The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1 NIV).
Psalm 19 is a great hymn for public worship composed by David. Its subject is God’s revelation in nature and in the Scriptures. This psalm calls us to consider the excellent nature of God’s disclosure of himself to all people everywhere in nature. Even though it is of such a high quality, it does not exhaust all that the Creator says to those made in his image. God has also given verbal communication to people in his word, the Bible. Only by this higher revelation may we learn about God’s will and his grace. Then having acknowledged God’s revelation, we must evaluate ourselves based on what God has said to us.
True worship is always the worship of God alone. We do not worship the Bible or the creation, but the God who revealed himself in both creation and the Scriptures. So then, this psalm calls us to bow before the God who is able to communicate clearly, consistently, and constantly with mankind. In a world that continually suppresses the knowledge of God, the people of God ought to rejoice that we know the living God, who can speak! We do not walk in darkness, but we have a steady source of light. Be glad, believer in Christ, and sing!
The apostle Paul also discusses the concept of revelation in Romans 1:18-23 and 10:11-21. There we find that general revelation (God’s witness to himself through what has been created) is sufficient to cause all people everywhere to be without excuse, but it is only the Scriptures that can give the knowledge that makes us wise unto salvation (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15).
Here is a brief outline of Psalm Nineteen:
- General revelation (19:1-6)
- Special revelation (19:7-11)
- Response to God’s revelation (19:12-14)
David uses one general example from creation of how God has spoken to mankind. “Look up and around you to the heavens and to the sky. Both tell you the greatness of the living God.” If we would look at ourselves or at all creation on a microscopic level, we would also see God’s majesty. But David tells us to look at the immensity of the heavens and the skies that surround our living space. Look at them and think about the God who is immense enough to make what to our senses seems to stretch out forever.
Notice that God designed the heavens and the skies to communicate. They declare and proclaim. This is not communication by words but by pictures. From our earliest days, our senses are confronted with these living color pictures that say to us, “Stop, look, think. Who made us and who made you?” As the Hebrew text makes plain, this communication always occurs. It intrudes upon us, whether we will have it or not. God speaks through it in a way that it is always in our face.
The person of faith has nothing to fear from true science, for its only materials for thought and investigation have been formed by an all-wise Creator. The “opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20) are a problem, but never true science.
What do the heavens and the skies speak of? They tell us about the glory of God and the work of his hands. “The God who made us is majestic and deserving of honor. Be impressed by the weight of his magnificence.” In our time, few things seem to impress us. Our attitude is “So what? Let me get back to having a good time.” The creation calls out, “No, no, no! Leave your preoccupation with yourself and meditate on the glory of God.” So then in this psalm David invites us to add our praise of the God who speaks to that of creation crying out his glory.
To think about the glory of God means that we must consider his ability to act, to create, to do. Creation says that the hand of God is its maker (Psalm 8:6; 95:5; cf. 1 Chronicles 29:12; Isaiah 59:1). Here we have God speaking through what he has made to tell us that he is able to make all things. And this ought to furnish ample material for praise in public worship. Is it worthwhile to worship? Oh yes, for we serve the One True God who is mighty!
Grace and peace, David