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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