The Heavens Declare the Glory of God” Psalms 19:1-6 A Devotional                                             by Jack Kettler

{To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.}
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. (Psalms 19:1-6)

This Psalm has tremendous apologetic value, because all creation testifies of God's glory; For example, “his handywork is seen in creation.” And, “there is no pace in heaven or earth where His voice in not heard.” In the New Testament book of Romans, the apostle Paul refers to Psalm 19 and in particular 19:4. “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18). Fallen man may try and evade this testimony, yet he cannot escape it. Redeemed man, marvels at this powerful all encompassing testimony.

In verses 1-6 of the Psalm, David shows that the creation, the heavens and the earth, proclaim God's existence everywhere. There is nowhere man can go to hide from or escape this testimony. This creation testimony is what is known in theology as “general revelation,” in contrast to “special revelation.” Special revelation is the testimony of Scripture. These two types of revelation are not opposed. They work in harmony. God is the author of both.

To start our devotional exegesis of the Psalm, Matthew Henry's general observations provide an excellent over-view:

19:1-6 The heavens so declare the glory of God, and proclaim his wisdom, power, and goodness, that all ungodly men are left without excuse. They speak themselves to be works of God's hands; for they must have a Creator who is eternal, infinitely wise, powerful, and good. The counter-changing of day and night is a great proof of the power of God, and calls us to observe, that, as in the kingdom of nature, so in that of providence, he forms the light, and creates the darkness, Isa 45:7, and sets the one against the other. The sun in the firmament is an emblem of the Sun of righteousness, the Bridegroom of the church, and the Light of the world, diffusing Divine light and salvation by his gospel to the nations of the earth. He delights to bless his church, which he has espoused to himself; and his course will be unwearied as that of the sun, till the whole earth is filled with his light and salvation. Let us pray for the time when he shall enlighten, cheer, and make fruitful every nation on earth, with the blessed salvation. They have no speech or language, so some read it, and yet their voice is heard. All people may hear these preachers speak in their own tongue the wonderful works of God. Let us give God the glory of all the comfort and benefit we have by the lights of heaven, still looking above and beyond them to the Sun of righteousness.1

Henry concludes his comments with the summary of what the Psalmist has observed when he says:

“Let us give God the glory of all the comfort and benefit we have by the lights of heaven, still looking above and beyond them to the Sun of righteousness.”

Known as the prince of theologians, John Calvin is lucid and logical in his exegesis of Psalm 19:1:

1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork”

1. The heavens declare the glory of God. I have already said, that this psalm consists of two parts, in the first of which David celebrates the glory of God as manifested in his works; and, in the other, exalts and magnifies the knowledge of God which shines forth more clearly in his word. He only makes mention of the heavens; but, under this part of creation, which is the noblest, and the excellency of which is more conspicuous, he doubtless includes by synecdoche the whole fabric of the world. There is certainly nothing so obscure or contemptible, even in the smallest corners of the earth, in which some marks of the power and wisdom of God may not be seen; but as a more distinct image of him is engraven on the heavens, David has particularly selected them for contemplation, that their splendor might lead us to contemplate all parts of the world. When a man, from beholding and contemplating the heavens, has been brought to acknowledge God, he will learn also to reflect upon and to admire his wisdom and power as displayed on the face of the earth, not only in general, but even in the minutest plants. In the first verse, the Psalmist repeats one thing twice, according to his usual manner. He introduces the heavens as witnesses and preachers of the glory of God, attributing to the dumb creature a quality which, strictly speaking, does not belong to it, in order the more severely to upbraid men for their ingratitude, if they should pass over so clear a testimony with unheeding ears. This manner of speaking more powerfully moves and affects us than if he had said, The heavens show or manifest the glory of God. It is indeed a great thing, that in the splendor of the heavens there is presented to our view a lively image of God; but, as the living voice has a greater effect in exciting our attention, or at least teaches us more surely and with greater profit than simple beholding, to which no oral instruction is added, we ought to mark the force of the figure which the Psalmist uses when he says, that the heavens by their preaching declare the glory of God.

The repetition which he makes in the second clause is merely an explanation of the first. David shows how it is that the heavens proclaim to us the glory of God, namely, by openly bearing testimony that they have not been put together by chance, but were wonderfully created by the supreme Architect. When we behold the heavens, we cannot but be elevated, by the contemplation of them, to Him who is their great Creator; and the beautiful arrangement and wonderful variety which distinguish the courses and station of the heavenly bodies, together with the beauty and splendor which are manifest in them, cannot but furnish us with an evident proof of his providence. Scripture, indeed, makes known to us the time and manner of the creation; but the heavens themselves, although God should say nothing on the subject, proclaim loudly and distinctly enough that they have been fashioned by his hands: and this of itself abundantly suffices to bear testimony to men of his glory. As soon as we acknowledge God to be the supreme Architect, who has erected the beauteous fabric of the universe, our minds must necessarily be ravished with wonder at his infinite goodness, wisdom, and power.2

Calvin zooms in on the apologetic power of David's words: “David shows how it is that the heavens proclaim to us the glory of God, namely, by openly bearing testimony that they have not been put together by chance, but were wonderfully created by the supreme Architect.”

The redeemed, will rejoice in response to David's testimony of God's glory in the Psalm.

Commentator Matthew Poole makes the following observations on Psalm 19:1:

The design of this Psalm is to adore and magnify the name of God, for the discovery of his wisdom, and power, and goodness, both by his great and glorious works of creation and providence, and especially by his word and the Holy Scripture; which he prefers before the former.

The heavens declare the glory of God, Psalm 19:1. So do night and day, Psalm 19:2,3, and the sun, Psalm 19:4-6. The perfection, purity, and extent of God’s law; its effects, Psalm 19:7-12. He prayeth against presumptuous sins, Psalm 19:13.

The heavens; these visible heavens, so vast and spacious, richly adorned with stars, so various and admirable in their course or station, so useful and powerful in their influences.

Declare; not properly, but objectively, as the earth, and trees, and stars are said to speak, Job 12:8 38:7 Isaiah 55:12; they demonstrate or make it evident and undeniable to all men of sense or reason; they are as a most legible book, wherein even he that runs may read it.

The glory of God, i.e. his glorious being or existence, his eternal power and Godhead, as it is particularly expressed, Romans 1:20; his infinite wisdom and goodness; all which are so visible in them, that it is ridiculous to deny or doubt of them, as it is esteemed ridiculous to think of far meaner works of art, as a house or a book, &c., that they were made without an artist, or without a hand.

The firmament; or, the expansion, i.e. all this vast space extended from the earth to the highest heavens, with all its goodly furniture, the same thing which he called heavens.

Showeth his handywork; the excellency of the work discovers who was the author of it, that it did not come by chance, nor spring of itself, but was made by the Lord God Almighty.3

Poole sees the apologetic value when he focuses on the objective power of the creation testimony.

Poole says:

“Declare; not properly, but objectively, as the earth, and trees, and stars are said to speak, Job 12:8 38:7 Isaiah 55:12; they demonstrate or make it evident and undeniable to all men of sense or reason; they are as a most legible book, wherein even he that runs may read it.”

Since the apostle referenced Psalm 19 in Romans 10:18, there is no doubt that Paul has Psalm 19 in view when he indites man and declares:

“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:19-22)

Psalm 19:4 has in particular, two parallel passages:

“Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17)

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;” (Job 12:7)

In a similar way, Isaiah reminds us of God's creation testimony:

“Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)

Everywhere man looks, he is confronted with God's testimony. This is our point of contact with fallen man. Man has knowledge of God, yet suppresses it Romans 1:19. We must challenge fallen man to forsake his rejection of God's testimony.

God's attributes of Omniscience and Omnipresence make it impossible for man to hide:

“Where shall I go from your spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there.” (Psalm 139:7-8)

“Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:24)

In conclusion:

Therefore, man is without excuse. God's creation speaks, and His printed Word speaks with authority.

“The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.” (Psalms 14:1)

“Listen! My beloved! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.” (Song of Solomon 2:8)

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7)

The redeemed will surely say: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” ( Psalm 119:103, 105)

Notes:

  1. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Ethereal Library), p. 831.

  2. John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries Volume 1V, Joshua, Psalms, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, Reprinted 1979), pp. 308, 309.

  3. Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Holy Bible, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 29.

There is not a single square inch of the entire cosmos of which Christ the sovereign Lord of all does not say, 'This is mine.'” - Abraham Kuyper

Mr. Kettler is the owner of http://www.Undergroundnotes.com web site where his theological, philosophical and political articles can be read.

Jack Kettler