May 8, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

1 The glory and wisdom of God are evident in the vastness of space. The psalmist calls attention to the word “the heavens” as he begins the first verse and concludes with the synonym “the skies”: “The heavens … the skies” (in MT). This inclusionary form and the chiastic structure cannot be reproduced in the NIV. It is the author’s way of evoking in the reader an immediate response to the words “the heavens” and “the skies” (ABCC′B′A′):

A

the heavens

C′

the work of his hands

B

declare

B′

proclaim

C

the glory of God;

A′

the skies.

These words signify the place where God put the sun, moon, and stars for the purpose of giving light and for distinguishing “day” from “night” (Ge 1:14–19). For the psalmist, “space” is not empty but a revelation of God’s creation of the magnificent heavenly bodies, which are characterized by radiance and regularity. The verbs “declare” and “proclaim” are participial forms, expressive of the continuous revelation of the heavens, and could be translated “keep on declaring …; keep on proclaiming.” The wars and disturbances on earth often camouflage God’s glory, as they divert attention away from the created heavenly bodies, which show more clearly God’s majesty by their regularity and orderliness. He alone is the Creator, because the magnificence of the heavenly bodies confirms that they are all “the work of his hands” (cf. Dt 4:19; 17:3).[1]


19:1, 2 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” And what a story they tell! Think, first of all, what they tell about the immensity of the universe. If we traveled at the speed of light—186,000 miles a second or roughly six trillion miles a year—it would take us ten billion years to reach the farthest point we can see with a telescope. But this would still be far from the outermost limits of space. Now astronomers think that space may have no bounds at all! Our earth is nothing but a tiny speck in a limitless expanse!

Think too of the number of stars and other heavenly bodies. With the naked eye we can see about five thousand stars. With a small telescope we can see about two million. But with the Palomar telescope we can see billions of galaxies, to say nothing of individual stars.

Then think about the distances of the heavenly bodies from the earth and from each other. Someone has pictured the distances as follows: if it cost a penny to ride 1000 miles, a trip to the moon would cost $2.38, a trip to the sun would cost $930, but a trip to the nearest star would cost $260 million.

It takes light from the most remote stars which can be seen with telescopes ten billion years to reach the earth. So when we look out into space, we are really looking backward in time. For example, we do not see the Andromeda galaxy where it is now but where it was two million years ago!

Although the stars may appear to be crowded in the firmament, the distances between them are so great that they have been likened to lonely lightships a million miles apart, floating in an empty sea.

If creation is so great, how much greater is the Creator! Day and night the heavens are telling the greatness of His power and wisdom. The firmament unceasingly proclaims the marvels of His handiwork. (In Bible usage “firmament” refers to the expanse of the heavens.) As Isaac Watts wrote, “Nature with open volume stands to spread her Maker’s praise abroad.”[2]


19:1 — The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.

Go outside on some clear night and just stare up into the sky for several minutes. Soak in the grandeur and majesty and vastness of the starry host—and then think: my God made all this.[3]


19:1 heavens … expanse. Both are crucial elements of the creation in Ge 1 (cf. vv. 1, 8). telling … declaring. Both verbs emphasize the continuity of these respective disclosures. work of His hands. An anthropomorphism illustrating God’s great power (cf. the “work of Your fingers” in Ps 8:3).[4]


19:1The heavens and the sky above (see ESV footnote) recall Genesis 1. The glory of God, i.e., his power, wisdom, and worthiness of honor and worship.

19:1 Revelation of God through nature leaves man with no excuse (Rom. 1:18–23).[5]


19:1the glory of God Yahweh created the heavens (referred to as shamayim in Hebrew) and the sky, expanse, or firmament (raqia’ in Hebrew) to reveal His glory (see Gen 1:1, 6). People in the ancient Near East often worshiped the sun, moon, and stars as gods—something specifically prohibited by the Law (see Deut 4:19; 17:3)—rather than the Creator whose glory they reflect.[6]


19:1 The first few verses form what is called natural revelation (Rm 1:19–20), meaning that the observation of creation calls for an acknowledgment of God’s existence. The wisdom and power and glory of God are displayed in what He has made; it is a continuous revelation in the skies (vv. 1–4) dominated by the sun (vv. 4–6).[7]


19:1 Although the heavens can refer to God’s dwelling place, here it is clarified by expanse, which is what can be seen from the perspective of those who live on the earth. This is the same Hebrew word as the expanse that separated water from water in Gn 1:6–8. Creation is sometimes personified as a witness to God’s work among his people, particularly in the covenant relationship he has with them (Dt 4:26; 30:19; Is 1:2). In this context one specific part of creation is personified as declaring and proclaiming a message. The parallelism between the glory of God and the work of his hands indicates that the objects of creation are demonstrations (or evidence) of God’s glory (50:6; 89:5–8; 97:6; Rm 1:19–20).[8]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 215). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 571–572). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ps 19:1). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 19:1). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 961). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 19:1). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 805). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[8] Warstler, K. R. (2017). Psalms. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 833). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

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