Psalm 19: God Speaks (1)
David proclaimed this message of God’s existence in what is one of the most treasured psalms and one of the world’s most beautiful poems. C. S. Lewis called this Psalm, “the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.
As I read this beautiful Psalm, I picture David, the shepherd boy tending his sheep, looking into the heavens, and communing with God, and the Father speaking to him in the heavenly bodies. The Holy Spirit moved upon him to record this remarkable message (2 Pe. 1:21).
The spectacular stars witnessed to David the existence of the Creator and His glory. Paul may have had this Psalm in mind when he wrote Romans 1:18-32. Paul said, “….Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19, 20).
The nature of this general revelation revealed to man in the heavens would be great enough, but we also have some profound statements about its nature and extent. Consider verses 2 and 3 where the psalmist says of the heavens that “day after day they pour forth speech and of the skies that ‘night after night they display knowledge.” He is telling us that the skies reveal the glory of God every single night of the week, every week of the year, year after year, and they have done this since Creation. I love the hymn based on Psalm 19 by Joseph Addison:
What though in solemn silence all Move round this dark terrestrial ball? What though no real voice nor sound, Amidst their radiant orbs be found? In reason’s ear they all rejoice, And utter forth a glorious voice; Forever singing, as they shine, The hand that made us is divine.”
When David penned the phrase “it pours forth speech (v. 2) the Hebrew text is much stronger than in the English: literally it is “a gushing spring that copiously pours forth the sweet, refreshing waters of revelation.
It is my opinion that the general revelation, God speaking through nature and revealing Himself as the great Creator, points us to the grace of God displayed in the Bible, beginning at verse 7. This psalm makes a significant distinction between natural and special revelation. In discussing the witness of the skies, David used the name God (El), which is a general name that means strong, powerful one. When he discussed the witness of the Scripture, He referred to God as the Lord—Yahweh or Jehovah—His personal name. While nature, general revelation, reveals there is a God, who is powerful, intelligent and who created everything, the Scriptures reveals who this God is and His incredible love and plan for humanity.
In verses 1-4 David tells us that the heavens speak of God’s glory. The Hebrew word (kabode) means weightiness or heaviness and can be described as honor, splendor, or greatness. Therefore, to give glory to God is to assign Him the weight of honor He is due. God’s glory is the theme of the sermon of the skies and tells us that God manifested in Creation is universal. Everyone throughout the world has been given this magnificent message from God: “there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (vv. 3-4).
David then spoke of the glory of the Sun (vv. 4-6) as the crowning achievement of God’s creation. It is important to understand that David wrote poetically, not scientifically. David compared the sun to a vigorous young man, as a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, and also as a champion athlete rejoicing to run his course. In each of these comparisons he was emphasizing youthful strength, energy, and physical joy. C. S. Lewis was right when he pointed out that the key line is “nothing is hidden from the sun’s heat. This line links the witness of the physical creation to the witness of the Scriptures which begins in the next verse (v. 7).