Yesterday morning I had the privilege of preaching on Psalm 19 as part of our Whole Story sermon series at Calvary. One reason I did so was to highlight the orienting nature that the Psalms provide to our wandering hearts. Namely, when we find ourselves going astray, the Psalms provide a spiritual guide (the Psalmist) and map (the Psalm) to find our way back to our Refuge and Redeemer.
One of the orienting helps that David provides in Psalm 19 is the created world that surrounds us every day. He describes how it points us to the transcendent God, reminding us he is the GOD who is there, informing us about who he is by what he has made.
I’m often helped by great people of the faith who have gone before us, and written down their own meditations (Psalm 19:14) for our instruction. One such person is St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived from 335-394. One historian calls him “one of the church’s profoundest and most eloquent thinkers and writers…on the Christian life.” I found it quite providential that, while reading from the church fathers on Sunday evening, after having preached on Psalm 19 in the morning, I came across his meditation on Psalm 19:3!
David says, “there is neither speech nor language, where their voice is not heard” (19:3).
How can this declaring and showing be silent? Can there be a voice that doesn’t speak to the ear? Is David contradicting himself with an impossibility, when he speaks of words with no sound, speech without language, proclamation without voice? Or is there not truth’s pure perfection in his teaching, telling us that heaven’s speech, and the word proclaimed by the day, isn’t an expressive voice or lip-language, but a manifestation of God’s power to those who can hear it, even though they hear no voice?…Nothing has arisen from chance or accident. Some fantasise that our whole universe was fashioned by purposeless chance-combinations of primary elements, and that no providence pervades the cosmos. But Scripture teaches that the universe has a Cause behind its systematic organisation. On this Cause, all nature depends; it owes its beginning and foundation to Him towards whom it aspires and moves, in whom it rests. As Paul says, His eternal power and Deity are understood, clearly seen through the world’s creation (Romans 1:19). Thus all creation and, above all, the orderliness of the heavens, declare the Maker’s wisdom in His skilful works.
This, I think, is what David wants to say: visible things testify to the universe’s wise, skilful fashioning, and continuance through the Lord’s power over all. The heavens, showing the Maker’s wisdom, practically shout with a voice; though silent, they declare the Creator’s craftsmanship. We can hear the heavens teaching us: “O mortals, in looking on us and seeing our beauty and vastness, our incessant orbit with its orderly, harmonious movement, acting in one methodical direction, turn your thoughts to our Ruler! Through the beauty you see, envisage the beauty of the unseen Source!”
Yes, and very amen!
So, along with the Psalmist, King David, and the church father, St. Gregory of Nyssa, head outside and take a walk, allowing nature to help orient you and inspire you to "envisage the beauty of the unseen Source."