatness of the sun.  It is God who has “set a tent for the sun” (19:4; ESV).  The sun does exactly what it was designed to do by the Creator.  In verse five we learn how strong and determined the sun is to run its course.  But what greater strength and determination does the One who created the sun have?  The course of the sun is from one side of heaven to the other.  But how much greater is the sun’s Creator?  We read in verse six that nothing is hidden from the heat of the sun.  You cannot escape the impact of the sun on the earth.  Likewise, you cannot hide from the Creator.  Nothing escapes God.

In a few poetic verses the psalmist has struck down the false teaching of sun-worship, magnified the name of the Lord by describing the greatness of God’s handiwork, and reminded his readers that God is in control of the most clockwork and mighty acts of all creation.

These first six verses of our text describe the greatness of God above his creation.  There is no one greater.  There is nothing that can happen that confuses God or causes God to change.  Whatever a person considers to be the most powerful phenomenon in all of creation is miniscule in comparison with the Creator-God.

It is these first six verses that inform David’s declaration of the imagery of God “my rock.”  This declaration in verse fourteen is informed by an understanding that God is in control.  David can declare that God is “my rock” because he knows that God is the creator and that there is nothing or nobody more consistent, solid, or stronger than God is.  All of creation declares God’s glory and proclaims his handiwork!  It is no wonder why David can proclaim such an overwhelming statement of trust, “my rock.”

The second verse of the magnificent hymn by Thomas O. Chisolm, Great is Thy Faithfulness (1923) brings out this truth.  It declares:

Summer and winter
And springtime and harvest;
Sun, moon, and stars
In their courses above;
Join with all nature
In manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness,
Mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

As you look up at the sky on this day remember that the heavens declare the glory and faithfulness of God our Creator.



[1] R. C. Sproul, Gen. Ed., The Reformation Study Bible, ESV (Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 752.

psalm 19:1-6 [creation]

by Mark Lafler time to read: 5 min
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