Psalm 19:1
There is enough in this psalm for twenty discourses. But in this department of the 'Pulpit Commentary' it is not our province to dwell on specific texts, however attractive, but to indicate how by a homiletic exposition of the psalm as a whole, it may be brought home to us for everyday life in the continuous unfolding of the Scripture. At the same time, the two divisions of the psalm are so entirely distinct that they call for separate treatment, as they open up to the preacher entirely different branches of thought and instruction. There is no reason to question the Davidic authorship of the psalm, but it is so couched that from its contents there is nothing by which we can infer either its authorship or date; and it so speaks to man as man, that it is of equal value by whomsoever or whensoever it was penned. We have in its first six verses a rehearsal of the voices of God in the firmament above. And we gather from the forms of expression that the writer was accustomed to speak of natural phenomena in the language of his day. In his view the firmament of heaven spread out as a hemisphere above the earth, like a splendid and pellucid sapphire, in which the stars were supposed to be fixed, and over which the Hebrews believed there was a heavenly ocean. The Bible was not meant to teach science, but to teach God. Science has to do with the matter, order, and laws of the creation. In religion we have to do with the great Author of all. And while we find the writer far enough away from our present conceptions of what the heavens are, we find he is one to whom God had spoken as Jehovah, the great I AM - and who had been taught God's Law to man as well as God's utterances in nature. And as God's voices to us have become clearer than they were in the psalmist's time, by his revelation in Christ Jesus, so the glory of his works has become amazingly clearer through the discoveries man has made therein; and he will fall very far short of a suitable setting forth of the truths of this first half of the psalm, who does not utilize the recent discoveries of science as a pedestal on which to set, in clearer and fuller ways, Jehovah's glory! The expositor is bound to show how gloriously science helps religion, in furnishing him with new material for setting forth the greatness of God l An unfolding of the verses before us will lead us along several lines of thought, with which we propose to deal cumulatively.

I. THERE ARE NATURAL OBJECTS AND FACTS HERE SPECIFIED. The heavens. The firmament. The sun. The orderly succession of day and night. In regard to each of these, science helps religion. And grand as was the scene in olden time to the natural eye, and with all the imperfections of ancient knowledge, the grandeur is unspeakably vaster now, owing to discoveries which have since been and are still being made (The expositor of this psalm needs to read up to date in astronomical researches.)

II. AMONG THEM THERE IS INCESSANT ACTIVITY. "The heavens declare," etc. Their activity is not conscious on their part, but it is nevertheless real. Light is ever acting on the vegetable world, and helps to open the petals of the flower, to give blossom its colour, and fruit its sweetness. Thus there is a reciprocal relation established between the sunbeam and the plant. So also is there between the stars above us and the mind of man. And though they utter not a word (ver. 3, Hebrew), they are sounding forth a message to the soul of man. "Their line is gone out," etc. (ver. 4). The word "line" is one of much interest. It meant, first, any cord or string; then a string stretched out so as to emit a musical sound; then the sound emitted by the string; then a full musical chord.

"For ever singing, as they shine,
The hand that made us is Divine!'"

III. THESE ACTIVITIES ARE WONDROUSLY VARIED. The four verbs used here are all of them exceedingly expressive. The heavens are falling the glory of God, recounting it to us as in the pages of a book; the firmament is showing his handiwork, setting it before our eyes as in a picture; day unto day welleth forth speech, pouring it out as from a fountain; night unto night breatheth out knowledge, breathing it out gently so that the attentive listener may hear. "During the French Revolution, it was said to a peasant, ' I will have all your steeples pulled down, that you may no longer have any object by which you may be reminded of your old superstitions.' 'But,' replied the peasant, 'you cannot help leaving us the stars.'"

IV. WITH ALL THIS VARIETY OF EXPRESSION, THEY TELL OF A CREATING POWER. "The glory of God;" "The firmament showeth his handiwork." When this is said, there are two points involved - one implied, the other expressed. It is implied that man has the faculty of understanding these varied forms of expression. Surely a perceived object implies a perceiving subject, and a message addressed implies the existence of those by whom it can be understood. The question of the origin of things will, must, come up; quite irrespectively of method, there will be the question of cause. The old design argument is valid as ever, though it may need to be thrown into a different form. That which it requires mind to understand, must a fortiori require the equivalent of mind to bring into being. From nature's framework, power, wisdom, benevolent adaptation, order, etc., are manifest. Even the objection raised from the existence of wasted seeds, abortive organs, rudimentary and undeveloped possibilities, comes to nought when it is remembered that no atom of matter is wasted, but, if unused at one moment, is worked up again in other collocations. The advance of the most cultured thought at the present time is remarkable. The old atheism is now out of date; and so, intellectually, is even the old agnosticism. It is behind the times. The latest developments of Darwinism honour God. But while on the ground of knowledge and culture, intellect must admit the existence of "a Power above us," it is only the lowly, devout, and loyal spirit that will see God in all things, and enjoy all things in God.

V. GOD'S MESSAGE FROM THE HEAVENS IS RESPONDED TO IN HOLY SONG. Whoso forgets the title of the psalm will miss much of its beauty and glory. It is meant for the choirmaster. It is to be set to music, and uttered in song. Poetry, music, song, are the audible response of man to the inaudible voices of the day and of the night. Through the stars, God speaks to man without words; with his voice man speaks to God. Thus the universe is one grand antiphony. God's music delighting man; man's music adoring God. The heavens speak to us of God; we respond to the God of heaven. Note: Although we do not wish here to anticipate unduly the teaching of the second half of this psalm, yet we may be permitted to remark that, glorious as the music of the heavens is to those who have ears to hear, yet there is another message from the eternal throne, which alone tells us the thoughts God has towards us, and which, when understood and received, does touch our hearts and move our tongues to louder, sweeter, tenderer song than ever nature's glory could inspire. - C.







The heavens declare the glory of God.
Nature exists not for a merely natural, but for a moral end; not for what it is, but for what it says or declares.

I. WHAT NATURE TELLS US TO THINK OF GOD.

1. Nature reveals God. The race as a whole have heard the declaration of His eternal power and Godhead. In proportion as they have heard, adoring, they have risen in the scale of manhood.

2. Nature declares the knowledge and power of God. The marks of mathematical and geometric law in nature are conspicuous. The more we explore the different departments of nature, the more we find it pervaded by strict arithmetical and dynamic laws. We meet thought everywhere. The race of man, as a whole, has heard, and to some extent understood, the testimony of nature to infinite thought and power.

3. Nature declares that God is just and good. This has been called in question. Nature says that every natural law, if obeyed, tends to happiness. Nature's laws are benevolent, Men have not fully appreciated this, for one reason, because they have so commonly broken those laws and have suffered. But does nature in any wise speak of the Divine mercy? This question has often been wrongly answered. Listen attentively, and you will hear nature say that God is merciful. It is a striking fact that very many, if not all, physical penalties can be mitigated, if not relieved, by some counter law, some curious side-process or arrangement. God has so made nature as practically to encourage self-sacrifice for each other. Whenever men take pains for each other, to help each other over their faults and their consequences, there is an illustration, however faint, of the Divine principle of mercy. Mercy is the policy of the Divine government; it is the character of God Himself.

II. WHAT GOD THINKS OF NATURE.

1. God looks upon nature as a basis of language. Let the heavenly orbs be for signs. Signs are vehicles of ideas. Let them say something; let them be words. The universe is God's telephone, God's grand signal service system by which He can flash messages from the heights above to the deepest valleys below. The material system is God's great instrument of conversation.

2. God tells us what to think of this eloquent material system. It is God's most glorious schoolroom by which to teach us reality, — above all, to teach us self-government, and painstaking for one another. Why are we in such a world? Because we needed to be. We need what we get here. We need that knowledge of ourselves which nature can give. We need to be where we are. We need just the restraints and the liberties, the trials and the triumphs, the joys and the sorrows, the smiles and the tears, the bliss and the anguish of this strange life. And in all, and through all, we need to know Him who placed us here, and is revealing Himself to us in a thousand ways.

(Charles Beecher.)

The whole of revelation reposes on this broad platform: how God and nature stand to one another. Now, there are two opposite extremes into which our conceptions on this point may fall. We may immerse God in nature; or we may isolate nature from God.

1. We immerse God in nature if we treat nature as itself possessed of properties which are strictly personal; as when, for example, we accustom ourselves to think of it as originating its own processes, as intending its own results, or as conscious of its own plan. Men talk of nature as though it were aiming at certain ends, striving to accomplish them, adapting itself to new conditions, overcoming fresh obstacles, and so forth. The corrective lies in the scriptural idea of creation as an act of will of One who is outside of material being. Scripture is strictly philosophical when it traces all phenomena, all change, ultimately to a will. But will is an attribute of personality; and the Person whose will determines that nature should be what it is must be a Person not Himself included in the nature which He wills shall be. He is God. Again —

2. We may unduly isolate nature as God's workmanship from God the worker. We do this, e.g., when we conceive of the universe as teaching us nothing of God, being only a whirl of material change without spiritual meaning; or when we represent it as a machine which, being somehow endued with a given stock of force, must go on so long as the force lasts, like a watch that has been once wound up. To separate the work from the worker after this sheer and mechanical fashion may do some harm to science, and it leaves hardly any foothold for religion. Again, the spiritual conception of creation will furnish the corrective. According to it, God is personally separate from and above nature, yet for all that He has put into His handiwork His own thoughts. We may fairly say that both sides of the idea lie in embryo in the solitary phrase, "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made." For the word of any person serves two functions: it is the organ of command, conveying an act of will; it is also the organ of expression, revealing the speaker's nature. Stupendous conception of primary force! The force of personal will, resident in the Supernatural Being, in the one sole unmade, unborn Person, who is that He is; is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty. The sole cause; sole origin of being; sole efficient factor in the beginning; is this act of volition or self-determination of an Infinite Personal Will. "He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast." It accords with experience; it satisfies philosophy; not less does it meet the religious necessities of the spirit; for if I am to worship at all, where shall I find a nobler object of worship than the Person who will give being to all beings but Himself? On the other hand, the word of a speaker while it utters his will must no less reflect, consciously or unconsciously, his inner self. It seems to me that in this Biblical conception of nature as the revelation of its Maker we find the common root whence have grown two very dissimilar growths of the ancient and of the modern world. The great fact of the whole ancient world was this, that its multiform religions started from a nature basis. The sun and stars, the reproductive forces of animal and vegetable life, the decay and revival of the year, the wondrous cycle, in short, of cosmic change through which nature accomplishes herself, was the common fact which very early riveted the attention of primitive man, till out of it there grew up in many lands, under many shapes, a system of religious observance everywhere the same in principle. Being whose thoughts these objects revealed, men began to adore the symbol, and to forget the Invisible Person behind it. Easy and rapid was the downward plane to idolatry and polytheism and gross fetish worship. Yet what is worth noting is, that such nature religions would have been impossible had not nature really spoken to unsophisticated men a Divine message, had it not been charged to their souls from the first with Divine ideas. We are far enough removed now from that early stage of human experience. The world is grown aged, and the work of its age is not to worship nature, but to master it. Yet this modern science which leads to the utilisation of physical forces for human needs is not less an outgrowth from the same root. For all our power over nature reposes immediately on our correct reading of natural laws. Observation of naked facts will never put into man's hand the sceptre of the physical world, Naked facts must lead on to the discovery of law; and law is the Divine idea governing the facts; and when man has discovered and mastered that Divine idea, then he becomes in his degree a divinity on earth, a lord over matter, a maker and disposer in his turn. What does this mean but that we come to read behind phenomena the thought and will of One whom, because He is a personal Spirit as we are, we can comprehend? We reach the secret principles on which He makes, not made merely but is ever making, the world; and when we thus know His mind, or on what lines His will moves, we enter upon a share of His dominion; we fall in with His working plan; we, too, govern by imitating Him. I have cited both ancient nature worship and modern nature study as alike dependent for their possibility upon the same truth of Scripture; this, namely, that nature, being made by God's Word, speaks to us His thoughts. But if I desired conclusive evidence how insufficient is this revelation of itself to guide men to friendly communion with God, where could I find any more conclusive than is furnished by the history both of ancient nature religions and of modern science! Of the one the tendency was more and more to immerse God in nature, till He was wholly lost in His own handiwork. Of the latter — modern science — the tendency very decidedly is to isolate nature from God, as a wholly separate existence whose relationship to its Author (if any) is at least unknown. This moral revelation, which began with Abraham and culminated in Jesus Christ, admits of being both compared and contrasted with the older nature revelation.

1. The later revelation starts from and builds upon the earlier one. It is not so often recollected as it should be, but once seen it cannot be doubted that underneath every other relationship which the God of the Bible claims to sustain to us as Lawgiver, Father, Redeemer, Promiser, Saviour there lies this broad, original relationship of all — that He is our Creator. That tie to Him, which we share with even the dumb cattle and the dead earth, bears up and justifies all the rest. Man is a portion of the created universe, and its Maker must be his Lord and King.

2. It must be clear that such a revelation as we actually possess in the Bible is only possible if God be (as the Bible teaches) at once above nature, and yet present, self-revealed in nature. First of all, we are ourselves part of the world, and if we are to receive communications that transcend what the world itself can tell us, then He who gives them must stand outside of and above the world. The supernatural is impossible if God be inseparable from nature or be its slave. On the other hand, the actual revelation recorded in the Bible employed nature as its organ. In the revelation of new truth God is constantly found availing Himself of the old creation. Dreams, and visions, and voices to the ear, the thundercloud on Sinai, the cleft sea, dearth and the plague, the vicissitudes of war, conquest, and revolt were all turned into vehicles for teaching saving lessons to mankind. The whole of Bible teaching, too, attaches itself to the parables of nature. Above all, His final revelation of Himself is in the life of a Man, a true natural life resting on the physical basis of a true body, "born of a woman"; so that the highest of all revelations is in appearance the most human, the least supernatural.

3. The voice of the new revelation agrees with the voice of the old. To develop the congruousness of the Divine image in nature with the Divine image in Scripture would take too long; I only suggest it to you. The absolute unity of plan which strict research is daily proving more and more — a unity now known to reach as far as the planets in their spheres — attests that the Creator is one. And Scripture proceeds on the unity of God. (b) Throughout all nature we find a will at work whose method is to bind itself by orderly method and fixed law. This reveals a mind in God intolerant of what is arbitrary, eccentric, or illegal. All is variety, yet all is system. Now, the revelation of the Divine will in Scripture is likewise the revelation of a law, and its chief end is the reduction of moral anarchy to moral order. (c) Again, we are daily learning how patiently, and through what long, slow, even laborious processes God has been pleased to build up His physical universe, as though a thousand years were to Him of no more account than a single day, so long as the results are wrought by growth and evolution, rather than by sudden shocks or interventions. This is God's way in nature, and it has been His way in grace. (d) Once more, the God of nature avenges the transgression of every physical law by a sentient creature. Scripture discovers precisely the same features in the moral and spiritual rule of God. So far the two revelations walk abreast. Thanks be to God, the Gospel continues its parable where the voice of nature falters and grows mute. Of law, of transgression, of penalty and reward, of life and death, nature has no less to say than the Bible has. But of another law higher than that of penalty, of grace which transcends judgment, of the spiritual law of self-sacrifice, of redemption of life by life, and giving up of the just for the unjust, and forgiveness of sin and regeneration of the lapsed, — the physical universe is wholly, or all but wholly, silent.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

Providence is the best schoolmaster. This Psalm leads us, and is designed to lead us, to a contemplation of nature. Not the faintest apprehension appears, lest contradictions may be discovered between the world book and the word book. The sympathy with nature is complete, and not the less so because the poet has been enabled to penetrate the closest of her secrets. "The wisest of men are those who with pious eagerness trace the goings-forth of Jehovah as well in creation as in grace." Just that is the wisdom here. The study is a reverent study. God is seen everywhere. The lines are saturated with theology. There are, however, other voices of praise. While, doubtless, the heavens are the work. of God's fingers and declare His glory, His Word is yet "more to be desired." Fascinated as David has been with the contemplation of the Creator's works, he does not make the blunder of despising the written revelation. Some of the grounds for a conclusion which so exalts the Word above the works.

1. A comparison of the contents of the two revelations. From nature we may learn the existence of an infinite personal God. But is this mighty Author of the universe a friend? There throbs the tremendous interrogation concerning which the heavens make to the eager shepherd boy no answer. With regard to the problems which most deeply affect our welfare, nature only baffles us. The Gospel far surpasses all that nature can be made to teach.

2. Not only in its contents, but in the proclamation of them, is the Word magnified. Consider the instrumentalities selected for the utterance of the Gospel. Angels, the Son of God.

3. Consider by what enforcement of his Word God is magnified. In nature there is no provision for effectively reaching the conscience and moving the will. To apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ, the Spirit has come.

4. Observe the stupendous effects produced, by God's Word. "Enlightening the eyes." "rejoicing the heart, making wise the simple," "converting the soul," here are effects chiefly wrought by God's Word.

(Hanford A. Edson, D. D.)

Nature is the volume in which the Godhead of the Creator is plainly discoverable. Scripture is the volume in which all may read the Divine will concerning men.

I. NATURE'S TESTIMONY TO THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. Nature is here pictured as comprising the "heavens" and the "firmament," together with alternating days and nights — these sublime works witnessing for God. David attempts to teach no lesson in astronomy. He imagines an observant and thoughtful man opening his eyes upward, and affirms that what this man beholds proves the presence and power of God. These heavens are forever telling or revealing the presence, power, majesty, supremacy of the Infinite. What he means to say is, that the realm of nature, beautiful in outline, vast in proportions, grand in order and methods of movement, illustrates glorious qualities of being and of character, and that in this creation the good of man and of all sentient beings has been so manifestly sought and secured that God therein is plainly revealed as ever present in power and in proclamation of Himself. Here, then, is not astronomy, but revelation. A scene in which he affirms that the humblest observer may be convinced of God's existence and glory. These things could not have originated in what has been called a "casual hit of atoms," they must have had a Creator, and the Creator can be no other than an infinite and eternal God.

II. THE REVELATION OF GOD IN SCRIPTURE. Looking first at the stellar world, and viewing the splendour of a solar day, David confesses his vision of God is incomplete, and so he affirms the Infinite to come nearer to man than in the stars, and making Himself better known in "the law," "the testimony," "the statutes," "the Commandments," and in the providences which play around him. The term "law" may refer to the "preceptive portions of Scripture"; "testimonies" may mean doctrines; "statutes," ordinances and forms of worship; "commandments" are directions to duty; "fear" indicates anxiety to please God; and "judgments" are God's record or declaration of the results of unforgiven sin. But all these terms may be gathered up as referring to the body of Scripture, revelations which have been made either by voice, or vision, or inspiration in any form. The writer's purpose was to indicate the excellent properties and purposes of Scripture, including precept, promise, and perfect rules of life. Calling this revelation the "statutes of God," the idea evidently is of something binding on universal man. Calling it "the fear of the Lord" seems to refer to that filial affection which reigns in a human heart, making man ashamed of sin, and becoming for him a cleansing power. "Judgments of the Lord" is a comprehensive phrase, summing up the substance and object of Scripture.

III. THE LAW, TESTIMONY, STATUTES, COMMANDMENTS, FEAR, AND JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD TESTED. Put them to the test of personal experience. This shall prove whether or no the claim of the Psalmist has warrant in the lives of men. There never was a man who received the law of God into his heart and obeyed it who did not become a "new man," enriched thereby beyond all measurement or estimate.

(Justin E. Twitchell.)

The immediate outlook upon nature is independent of scientific elaboration. It is unalterable by intellectual mutations and advances; it rests on those permanent relations which hold between the soul of man within and the world without. But the whole stress of the Psalm is laid on that aspect of the natural world which it is the work of science to emphasise and to extricate. What the Psalmist sees is the manifestation of law, of regularity, of reason. There is about it all, as the mighty drama discloses itself, the calmness, the majesty, of rational knowledge. The awful silence in which the tremendous scene proceeds is more eloquent than words. Dumb in the vault, yet filled with voices that toll in our ears, voices that cry without a language, and assure us of that eternal consciousness which possesses the entire round of the heavens, whose rule and line goeth out throughout all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. Universal law acting in silence, with absolute security of rhythm. The mystic eloquence of law. That is the vision which overawes the Psalmist; and is not that the very essence of our scientific presentation of nature? Law acting in silence, that is nature as science discloses it. Silent as it may be, this perfect law, this undeviating order, this calm precision, this infinite regularity of succession, this steady certainty of movement, this unbroken universality, these disciplined forces, this rhythmic harmony, this balance, this precaution, this response of day to night, and night to night, that is intelligence, that is reason, that is consciousness, that is speech! No one can face it in its wholeness, part answering to part, and each to all, without becoming aware of its mystic eloquence. It all speaks, speaks as it works, speaks without a language, speaks without a sound. The Psalmist has but to lift his eyes, and then above it, allied to it, a corresponding world opens out, — a world, too, of law, of certainty, of regularity, of order, no less than the world of nature. Here, too, all is sane, rational, secure, quiet, and sure, as the silent stars in the night. This higher order of life moves along the course set before it, and its laws never flag or fail; no chance confuses it, and no unruly accident disturbs it. This world is the world of consciousness, the world of the moral law, the world of the religious spirit, the world of the fear of the Lord. Laws, statutes, testimonies, commandments, — no physical world could be based on grounds more fixed and uniform and sure. Everywhere precision, everywhere unalterable rigour — that is what delights him. Error, wrong, sin — these may be on his own side, but this does not shake the absolute authority of this reign of law without him. Only, it makes him tremble, lest even unwittingly he may have introduced any quiver of disturbance into this fabric of exquisite and harmonious order. Who can tell how oft he offendeth? "Oh, cleanse Thou me from secret faults." Can we recover at all for ourselves this mental temper of the Psalmist? This world of which he is speaking is what we name spiritual, religious, supernatural, and as soon as we have touched such names as these we recall something wholly unlike nature, wholly opposed to scientific law and the necessities of reason. Yet veracity, regularity, universality, these are the very notes of the Divine action in both spheres, and in both, therefore, there is the same ground for reason to work upon. Nature will enable us to understand the supernatural. Our faith in Christ Jesus lays large and unfaltering trust in the veracity of human faculties, in the solidity of knowledge, in the reality of an instructed and intelligent experience. Base your belief in Jesus on the convictions that form the ground of your confidence in the stability and reality of life.

(Canon Scott Holland.)

"Two things," said Kant, "fill the soul with awe and wonder: the starry heaven above, and the moral law within." How many of us have felt this amazement without expressing it! Approach man from a material point of view, and he is utterly insignificant; but view him from a spiritual point of view, and how wonderful is he! That strange faculty within him which witnesses to a law above himself, which speaks to him of the right even when he is yielding to the wrong, which enables him to hold communion with infinite perfection, which gives meaning to such words as "trust," "duty," "obedience," "religion," that faculty which perpetuates in him the image of his Maker; whence did it come? "Yes," said Pascal, "man is a worm, but then he is a worm that thinks." This is exactly the mystery which filled a mind so powerful as that of Kant. To see no mystery in man and his spiritual nature is a sure mark of a shallow and second-rate mind. What is the thought which the contemplation of the heavenly bodies presents to us most prominently? Is it not order or "law"? But how about the spiritual world? Are there laws for mind as well as for body? Is there not an order in moral things which cannot be violated with impunity? The Kingdom of Heaven is a reign of law too. One order alike for the material and the moral. The law of the material world we reach through observation and generalisation; the law of the soul through God's revelations of Himself to man's spiritual nature, but both are alike of God, and not two laws but one. How pure, elevating, and ennobling was the writer's conception of true religion.

(J. A. Jacob, M. A.)

Monday Club Sermons.
Every varying mood of nature is an index finger to the power and glory of the Creator. His works lie open beside His Word, — the one a volume of illustrations, the other a book of inspired principles. In the 19th Psalm these double volumes of revelation are bound together. There is both a world book and a word book in the Psalmist's thought. Both are bearing eternal witness to the Creator.

I. THE WITNESS OF THE HEAVENS. In the clear dry air of the East the heavens shine with a strange brilliancy. To the reverent soul of David, the stars in their courses and the moon in her phases were nightly lessons of wonder and of God. To the Psalmist's eye the whole firmament was written over, and the whole universe was resonant to his ear with the name of God. And to the eyes of this devout shepherd, this witness of creation to its Creator was continuous. And yet this witness of the heavens is silent. It is their silence which puts such terrible emphasis upon the testimony of the heavens; for silence is the great law of the universe. This witness is also universal in its reach and influence. The stars preach a gospel of Divine law and power, before which worshippers of all races and generations have kneeled in reverence and awe. But man, made in the likeness of God, is not measured by physical, but by moral standards. The moral law written upon conscience and soul has brought man into fellowship with the Infinite, and there follows that sharp transition in thought which cuts this Psalm like the keen stroke of a knife when David remembers the glory of God's law. Grander than that of the heavens is —

II. THE WITNESS OF THE MORAL LAW. In this sudden rebound from the glory of the sun to the greater glory of the truth the Psalmist seems to chide himself for having forgotten the greater in the less. For what the sun is in the natural world, bringing light and inspiring growth, the law of God is in the spiritual, revealing moral darkness and quickening the life of souls. Climbing up adjectives of admiring descriptions, David unfolds the nature of the Word of Jehovah. It is "perfect," with a completeness which fits all needs and encompasses all souls. It is "sure," — an eternal verity to which men may anchor and never drift. It is "right," with an absolute rectitude and justice. This Divine law not only reveals the glory of Jehovah, but also —

III. IT REVEALS THE HEART OF MAN. Without the revelation of the mirror man is a stranger to his own face; without the revelation of God's law we were strangers to the guilt of sin. For the law lays a man bare to himself. Gather up the lesson of the Psalm —

1. That there is no conflict between God's works and God's Word. There may be conflict between the flippant guesses of men and the "Thus saith the Lord" in the Book. But the world book and the word book are one and the same truth.

2. The Psalm reveals the vastness and variety of the witnesses which God has put about us. The heathen of all lands have deified the forces of nature and the planets of the sky, and worshipped. Such witness is ours, but supplemented by the written Word, the enlightened conscience, the civilised state, and the Christian Church.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

Modern poets are never tired of dwelling on the beauties of nature. The Hebrew poet perceived these just as keenly, but he never set them forth for their own sake. He considered them only as they bear on our moral and spiritual relations with God, or as they illustrate the being and glory of the Most High. So it is here, The first line sets forth the continuous action of the transparent vault which arches over the earth. Its order and beauty and splendour are not the work of chance or the product of blind unconscious forces, but bear willing witness to the perfections of the one Supreme Creator. He made them, and they are forever telling the story of His unsearchable riches. There is no pause, no interruption in the testimony. Day after day, night after night, the unbroken succession goes on. It is poured out as from a copious, gushing fountain. The sentiment is as true as it is poetical. In every age and land the starry heavens have proclaimed to the thoughtful observer: "It is He that hath made us." The fact that this is done without the use of articulate language, so far from weakening the testimony makes it stronger. A modern critic coolly expunges this couplet on the ground that it is prosaic and that it directly contradicts the preceding verse, whereas it is a fine statement of the fact that words are not literally used; and there is no more contradiction in it than in the common proverb, "Actions speak louder than words." The heavens "have a voice, but it is one that speaks not to the ear but to the devout and understanding heart," as Addison has well expressed it in the well-known stanzas, according to which the radiant orbs, though they move in solemn silence, still in reason's ear rejoice. In the next couplet the poet proceeds further. Not only is the testimony of the heavens distinct and clear and unbroken, but it is also universal. Their "line" means their measuring line, for this is the established meaning of the word, and there is neither need nor justification for changing the text. The province of these witnesses for God is co-extensive with the earth. Everywhere the heavens compass the globe, and "everywhere they preach the same Divine sermon." In the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 10:18) the Apostle employs these words to express the wide diffusion of the Gospel among the Gentiles, and its freedom from all national or ecclesiastical restrictions. As Hengstenberg well says, "The universal revelation of God in nature was a providential prediction of the universal proclamation of the Gospel." The Apostle says their "sound" instead of their "line," because he followed the Septuagint version. The sense is, of course, the same. In Paul's day the Gospel occupied the central position in the Roman world: it is for Christians now to make it actually as universal as the witness of the heavens. To carry still further forward the figure, the sun is introduced because his apparent course indicates clearly the width of the domain covered by the testimony of the heavens. In them is his position. All talk of sun gods in this connection is simple folly. David is not reciting mythology, but writing poetry. In this view he compares the bright reappearance of the morning sun to that of a bridegroom coming forth from the nuptial apartment, and his steady ongoing through the skies to the rapid course of a hero on his joyful way to the goal of victory. Nothing can be more striking than these figures. The king of day starts from one end of heaven and never pauses till he reaches the other, and his presence is one that can be felt as well as seen, for nothing can hide itself from his heat. Here comes a quick transition from God's revelation of Himself in nature to the similar revelation in the written Word. Its abruptness is quite excusable in view of the analogy, the law being in the spiritual world what the sun is in the natural.

(Talbot W. Chambers, D. D.)

The Bible recognises no conflict between science and religion. It asserts a unity of origin for the Word and the world. Faith takes God's word; science takes man's. But

"Science walks with humble feet

To seek the God that faith has found."

I. THAT THE BIBLE NOWHERE CONTRADICTS ESTABLISHED SCIENCE. — This is an amazing statement, for the Bible was written by unlearned men. Every truth of today has been opposed by men, not by Scripture. No doubt the Bible often speaks of things as they appear to the eye, as sunrise and sunset. But these are not contradictions to science.

II. THE BIBLE ALWAYS HAS BEEN, AND IS YET, FAR IN ADVANCE OF THE DISCOVERIES OF SCIENCE. Ere science discovered the order of progress in the developed world, or that the strata of the earth were formed by the action of water, and that the mountains were once under the sea; or that the earth was a sphere; or that the earth was upheld by no visible support; or that the stars were innumerable; or that light makes music as it flies; or that the sun had an orbit of its own — the Bible had said all these things. The Word is as full of undiscovered wisdom as the world.

III. VERY FEW SCIENTIFIC MEN RECOGNISE ANY ANTAGONISM BETWEEN THE REVELATION BY WORD AND THAT BY WORKS. The American Association for the Advancement of Science embraces the great names in this country. At its last meeting it was found that seven-eighths of these were professing Christians. The greatest of them see God in nature today.

IV. NATURE IS A UNIVERSAL REVELATION OF GOD, BUT OF THE LOWEST KIND. The heavens so declare the glory of God that even a heathen savage is without excuse if he do not discern God. The law of the Lord is the next higher revelation. See what is here said of it. But the highest revelation is Christ. He brings life and love to light; reveals a greater power in spiritual realms than gravitation is in material realms. But all revelations are one and of one God.

(Bishop R. W. Warren.)

I. THE HEAVEN'S A REVELATION OF GOD. They show God's character, as all works show character. The fault has been in men if they have not apprehended the declaration of the heavens. Paul said it could be "clearly seen." This revelation is —

1. Ceaseless.

2. Wordless. The Hebrew rightly rendered reads — "No speech nor language; their voice is not heard." That is, they utter no articulate words.

3. Universal. "Their line" — the measuring line used for the determining the boundaries of estates — takes in the whole earth; throughout this vast territory the signs which proclaim God are found.

II. THIS REVELATION A PROPHECY OF THAT OF THE GOSPEL. For it also is universal. Hence Paul quotes this Psalm. But how came Paul to see this meaning in David's words? Because the heavens are Christ's handiwork. "Without Him was nothing made that was made." And they manifest and declare Him. It is plain, therefore, that if He thus send His heavens to proclaim Him through all lands, and to sing His praise, much more will He desire that the Gospel of His grace by which far more glory will be His should be known far and wide, to the ends of the earth, that none may be hid from its saving light and heat. What a teacher, then, we have in the heavens. They sing to us of God, and of God in Christ. They declare the glory of Him whom not having seen we love.

(Samuel Cox, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. NATURE AS A PREACHER. It continues its eloquent discourse from age to age, and its aim in all is to draw the mind of man from the visible to the invisible, from the material to the spiritual, from itself to universal being.

II. THE BIBLE AS A PREACHER. This preacher is called by different names, "law," "testimony," "statutes," "commandments," "fear of the Lord," "judgments of the Lord."

1. The character of this preacher. Perfect, established, righteous, holy, thoroughly sound, precious.

2. The work of this preacher.

(1)A soul-restoring work.

(2)A mind-enlightening work.

(3)A heart-gladdening work.

(4)A life-regulating work.

(5)A sin-convincing work.

(6)A prayer exciting work.The Psalmist prays against sin, and he prays for holiness. The text implies three facts concerning human words and thoughts —

1. That God takes cognisance of them.

2. That God is pleased with right words and thoughts.

3. That God aids man in the promotion of right words and thoughts.

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
Five subjects for thought.

I. THE SUBJECT OF THE DISCOURSE. "The glory of God." Nature proclaims God's existence, government, and attributes.

1. The fact of nature reveals the being of God.

2. The vastness of nature, the immensity of God.

3. The uniformity of nature, the unity of God.

4. The regularity of nature, the unchangeableness of God.

5. The arrangements of nature, the wisdom of God.

6. The happiness of nature, the goodness of God.

7. The purity of nature, the holiness of God.

8. The beauty of nature, the tastefulness of God.

9. The variety of nature, the exhaustlessness of God.

II. THE INCESSANTNESS OF ITS DELIVERY. Nature as a preacher never tires, never pauses. Whilst generations come and go, this great preacher continues his sublime discourse without a break or pause.

III. THE INTELLIGIBLENESS OF ITS LANGUAGE. Its language is that of symbol; the easiest language for man to understand. A language of signs, addressed to eye and heart. So intelligible is the language that there is no excuse for ignorance of God.

IV. THE VASTNESS OF ITS AUDIENCE. Their "line" — that is, their instruction. All men live under those heavens, all of which are vocal with discourse of God.

V. THE IMMENSITY OF ITS RESOURCES.

1. The greatest light dwells in the heart of this preacher.

2. The greatest light circulates through the whole being of this preacher. From the subject learn —(1) Man's capacity to study and to worship God.(2) Man's obligation to study and to worship God. Study nature scientifically and religiously.

(Homilist.)

The scientific contemplation of nature is wholly absent from Scripture, and the picturesque is very rare. This Psalmist knew nothing about solar spectra, or stellar distances, but he heard a voice from out of the else waste heavens which sounded to him as if it named God. Comte ventured to say that the heavens declare the glory of the astronomer, not of God; but if there be an order in them, which it is a man's glory to discover, must there not be a mind behind the order, and must not the Maker have more glory than the investigator? The Psalmist is protesting against stellar worship, which some of his neighbours practised. The sun was a creature, not a god; his "race" was marked out by the same hand which in depths beyond the visible heavens had pitched a "tent" for his nightly rest. We smile at the simple astronomy; the religious depth is as deep as ever. Dull ears do not hear these voices; but whether they are stopped with the clay of earthly tastes and occupations, or stuffed with scientific wadding of the most modern kind, the ears that do not hear God's name sounded from the abysses above have failed to hear the only word which can make man feel at home in nature. Carlyle said that the sky was a "sad sight." The sadness and awfulness are taken away when we hear the heavens telling the glory of God. The unscientific Psalmist who did hear them was nearer the very heart of the mystery than the scientist who knows everything else about them but that.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Is the picture to be accepted as a revelation of the artist's genius? Is the poem to be regarded as a test of the poet's mental power? Then carry this rule with you in all your contemplations of the universe — as you walk beneath the dome of heaven, as you tremble in the shadows of the everlasting hills, as you rise into rapture while gazing on the swelling grandeur of the great deep and feel yourself wrapt in the presence of God. The universe is the thought of God made visible.

(R. Venting.)

The immortal Newton exclaimed, "Glory to God, who has permitted me to catch a glimpse of the skirts of His garments. My calculations have encountered the march of the stars." So sang Copernicus, Volta, Galileo, and Kepler. How truly did Young write, "the undevout astronomer is mad."

The firmament sheweth His handiwork.
Not often during the lifetime of a generation does a comet present itself. Give thought to the bright vision which no doubt engages the attention of other worlds beside our own, and on which the gaze of the unfallen inhabitants of celestial spheres may be fixed in reverent admiration.

1. Notice its beauty. In the exhaustless provision which God has made for our love of the beautiful we recognise an assurance that He regards with yet tenderer care our far deeper longings, the moral wants of our souls. 2, As we gain from science a knowledge of the movements of the comet we are impressed with the supremacy of law. No portion of the universe is more completely under the control of law than these comets, which were once supposed to be so erratic. Whatever is within the attraction of the sun moves upon one of three curves. As soon as a sufficient portion of the course of any body is known its whole curve can be ascertained. It is to the universal supremacy of law that all the achievements of science have been due. The supremacy of physical is a guarantee for the authority and permanence of moral law. The same Being who has established the one has pledged His veracity to the maintenance of the other.

3. Further knowledge of this comet impresses us with the magnitude of the universe. How numberless are the bodies inhabiting the measureless expanse. Of these worlds, is it likely that ours alone is inhabited?

4. Viewed in the light of these considerations, how insignificant does the world appear! And how insignificant is man! It is his soul alone that gives him dignity in the scale of being.

5. What a conception does a just view of the universe give us of the greatness and dignity of God! Who can escape His eye? Who can defy His power?

6. How great is the Divine condescension, especially as manifested in the atonement!

(H. L. Wayland.)

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