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.


Morning Meditation

Home Economics

Psalm 4

1.    Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness.

Our righteousness is of God – Jehovah Tsidkenu . Our righteousness does not consist in our moral action or understanding, but only in God, who acts for us. Our existential triumphs, if any there be, will come as a result of our trust and rest in God; in our waiting for Him in opposition to all the world.


2.   You have given me relief when I was in distress.

David knows God experientially. He has trusted God in his trouble and extremity and found Him to be faithful and able.


3.    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

David is not praying to an abstract or unknown God. He is praying to the God he knows. The God who has revealed himself to David. The God who has already spoken to David. The God…

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Thoughts on Prayer

This from Tim Keller, a pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City:

Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge.  It is also the main way we experience deep change – the reordering of our loves.  Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us.  Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire.  It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God.  Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.

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Notes From This Morning’s Lesson

No other book is like the Bible.  When we read the Bible, something happens.

Hebrews 4: 12 (KJV)  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

(ESV) 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart.

Deher: Stories tell us how to think and what to do.  They teach us what to love, what to fear, what to hope for, and whom to trust.  Stories reveal to us how we differ from others and who we are the same.  They tell us where we came from , where we stand, and where we are going.  Stories impose order on chaos.  From grand cosmic myths to intimate family tales, it is in stories that we find meaing, purpose and the truths by which we live – or, if we are unlucky, the lies that lead us astray.

* * *

If we don’t understand ourselves as part of a greater story, or tradition, we will have no idea what we are supposed to do with our lives.  In our modern world, we have lost the story that for centuries gave most people in our culture a way to make sense of their lives: the biblical narrative.

How Dante Can Change Your Life


Our Lord understood Himself as a part of a greater story.  He found himself in the scriptures.

Luke 4

 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


We should read the Bible because the story in the Bible is our story.  It is the story in which we, in Christ, are saved and in which we play a part in the redemption of all of creation.

This morning, we are studying one of the very early episodes in this great story: the story of the plagues against Egypt.  The Bible itself tells us why this particular story is of importance to us:

Exodus 10:1

 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”



Moses hears the gospel, is empowered by God to bring freedom to God’s people and Moses obeys.

Did they all live happily ever after?

What does this story tell us about the Christian life?

We can expect resistance.  Dogged, irrational, insane, powerful resistance.  This is the message not only of the story of the plagues, it is a message that pervades the bible, from Genesis to Revelation.  We are to expect resistance of the most dogged, virulent and irrational kind.

We are also, finally, to expect victory.


Rod Dreher Link

As promised, here is the link to Dreher’s most recent posting on the Bruce/Caitlyn business.  Dreher takes this issue seriously and perceives (I think) what it portends for the church.

Our first impulse must always be that of compassion for those individuals who are affected, but there are very deep social and moral issues at stake here and we would do well to listen to Dreher and others who have given serious thought to the matter.

I’ve just finished reading his autobiographical book, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and I come away convinced that Dreher is not only a learned, but a truly converted man.  He deserves to be read.

Why is This Story Like it Is?

Why is Pharaoh so obdurate?  Why does he persist in the insanity of  denying Israel their freedom even in the face of plague upon plague?  It’s a good question, and one that, I think, the text itself suggests.

But, as is so often the case, scripture interprets itself.  Look at Exodus 10, verses one and two:

I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.

Well.  That worked.  The story makes it not only to the hearing of the grandson, but for innumerable generations, down to this very day.

How Long?

When we read the account of the plagues against Egypt, one question that surely comes to our modern minds is this:  How could Pharoah have been so obdurate?

Anyone in his right mind would have buckled after only one or two of the sweeping, ruinous plagues that the Lord visited on Egypt.  Even Pharoah’s servants see that their ruler is being irrational.  “Can you not see that the land is ruined?”

It is a striking thing, this adamance of Pharaoh, and it is surely, surely, one of the points of the whole story.  That is, the story would not be the same story if Pharaoh had simply relented after the water had turned to blood.  There is a point to all this repetition; all this obduracy, all this adamancy.  God has told this story and has preserved it over millenia for us.  Why do we have this very, very strange story.  What is it there to tell us?

What is the point of this story?

Let’s think of Moses as the man who has heard the gospel.  God has acted in his life.  God has spoken to Moses and promised him liberation, freedom and life.  Life in a new land, flowing with milk and honey.  And God has enlisted Moses as a player in this drama of liberation, and God has promised to be with Moses and empower him to act against the status quo and to be successful in the liberation of Israel.

What happens?  Moses hears the gospel, is empowered by God, and he obeys God.


And they all lived happily ever after?

Not at all!


Moses meets resistance.  Boy, does he ever!  Resistance that is obdurate, adamant, irrational.  And so do we!