Psalm 19:3
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
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(3) There is no speech.—The literal rendering is Not speech, not words, their voice is not heard. Explaining this is (1) the English version (Bible and Prayer Book) and (if intelligible at all) the LXX. and Vulg.: “There is no speech nor language without their (the heavens’) speech being heard (i.e., understood).” But this gives an inadmissible sense to davar, which does not mean language, but a spoken word. Besides, it was not a likely thought for the psalmist, that the Divine tradition of the heavens, while it travels over the whole earth, would be everywhere intelligible. (2) “It is not speech, it is not words whose voice is inaudible,” i.e., unintelligible, but, on the contrary, it is a manifestation to all the world. But the parallelism is against this. The line “their voice is not heard” is but the rhythmic echo of there is no speech nor word.” (3) We therefore keep close to the literal rendering, There is no speech, there are no (uttered) words, their voice is inaudible; understanding the poet to say, that the manifestation of the Creator’s glory, which he has just imagined the heavens proclaiming, and of which each succeeding day hands on the tale, is not made in audible words. The communication of the sky is eloquent, but mute; its voice is for the heart and emotion, not the ear. So Addison—

“What though in solemn silence all

Move round this dark terrestrial ball,

What though no real voice or sound

Amidst their radiant orbs be found?

In reason’s ear they all rejoice

And utter forth a glorious voice,

For ever singing as they shine

The hand that made us is Divine.”

Psalm 19:3. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard — There are divers nations in the world which have different languages, so that one nation cannot discourse with or be understood by another; but the heavens speak in a language which is universal and intelligible to them all. “No nation or people,” says that wise and learned heathen Tully, “is so barbarous and stupid as not to perceive, when they look up to the heavens, that there is a god; or to imagine, that these things, which have been made with such wonderful art and wisdom, are the effect of blind chance.” In short, the works of creation speak in the common voice of reason, and want no interpreter to explain their meaning; but are to be understood by people of all languages on the face of the earth. There is not a word or speech of theirs, (thus the verse may be translated,) the utterance of which is not heard. Dr. Waterland, however, renders it, They have neither speech nor words; that is, utter no articulate sounds; without these is their voice heard. Thus the margin. Others, again, interpret it thus: They have no speech nor word, nor is any voice, or sound, heard from, or among them; yet their line, &c., as in Psalm 19:4. In one of these senses, the elegant author of the Spectator, in his beautiful ode on these verses, seems to have understood the passage:

What, though in solemn silence all

Move round this dark terrestrial ball?

What, though nor real voice nor sound

Amidst their radiant orbs be found?

In Reason’s ear they all rejoice,

And utter forth a glorious voice,

For ever singing as they shine,


19:1-6 The heavens so declare the glory of God, and proclaim his wisdom, power, and goodness, that all ungodly men are left without excuse. They speak themselves to be works of God's hands; for they must have a Creator who is eternal, infinitely wise, powerful, and good. The counter-changing of day and night is a great proof 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 45:7, and sets the one against the other. The sun in the firmament is an emblem of the Sun of righteousness, the Bridegroom of the church, and the Light of the world, diffusing Divine light and salvation by his gospel to the nations of the earth. He delights to bless his church, which he has espoused to himself; and his course will be unwearied as that of the sun, till the whole earth is filled with his light and salvation. Let us pray for the time when he shall enlighten, cheer, and make fruitful every nation on earth, with the blessed salvation. They have no speech or language, so some read it, and yet their voice is heard. All people may hear these preachers speak in their own tongue the wonderful works of God. Let us give God the glory of all the comfort and benefit we have by the lights of heaven, still looking above and beyond them to the Sun of righteousness.There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard - Margin, Without these their voice is heard. Hebrew, "without their voice heard." The idea in the margin, which is adopted by Prof. Alexander, is, that when the heavens give expression to the majesty and glory of God, it is not by words - by the use of language such as is employed among men. That is, there is a silent but real testimony to the power and glory of their great Author. The same idea is adopted substantially by DeWette. So Rosenmuller renders it, "There is no speech to them, and no words, neither is their voice heard." High as these authorities are, yet it seems to me that the idea conveyed by our common version is probably the correct one. This is the idea in the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate. According to this interpretation the meaning is, "There is no nation, there are no men, whatever may be their language, to whom the heavens do not speak, declaring the greatness and glory of God. The language which they speak is universal; and however various the languages spoken by men, however impossible it may be for them to understand each other, yet all can understand the language of the heavens, proclaiming the perfections of the Great Creator. That is a universal language which does not need to be expressed in the forms of human speech, but which conveys great truths alike to all mankind."

That the passage cannot mean that there is no speech, that there are no words, or that there is no language in the lessons conveyed by the heavens, seems to me to be clear from the fact that alike in the previous verse Psalm 19:2, and in the following verse Psalm 19:4, the psalmist says that they do use speech or language, "Day unto day uttereth speech;" "their words unto the end of the world." The phrase "their voice" refers to the heavens Psalm 19:1. They utter a clear and distinct voice to mankind; that is, they convey to people true and just notions of the greatness of the Creator. The meaning, then, it seems to me, is that the same great lessons about God are conveyed by the heavens, in their glory and their revolutions, to all nations; that these lessons are conveyed to them day by day, and night by night; that however great may be the diversities of Speech among men, these convey lessons in a universal language understood by all mankind; and that thus God is making himself constantly known to all the dwellers on the earth. All people can understand the language of the heavens, though they may not be able to understand the language of each other. Of the truth of this no one can doubt; and its beauty is equal to its truth.

3. Though there is no articulate speech or words, yet without these their voice is heard (compare Margin). Or, understood, as the verb oft signifies, as Genesis 11:7 42:23 2 Kings 18:26 1 Corinthians 14:2; for the hearing of it would have been insignificant without the understanding of it, in which the force of the argument lies. The sense is, There are divers nations in the world, which have several languages, so that one cannot discourse with or be understood by another; but the heavens are such a universal and admirable teacher, that they can speak to all people under them, and be clearly understood by all. No nation, or people, saith that wise and learned heathen, Tully, is so barbarous and sottish, as, when they look up to the heavens, not to perceive that there is a, God, or to imagine that those things are the effect of blind chance, which are made with such wonderful art and wisdom, that it requires extraordinary art to understand their excellent orders and course. But this verse is by divers learned men otherwise translated, not without an elegant gradation, as some observe. They have no speech nor word, nor is any voice or heard in or from them. Then follow the next verse by way of opposition, yet their line, &c. Or thus, They have no speech nor words, (which is supposed to be here said by way of prolepsis, to soften and explain his former expressions of the heavens, declaring and speaking,) yet (or, but without them) their voice is heard or understood.

There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard,.... Not the voice of the day and night; as if the sense was, that there is no people, of any speech or language under the sun, but there is something said every day and night of the weather, what it is, or will be, as the face of the heavens appears morning and evening: but of the heavens and firmament; the meaning of which some take to be this; either that though they have no proper speech nor language, yet there is a voice in them which is heard, declaring the glory of God and his handiworks; and the words may very well be rendered, "they have no speech nor words, without these their voice is heard"; or that there is no people, nation, or language under the heavens; see Daniel 3:4; though they are ever so different one from another, so as not to be able to understand each other; yet the voice of the heavens, uttering and proclaiming the glory of their Maker, is heard and understood by them all: but rather this is to be interpreted of the extent of the Gospel ministry by the apostles; who, according to their commission, went everywhere preaching the word, to men of all nations, of every speech and language; for which they were qualified, by having the gift of various tongues bestowed upon them; so that there were no nations, of ever so barbarous a speech and language, but they were capable of speaking to and of being understood by them; and though they could not understand one another, they all heard the apostles speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God, Acts 2:4. Their voice, in the ministration of the Gospel, was heard in every nation externally, and by many internally: faith came by hearing; and they received the word with gladness and readiness. This gives the Gospel revelation a superiority to the legal one; that was only made to one nation, to the nation of the Jews; the voice of that was not heard elsewhere; but the voice of the Gospel is heard in all nations; this revelation is published throughout the world: and this shows that these words belong to the times of the apostles, after they had received a commission from Christ, to go into, all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; which was done before the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24:14; and which is further confirmed by what follows. There is no speech nor {c} language, where their voice is not heard.

(c) The heavens are a schoolmaster to all nations, no matter how barbarous.

3. (a) The rendering of A.V. means that the message of the heavens reaches all nations of every language alike, and is intelligible to them. But the Heb. words rendered speech and language will not bear this explanation.

(b) The rendering

It is not a speech or words

Whose voice is unintelligible,

is that of most of the ancient versions (LXX, Aq., Symm., Theod., Vulg., Jer.). But it does not satisfy the parallelism, and it is unnatural to refer their voice to ‘speech and words’ rather than to ‘the heavens.’

(c) It is best to render (cp. R.V.)

There is neither speech nor words,

Unheard is their voice.

Their message though real is inarticulate. Thus understood, the verse qualifies Psalm 19:2, and is in close connexion with Psalm 19:4. Theirs is a silent eloquence, yet it reaches from one end of the world to the other. Comp. Addison’s paraphrase:

“What though in solemn silence all

Move round the dark terrestrial ball?

What though nor real voice nor sound

Amid their radiant orbs be found?

In reason’s ear they all rejoice,

And utter forth a glorious voice,

For ever singing, as they shine,

‘The hand that made us is divine’.”

Verse 3. - There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard; rather, there is no speech, there are no words; their voles is not heard; i.e. the speech which they utter is not common speech - it is without sound, without language; no articulate voice is to be heard. (So Ewald, Hup-feld, Perowne, Kay, Hengstenberg, Alexander, and our Revisers.) Psalm 19:3(Heb.: 19:2-4) The heavens, i.e., the superterrestrial spheres, which, so far as human vision is concerned, are lost in infinite space, declare how glorious is God, and indeed אל, as the Almighty; and what His hands have made, i.e., what He has produced with a superior power to which everything is possible, the firmament, i.e., vault of heaven stretched out far and wide and as a transparency above the earth (Graeco-Veneta τάμα equals ἔκταμα, from רקע, root רק, to stretch, τείνειν), distinctly expresses. The sky and firmament are not conceived of as conscious beings which the middle ages, in dependence upon Aristotle (vid., Maimonides, More Nebuchim ii. 5), believed could be proved fro this passage, cf. Nehemiah 9:6; Job 38:7. Moreover, Scripture knows nothing of the "music of the spheres" of the Pythagoreans. What is meant is, as the old expositors correctly say, objectivum vocis non articulatae praeconium. The doxa, which God has conferred upon the creature as the reflection of His own, is reflected back from it, and given back to God as it were in acknowledgment of its origin. The idea of perpetuity, which lies even in the participle, is expanded in Psalm 19:3. The words of this discourse of praise are carried forward in an uninterrupted line of transmission. הבּיע (fr. נבע, Arab. nb‛, root נב, to gush forth, nearly allied to which, however, is also the root בע, to spring up) points to the rich fulness with which, as from an inexhaustible spring, the testimony passes on from one day to the next. The parallel word חוּה is an unpictorial, but poetic, word that is more Aramaic than Hebrew ( equals הגּיד). אמשׁ also belongs to the more elevated style; the γνωστὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ deposited in the creature, although not reflected, is here called דּעת. The poet does not say that the tidings proclaimed by the day, if they gradually die away as the day declines, are taken up by the night, and the tidings of the night by the day; but (since the knowledge proclaimed by the day concerns the visible works of God by day, and that proclaimed by the night, His works by night), that each dawning day continues the speech of that which has declined, and each approaching night takes up the tale of that which has passed away (Psychol. S. 347, tr. p. 408). If Psalm 19:4 were to be rendered "there is no speech and there are no words, their voice is inaudible," i.e., they are silent, speechless witnesses, uttering no sound, but yet speaking aloud (Hengst.), only inwardly audible but yet intelligible everywhere (Then.): then, Psalm 19:5 ought at least to begin with a Waw adversativum, and, moreover, the poet would then needlessly check his fervour, producing a tame thought and one that interrupts the flow of the hymn. To take Psalm 19:4 as a circumstantial clause to Psalm 19:5, and made to precede it, as Ewald does, "without loud speech...their sound has resounded through all the earth" (341, d), is impossible, even apart from the fact of אמר not meaning "Loud speech" and קוּם hardly "their sound." Psalm 19:4 is in the form of an independent sentence, and there is nothing whatever in it to betray any designed subordination to Psalm 19:5. But if it be made independent in the sense "there is no loud, no articulate speech, no audible voice, which proceeds from the heavens," then Psalm 19:5 would form an antithesis to it; and this, in like manner, there is nothing to indicate, and it would at least require that the verb יצא should be placed first. Luther's rendering is better: There is no language nor speech, where their voice is not heard, i.e., as Calvin also renders it, the testimony of the heavens to God is understood by the peoples of every language and tongue. But this ought to be אין לשׁון or אין שׂפה ro אין (Genesis 11:1). Hofmann's rendering is similar, but more untenable: "There is no speech and there are no words, that their cry is not heard, i.e., the language of the heavens goes forth side by side with all other languages; and men may discourse ever so, still the speech or sound of the heavens is heard therewith, it sounds above them all." But the words are not בּלי נשׁמע (after the analogy of Genesis 31:20), or rather בּלי ישּׁמע (as in Job 41:8; Hosea 8:7). בּלי with the part. is a poetical expression for the Alpha privat. (2 Samuel 1:21), consequently כלי נשׁמע is "unheard" or "inaudible," and the opposite of נשׁמע, audible, Jeremiah 31:15. Thus, therefore, the only rendering that remains is that of the lxx., Vitringa, and Hitzig: There is no language and no words, whose voice is unheard, i.e., inaudible. Hupfeld's assertion that this rendering destroys the parallelism is unfounded. The structure of the distich resembles Psalm 139:4. The discourse of the heavens and the firmament, of the day (of the sky by day) and of the night (of the sky by night), is not a discourse uttered in a corner, it is a discourse in speech that is everywhere audible, and in words that are understood by all, a φανερόν, Romans 1:19.
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