psalm xix – the sky as devotional literature

What have the first six verses to do with the rest? It almost seems like two different Psalms with two different topics as David shifts from the heavens to God’s law. Well, the heavens declare the glory of God, where else could David’s mind drift but to God’s provision. 

Notice that God’s glory permeates the whole earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The sky voicelessly, in light or dark, proclaims the glory of God. Look outside. If it is day, you see by the all-encroaching sun’s rays. Each celestial movement, or rather, each photon’s movement is dictated by the one God of Creation. The very physical world is revelatory of God. Not just those things that entice our eyes, like sunsets and waterfalls, but every nook and cranny of a tree’s bark or stone’s shape. Everything that the heat of the sun touches.

The darkness quietly reveals something else. As your eyes try to adjust to pitch blackness, searching for any speck of light, where else can your mind be brought but to the fact that you are a creature. Your seeking eyes find no purchase, as God has given you this time to sleep. This night remains a part of our universe for your sake, and God proclaims to you in it “rest, I have set aside this time for you, so you might lie for hours in the way I have designed. God has no use for night or day. He is eternal, beyond time. Both states, day and night, testify to our being the subjects of a loving, glorious God.

And, realising this, David looks from the created order to something even clearer: God’s revelation in Scripture. And it is truly clearer. Many look to the sky and see some sort of creator behind it, but we know no nameless creator. The Creator does not come to us most meaningfully in the wordless words of the natural order, but through the God-breathed (2 tim 3:16) words of Scripture. The invisible operation of the Spirit through these Words is our greatest gift, and it was only natural that David’s mind tracked from the natural world to his gracious God.

Go ahead and emulate David in the way he uses the day and night as readily-accessible, physical ‘devotional literature’, things that bring his mind to God. Then let that take you to His Word to receive the word of Christ, the purest revelation of God.

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.
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.


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.

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.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

    be acceptable in your sight,

    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

psalm xix

<— psalm xviii (b) psalm xx —>