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Psalm 19

God’s Glory in Creation and the Law

To the leader. A Psalm of David.


The heavens are telling the glory of God;

and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.


Day to day pours forth speech,

and night to night declares knowledge.


There is no speech, nor are there words;

their voice is not heard;


yet their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.


In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,


which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,

and like a strong man runs its course with joy.


Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

and its circuit to the end of them;

and nothing is hid from its heat.


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God's Glory Seen in the Creation.

To the chief musician. A psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork.   2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.   3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.   4 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,   5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.   6 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.

From the things that are seen every day by all the world the psalmist, in these verses, leads us to the consideration of the invisible things of God, whose being appears incontestably evident and whose glory shines transcendently bright in the visible heavens, the structure and beauty of them, and the order and influence of the heavenly bodies. This instance of the divine power serves not only to show the folly of atheists, who see there is a heaven and yet say, "There is no God," who see the effect and yet say, "There is no cause," but to show the folly of idolaters also, and the vanity of their imagination, who, though the heavens declare the glory of God, yet gave that glory to the lights of heaven which those very lights directed them to give to God only, the Father of lights. Now observe here,

1. What that is which the creatures notify to us. They are in many ways useful and serviceable to us, but in nothing so much as in this, that they declare the glory of God, by showing his handy-works, v. 1. They plainly speak themselves to be God's handy-works; for they could not exist from eternity; all succession and motion must have had a beginning; they could not make themselves, that is a contradiction; they could not be produced by a casual hit of atoms, that is an absurdity, fit rather to be bantered than reasoned with: therefore they must have a Creator, who can be no other than an eternal mind, infinitely wise, powerful, and good. Thus it appears they are God's works, the works of his fingers (Ps. viii. 3), and therefore they declare his glory. From the excellency of the work we may easily infer the infinite perfection of its great author. From the brightness of the heavens we may collect that the Creator is light; their vastness of extent bespeaks his immensity;, their height his transcendency and sovereignty, their influence upon this earth his dominion, and providence, and universal beneficence: and all declare his almighty power, by which they were at first made, and continue to this day according to the ordinances that were then settled.

II. What are some of those things which notify this? 1. The heavens and the firmament—the vast expanse of air and ether, and the spheres of the planets and fixed stars. Man has this advantage above the beasts, in the structure of his body, that whereas they are made to look downwards, as their spirits must go, he is made erect, to look upwards, because upwards his spirit must shortly go and his thoughts should now rise. 2. The constant and regular succession of day and night (v. 2): Day unto day, and night unto night, speak the glory of that God who first divided between the light and the darkness, and has, from the beginning to this day, preserved that established order without variation, according to God's covenant with Noah (Gen. viii. 22), that, while the earth remains, day and night shall not cease, to which covenant of providence the covenant of grace is compared for its stability, Jer. xxxiii. 20; xxxi. 35. The counterchanging of day and night, in so exact a method, is a great instance 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. xlv. 7), and sets the one over-against the other. It is likewise an instance of his goodness to man; for he makes the out-goings of the morning and evening to rejoice, Ps. lxv. 8. He not only glorifies himself, but gratifies us, by this constant revolution; for as the light of the morning befriends the business of the day, so the shadows of the evening befriend the repose of the night; every day and every night speak the goodness of God, and, when they have finished their testimony, leave it to the next day, to the next night, to stay the same. 3. The light and influence of the sun do, in a special manner, declare the glory of God; for of all the heavenly bodies that is the most conspicuous in itself and most useful to this lower world, which would be all dungeon, and all desert, without it. It is not an improbable conjecture that David penned this psalm when he had the rising sun in view, and from the brightness of it took occasion to declare the glory of God. Concerning the sun observe here, (1.) The place appointed him. In the heavens God has set a tabernacle for the sun. The heavenly bodies are called hosts of heaven, and therefore are fitly said to dwell in tents, as soldiers in their encampments. The sun is said to have a tabernacle set him, no only because he is in continual motion and never has a fixed residence, but because the mansion he has will, at the end of time, be taken down like a tent, when the heavens shall be rolled together like a scroll and the sun shall be turned to darkness. (2.) The course assigned him. That glorious creature was not made to be idle, but his going forth (at least as it appears to our eye) is from one point of the heavens, and his circuit thence to the opposite point, and thence (to complete his diurnal revolution) to the same point again; and this with such steadiness and constancy that we can certainly foretel the hour and the minute at which the sun will rise at such a place, any day to come. (3.) The brightness wherein he appears. He is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, richly dressed and adorned, as fine as hands can make him, looking pleasantly himself and making all about him pleasant; for the friend of the bridegroom rejoices greatly to hear the bridegroom's voice, John iii. 29. (4.) The cheerfulness wherewith he makes this tour. Though it seems a vast round which he has to walk, and he has not a moment's rest, yet in obedience to the law of this creation, and for the service of man, he not only does it, but does it with a great deal of pleasure and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. With such satisfaction did Christ, the Sun of righteousness, finish the work that was given him to do. (5.) His universal influence on this earth: There is nothing hidden from the heart thereof, no, not metals in the bowels of the earth, which the sun has an influence upon.

III. To whom this declaration is made of the glory of God. It is made to all parts of the world (v. 3, 4): There is no speech nor language (no nation, for the nations were divided after their tongues, Gen. x. 31, 32) where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone through all the earth (the equinoctial line, suppose) and with it their words to the end of the world, proclaiming the eternal power of God of nature, v. 4. The apostle uses this as a reason why the Jews should not be angry with him and others for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, because God had already made himself known to the Gentile world by the works of creation, and left not himself without witness among them (Rom. x. 18), so that they were without excuse if they were idolaters, Rom. i. 20, 21. And those were without blame, who, by preaching the gospel to them, endeavoured to turn them from their idolatry. If God used these means to prevent their apostasy, and they proved ineffectual, the apostles did well to use other means to recover them from it. They have no speech or language (so some read it) and yet their voice is heard. All people may hear these natural immortal preachers speak to them in their own tongue the wonderful works of God.

In singing these verses we must give God the glory of all the comfort and benefit we have by the lights of the heaven, still looking above and beyond them to the Sun of righteousness.