Thoughts on Psalm 19:3

Psalm Nineteen begins with the very familiar strain:

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

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

Okay. I get that. God’s creation – and particularly here the magnificent sky – is evidence, even testimony – of God’s character. Evidence of his creative power and his beauty and grandeur. When we look at the sky – either day or night – we are confronted with inexpressible beauty and mystery. If we ponder it at all, we have to be impressed and taken in. The skies quite powerfully speak of God’s glory to anyone who takes the time to listen, to tune in.

But what about the next line?

There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.

What in the world does that mean? Does it mean that if creation, i. e. the sky, does not “speak” in a certain place, that place can have no speech or language?

Yesterday I was reading this Psalm again and while I read I had an excellent, high-window view of the western sky. It was mid-morning and the sky was bright and deep and white clouds floated majestically along the horizon and it came to me then that what this psalmist might be saying is simply that the sky is everywhere, over all of the Earth. That is, someone in Hawaii might see amazing waterfalls and  twenty-foot waves that declare the glory of God, but I may never see them and I certainly do not see them now. Conversely, I may see snow-covered mountains that declare God’s glory in much the same way that the native islander may never see.

But everybody sees the sky. The same sky. It’s everywhere above men and women of every speech and language. Day by day and night by night it declares and it utters the glory of God and there is no place – no culture or language – where its speech is not heard.

Such a reading would be, I think, very much in keeping with the theme of the Psalm, which is the universality of God’s rule. It is like the sun, going from east to west, covering the entire world. Nothing is hid from its heat.  It is applicable to everyone in every place and every culture.


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