Psalms Project: Psalm 19 – From Venus to God

 “The black sky was underpinned with long silver streaks that looked like scaffolding and depth on depth behind it were thousands of stars that all seemed to be moving very slowly as if they were about some vast construction work that involved the whole order of the universe and would take all time to complete. No one was paying attention to the sky. Flannery O’Connor in Wise Blood, chapter 3 (emphasis mine)

Yesterday, millions of people around the world were focused on the transit of Venus across the sun (from our point of view). My son, Aidan, a would-be astronomer, wanted to watch it, too. So we turned on NASA TV and watched for awhile. Aidan got bored with just seeing the black dot of Venus against the solar backdrop.  It didn’t move fast. It didn’t explode or shoot off fireworks. It just kept imperceptibly moving. (He loved the solar flare pictures and other parts, though.)

However, I was in awe of the Creator of this universe. I am not alone. King David was often moved to worship as he observed God’s creation by looking up. Psalm 19 is a prime example. (Stop and read it before reading on here.) What is most interesting is that David moves from a poetic description of the stars and the sun to outbursts of praise for God’s laws and commands. How did he make that leap? I think the Venus transit explains it perfectly.

The transit of Venus was no surprise to us. Astronomers knew exactly when it would happen. Why? Because the motions of the universe are consistent and calculable. The laws of gravity, mathematics, and physics predict these astrological alignments. This order, understood by the ancients even before the descriptions of physics, points to a Designer and Sustainer. That is exactly how David reasons:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
Psalm 19:1-2, 7 (NASB)

David does not stop with praise and wonder, though. In verses 1-6, he uses only the general name for God, El, one time. In verses 7-14, though, he uses the personal, covenant name Lord (Yahweh), seven times. He is getting more personal with Yahweh. In verses 11-14, he submits himself to this Creator and Lawgiver God:

Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 19:11 (NASB)

Finally, he ends with one of his most quoted prayers. His contemplation on the Creator has brought him to a powerful plea:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 (NASB)

European Space Agency, NASA & Peter Anders (Göttingen University Galaxy Evolution Group, Germany)

A thousand years later, the apostle Paul argued similarly that God’s creation reveals God’s attributes. So no one can say they had no knowledge of the one, true God:

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. Romans 1:19-20 ESV

Yet, I wonder how many people watched the transit of Venus and missed the Creator God who designed all of this. Flannery O’Connor alludes to this same ignorance in the great quote above that I “happened” to read today. (Thanks, Jacob Willard, for the Top 100 Novel Challenge that got me into that book!)

The next time you look up into the heavens, stop to think what God is telling you. He is speaking, if you will listen.

(Yes, this post for the Psalms Project is out of order, but I decided this one was timely.)

Catching up with the Psalms Project?
Psalm 1: Planted or Seated?
Psalm 2:  Safe, Not Shackled

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16 thoughts on “Psalms Project: Psalm 19 – From Venus to God

  1. Not Alone says:

    The Venus transit was truly a once in a lifetime event. God is amazing! And He set the heavens in motion with SUCH exact precision at the beginning of time! There is so much He is speaking to us through His creation, it astounds me. There is even more significance to much of what we see than at first meets the eye. God is speaking to us, truly. The heavens are declaring the glory of God!

    This is a great video that talks more in depth about the recent Venus transit as well as the annular solar eclipse of last month. (http://youtu.be/71CGGfBj5I0) It gets most interesting in the second half. I learned so much 🙂

    “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near!”

    • Sean Durity says:

      I didn’t finish the video you linked here, but I loved how responsive the church is to the pastor. Thanks for stopping by to read. I’m glad I’m not the only one moved by God’s heavenly wonders.

  2. linneann says:

    The clarity of this piece is excellent, Sean. There is no doubt in my mind that creation is evidence of a Creator; it is easily taken for granted. I planted flower seeds for the first time in my life a few weeks ago. When they first started peeking through the soil, I was in awe. I look at them daily as a reminder.

  3. Wow, Sean. I really like this. I’m going to make a change in my blog roll and get you listed on the Cowboy site as well as the Chasing the Ghost site. I also want to feature this article, but in a way that people come to your site. I think I’ll copy the first part, (if that is alright), and then put a link if they want to read the rest. I love your takes on the Psalms. Keep up the good work!

  4. patgarcia says:

    Hi,
    I have nominated your blog for the Inspiring Blog Award. For more information, please see: http://patgarciabookreviews.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/inspiringblogaward/?preview=true&preview_id=22&preview_nonce=373e43ad43
    Ciao,
    Patricia

  5. Donald Miller says:

    This is quite a nice site you have, Sean. I enjoyed your essay. I didn’t even know about the event until I was on the Cowboy’s site and saw the beginning of your post.

    • Sean Durity says:

      That is quite a compliment coming from the on-line magazine editor. Thank you very much. Next transit of Venus is in 2117, so you missed a rare event. Of course, there are plenty of other astronomical events. Thanks so much for stopping by and following!

  6. Lisa Mason says:

    I have a daughter who is the same way- she loves to watch this sort of thing. She also really loves animals, and small children. She seems so much more in tune with all that God has created than many other people rushing through their lives, just trying to get things done. I do believe it is a gift she has to appreciate His creations so much more than others. She reminds me to appreciate them, too. Love this blog and will be saving and returning often.

    • Sean Durity says:

      Isn’t it fun to see how God gifts our children? I think it is just one more tool for shaping our lives as parents. Lisa, I am honored you took time to stop by and read and compliment my work. I know you are a prolific writer, and I’m just me.

  7. […] Finding Rest in the Midst of Crisis – Psalm 3 From Venus to God – Psalm 19 […]

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