The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Psalm 19

1 The heavens declare the glory of God.
The expanse shows his handiwork.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech,
and night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice has gone out through all the earth,
their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which is as a bridegroom coming out of his room,
like a strong man rejoicing to run his course.
6 His going forth is from the end of the heavens,
his circuit to its ends;
There is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 Yahweh's law is perfect, restoring the soul.
Yahweh's testimony is sure, making wise the simple.
8 Yahweh's precepts are right, rejoicing the heart.
Yahweh's commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring forever.
Yahweh's ordinances are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and the extract of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is your servant warned.
In keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors?
Forgive me from hidden errors.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins.
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I will be upright.
I will be blameless and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
Yahweh, my rock, and my redeemer.

In this culture, it's not hard to find messages about God. Turn the radio dial or flip through the channels, and you'll likely hear somebody preaching. Even when you drive down the road, it's not unusual to see a billboard or a bumper sticker that proclaims the name of Jesus. But you don't have to live in this culture to hear about God. You don't have to go to church. You don't even need to be within the sound of anyone's voice. All you have to do is go outside. That is the point of the Psalm 19. The first verse says the heavens declare the glory of God. The sky tells us about Him.

Some of us tend to take the sky for granted. We spend a lot of our time indoors, and never give the sky a second thought. That's a shame, because the sky has much to say.

First of all, the heavens tell us that there is a God. The sky is immense. Wherever you go on earth, it is still there. That same sky is just above your head. And when the sun goes down and the stars come out, you can get some idea just how vast it is. There are thousands of stars, visible just to the naked eye. Sometimes, you can see some of the planets in our solar system. They look like bright stars in the sky, but have a tinge of color to them rather than being completely white. And on a clear night, if you can get away from all of the lights in the city, you can see the milky way. It kind of looks like a faint cloud of light. It's actually a galaxy, composed of billions of stars. Our sun is just one of them. And there are billions of galaxies like our milky way galaxy in the universe.

All of this didn't just happen. It didn't just come into being all by itself. There has to be a creator. There has to be a God who was creative enough to think all of that up, and powerful enough to make it all happen.

Not only are the stars innumerable, distances between them are so vast it is almost inconceivable. Light travels at a fixed speed of 671 million miles per hour. It would be an understatement to say that that's very fast. It's instantaneous for all practical purposes here on earth. But when we measure distance to objects in space, we measure it by light years, which is the distance light travels in a year. The closest star (other than the sun) is more than 4 light-years away from earth. Polaris, the north star, is about 430 light-years away. The milky way galaxy is about 100,000 light-years across. Other galaxies that can be seen through powerful magnifiers like the Hubble space telescope can be several billion light-years away. Yet God transcends this vastness. He created it. He is truly infinite, and eternal.

You can't look at a bright starry night, or a colorful sunset without being impressed by it beauty. God knew what He was doing when He created these things. The heavens truly do declare His glory.

They also speak of His changelessness and faithfulness. Verses 4 through 6 speak about the sun making its circuit from one end of the sky to the other. It has done the same thing, day after day, ever since God started the earth rotating on its axis. "I, Yahweh, don't change" (Malachi 3:6). His faithfulness reaches to the skies (Psalm 57:10, 108:4).

But then, Psalm 19 moves on from what the skies tell us about God, to something else that speaks about Him - His law.

God gave His law to Moses. He gave him the ten commandments on two stone tablets inscribed with His own finger (Deuteronomy 9:10). These, and many other things that God has revealed have now been recorded for us in the His word, the Bible. But even those who have not read His word because they don't have access to it or don't recognize what it truly is still know the truth about God's law. God has written the requirements of the law on our hearts (Romans 2:15). He has given each one of us a conscience, and created our minds such that we know right from wrong. Our thoughts will accuse us when we are in the wrong, despite our best attempts to rationalize our behavior.

It would save us a lot of grief if we would just follow God's law from the start. Psalm 19 assures us of that. It tells us His law and statutes restore the soul and make the simple wise (verse 7). They give joy to the heart, and light to the eyes (verse 8). They are clean and altogether righteous (verse 9), more desirable than gold, and sweeter than honey (verse 10).

When we understand how good God's law is, why would we not want to keep it? When we keep it, we are rewarded (verse 11). But God's law is also a warning. His moral statutes are not just suggestions. We are held accountable for our actions. The Lord will judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

When we fail to keep God's law, we are sinning, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This means not only that we are subject to physical death, but spiritual death as well. Spiritual death is separation from God - everlasting destruction, shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Revelation 20:14 calls it the "second death". All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23), so we are all subject to this dire fate.

David, the author of Psalm 19, understood this. He says in verse 12, "Who can discern his errors?" He knows that he has made mistakes, and there are faults in his character. No matter how hard he tries to do what is right, he still fails in a thousand little ways. He knows he has sinned, and falls short of the glory of God.

So he does the only thing that he can do. He cries out to God. He asks for forgiveness. He starts by asking God to forgive his hidden errors, but this doesn't really cover everything. He knows that he is also capable of bigger sins, of willfully disregarding God's commandments and going his own way. So he also prays "Keep your servant from presumptuous sins. Let them not have dominion over me" (verse 13). He is repentant. He agrees with God that sin is wrong. He is sorry for any sins, big or small that he has done in the past, and he is willing (with God's help) to forsake his sin and follow God's law instead in the future. Then, he says, "I will be blameless and innocent of great transgression" (verse 13).

Remember who is speaking here. This is King David, and he was definitely not a blameless man. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then had her husband Uriah killed so he could marry her and cover up that his child whom she was carrying was illegitimate. That sounds like great transgression to me. Yet David said,"I will be blameless, and innocent of great transgression." How is that possible?

Only by the grace of God, and His merit. God would send His son Jesus into this world. He would live a truly blameless and innocent life here on earth. He led a life of infinite value, and His death on the cross paid the penalty for sin; not his own sin (he never sinned) but David's sins, and mine, and yours. Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). The proof that God is satisfied that our sins are paid for is that Christ, who took them on Himself, rose from the dead. So with our sins dealt with, we can be considered righteous. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

So God's salvation from sin is available to all, but to receive it, we must come to Him by faith. Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). We must believe the message in the heavens that there is a God of infinite wisdom and power and glory. We must accept the law He has written in our hearts, that there is right and there is wrong. And like David, we must repent of our sins, agreeing with God that they are wrong and that we should not be doing them, then trust Him to forgive us and make us His own.

But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become God's children, to those who believe in his name (John 1:12). But unless you repent, you will all perish (Luke 13:3,5).