Heavens declare, Psalm 19

With the moon’s late rise recently, the stars shine brightly enough to see the bright band of the Milky Way stretched across the night sky like sparkled netting.

I’ve always been moved to praise the Creator when I see the night sky, but ever since I read Yvonne Anderson’s The Story in the Stars and The Gospel in the Starswritten by Joseph A. Seiss in 1882 and providing Anderson with her basic premise, my praise has increased exponentially.

Seiss demonstrated how the major constellations and their associated stars proclaim a gospel message that shines through different times, cultures, and languages. Yvonne jumped into hyperspace with the concept, using it in her Christian speculative fiction series to anchor truth.

These books bring new meaning to the words of Psalm 19, a beloved song that begins with these familiar words:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19:1-4a).

God created the sun, moon, and stars. He set them in the heavens as signs (Gen. 1:14). Day after day and night after night, they clearly testify to God’s creative power and continual order. I’ve always felt that there had to be more to the star story than the Greek names for constellations, many representing pagan gods. Is it too much to think that God put each star in its particular place for a purpose and as part of his great gospel story?

Psalm 19 confirms that the witness of the heavenly bodies goes throughout the whole earth and can be understood in any language.

The next section of Psalm 19 depicts the sun as a resplendent bridegroom and a powerful runner.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,
   which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat (4b-6, ESV).

We can imagine a beaming young man, clothed in richly decorated garments, parting the canvas hangings of a tent to behold his bride.  And coming on the heels of the 2012 Olympics in London, it’s easy to envision an exultant runner crossing the finish line.

In words similar to much of Psalm 119, Psalm 19 switches rather abruptly from the focus on celestial bodies to an ode in praise of God’s word:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
     reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
     making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
     enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
     in keeping them there is great reward (7-11, ESV).

Is that change of focus as sudden as it seems? Although we need God’s written word to know and understand his salvation plan, perhaps this is further confirmation that the heavens declare some aspects of God’s gospel story as well as his glory. Certainly the heavens direct our thoughts and praise to God, which leads us to seek his will from his word.

The psalm then moves into personal petitions:

Who can discern his errors?
     Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression (12-13, ESV).

The psalmist knows that we all fail to recognize our own sins. He asks God to forgive even the sins he doesn’t see as well as the sins hidden from others. He asks God to prevent the presumption that results in besetting sin. He can be declared blameless and innocent only when God views him through the finished work of Christ.

The final verse of Psalm 14 is a personal favorite and one that hovers at the forefront of my mind this week:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (14, ESV).

May this be my prayer and yours throughout this week wherever God leads!

May we view every part of God’s creation as his general revelation to all people in all places, and may we immerse ourselves in his word as his special revelation to his people through all the ages. May we pray for the ability to see our secret sins and repent from them, while asking God to guard our heart and our lips.

The next time you look up at the night sky, praise God for his glory and his gospel!


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