God’s Glory Proclaimed
(H) For the director of the choir, a psalm of David. (1) The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands. (2) Day after day pours forth speech. Night after night reveals knowledge. (3) There is no language, nor are there words. Their voice is inaudible. (4) Their measuring line runs throughout the whole earth and their words to the end of the world. In them he has pitched a tent for the sun (5) which is like a bridegroom bursting forth from his chamber and like a champion running his course with joy. (6) Its rising (is) from one end of the heaven and its circuit to the other end, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The first four verses of Psalm 19 contain four synonymous verbs: “declare,” “proclaim,” “pour forth speech,” and “reveal.” In addition, we find five more nouns that are likewise synonymous: “speech,” “knowledge,” “language,” “words (used twice),” and “voice.” These nine related words, packed so closely together in this first segment of the psalm, could hardly emphasize more strongly that God effectively communicates to us through his creation.
This psalm is justly considered the central Old Testament passage regarding God’s revelation. His self-disclosure falls into two distinct categories. Theologians call the first “general revelation,” that is, what we learn about God by observing nature, particularly in the heavens above us (vss. 1-6). The second category is identified as “special revelation,” the more specific truths that God has made known to us in the inspired words of Scripture (vss. 7-11).
Scholars have long been divided over how to translate the third verse. Some take it to mean that the creation communicates without using actual words (as translated above). Others, like the translators of the NKJV, emphasize the universality of creation’s message: “There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” Whichever way we choose to translate the Hebrew, the author’s point is still the same: God’s glory is so clearly revealed through his creation and so undeniable that no one can offer a reasonable excuse for ignoring it.
God’s existence and glorious power are universally proclaimed:
- by his heavenly handiwork (generally) (1-4a)
- by the sun's rising and setting (specifically) (4b-6)
The heavens above, especially the sun, bear constant witness to the existence of a glorious creator.
Paul, after healing the lame man in Lystra, gave a brief sermon in which he declared to the crowd that had gathered, “God has not left himself without a witness” (Acts 14:17). In Romans he used the following words to express the same truth in more explicit terms: “For since the creation of the world [God’s] 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. 1:20).
The testimony which creation provides regarding God’s existence is universal, unceasing, and undeniable. Wherever we are and wherever we look, we are confronted with convincing evidence of an eternal and powerful creator. Unbelievers may try to ignore it, dismiss it, or explain it away, but that does not make the witness disappear.
The more that scientists discover about the universe, the more beautiful, complex, and intricately designed it proves to be. In the ancient world, people gazed at the sky and marveled at what they saw with the naked eye. In the modern world, we study images and analyze data which powerful telescopes and microscopes provide us and marvel all the more. At both levels of observation, the extremely large and the extremely small, we see God’s hand at work.
As we read the familiar words of the gospel song, How Great Thou Art, we find our hearts stirred to worship as we glorify our great God for his mighty works: “O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder / consider all the worlds thy hands have made, / I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, / thy power throughout the universe displayed. / Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee. / How great thou art! How great thou art!”