Psalm 19 is one of the memorable compositions in
that collection of 150 inspired songs of praise that adorns the
pages of the Old Testament. According to the superscription, it
is a psalm of David. The superscriptions are not inspired, but
they do reflect an ancient conviction. One might surmise that
this psalm recalls the awe David experienced while observing the
stars during those nights he worked as a shepherd lad. The song
very naturally falls into three sections:
- God has abstractly revealed himself in nature (1-6).
- Jehovah has concretely made himself known by verbal communication,
i.e., his Law (7-10).
- The practical value of the Law is to regulate human activity
In this article, we wish to discuss three implications
of the initial portion of this psalm, namely, the testimony of
the heavens to the Creator. Consider the following:
- The heavenly splendor declares the existence of a Maker.
- The magnificent universe asserts the power of God.
- The intricacies of the heavenly mechanisms affirm the wisdom
of the Divine Mind.
The Heavens and the Existence of God
Where did the universe come from? Every thoughtful
person has pondered this query. Actually, there are but three
possible explanations for the existence of the universe:
- Some speculate that the universe has existed forever. This
view is not consistent with the known facts of science. One of
the most widely recognized laws of science is the Second Law of
Thermodynamics. This law suggests that whenever matter is changed
from one form to another, its potential for work is always decreased.
Energy transfer is a degenerative process. The universe is growing
old; it is wearing out. One of the implications of the Second
Law is this - at some point in the past the universe had a beginning.
It is thus not eternal. Dr. Robert Jastrow, one of the nation's
most respected scientists, and an agnostic, has written, "Modem
science denies an eternal existence to the universe" (Jastrow,
Robert, Until the Sun Dies [New York: Warner Books, 1977],
- The current atheistic speculation is that the universe created
itself from nothing. Edward Tryon, professor of physics at the
City University of New York, wrote, "In 1973, 1 proposed
that our universe had been created spontaneously from nothing
(ex nihilo) as a result of established principles of physics."
He went on to suggest that "our universe had its physical
origin as a quantum fluctuation of some pre-existing true vacuum,
or state of nothingness" (Tryon, Edward, New Scientist
[March 8, 1984], pp. 14-15). If you understand that statement,
do not boast about it! It makes no sense whatsoever. There is
absolutely no scientific basis for such a wild hypothesis. If
matter has the ability to create itself from nothing, there should
be some evidence that matter is being created. But there is no
evidence of this. The First Law of Thermodynamics, in fact, asserts
that matter is not being created. It is therefore perfectly reasonable
to conclude that matter cannot make itself, and thus the universe
is not self-created
- The only remaining logical conclusion is this: the universe
was created by something, or someone, other than itself. Since
the universe is characterized by order/design, and since design
implies intelligence, it is reasonable to acknowledge that an
intelligent someone was responsible for the birth of the cosmic
community of which we are a part. The Bible reveals that the someone
The Heavens and the Power of God
The power of the Creator is seen in the vastness
of the great universe which he fashioned. Though its limits have
not been measured, it is estimated that the universe may be some
20 billion light years from "border to border." That
is actually the distance that light would travel in 20 billion
years at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. This is really
beyond our comprehension.
The sun is our nearest star. It is 93 million miles
from earth. Do you know how far away our next-nearest star-neighbor
is? Suppose we attempted to draw a crude map of the universe on
a blackboard. Let us place a dot in the center of the board. This
will represent the earth. One inch away, we will place another
dot. This will represent the sun. Our map scale will be: 1 inch
= 93 million miles. If we wanted to place yet another dot, identifying
our next-nearest star, the blackboard would need to be four and
one-half miles long! Remember, each inch of that distance would
represent 93 million miles. If we desired to extend our map just
to the center of our own "little" star-community, the
Milky Way galaxy, the blackboard would need to be 25 thousand
miles long, each inch of the way being the equivalent of 93 million
miles. It is an understatement to suggest that the universe is
It is a fact of human experience that when something
becomes commonplace, it ceases to retain its mystery, its enchantment.
The curious human mind will never lose its fascination with the
sublime universe. We will ever be challenged to contemplate the
power of him who made it all. Dr. Arthur Harding, in his textbook
on astronomy, asked:
Who can study the science of astronomy and contemplate
the star-lit heavens with a knowledge of the dimensions of the
celestial bodies, their movements and their enormous distances,
without bowing his head in reverence to the power that brought
this universe into being and safely guides its individual members?
(Harding, Arthur M., Astronomy [New York: Garden City Publishing
Co., 1940], p. 386).
The Heavens and the Wisdom of God
The wisdom of the Creator is evinced in the brilliant
precision characteristic of the Cosmos. Incidentally, kosmos
(order), is the name the Greeks gave to the universe. They
perceived that it was like a great machine. Balbus, a Stoic philosopher,
asked, "Can one behold heaven, and contemplate what passes
there, without discerning with all possible evidence, that it
is governed by a supreme divine intelligence?" (Cited in:
Rollin, Charles, Ancient History [Cincinnati: Applegate
& Co., 1854], Vol. 2, p. 580). We live in a universe, not
a multi-verse! Jeremiah was quite deliberate and accurate
when spoke of the "ordinances" of the heavens (31:35).
Consider the mechanics of our own solar system. The
earth is spinning on its axis at the rate of a thousand miles
per hour (at the equator). In addition, it is traveling in an
elliptical orbit around the sun at the speed of 72 thousand miles
an hour. It takes 365 ¼ days to make a complete trip. As
the earth makes its way along its charted orbital route, the course
is slightly altered - one-ninth of an inch every eighteen miles.
If the alteration were as much as one-eighth of an inch, we would
swing so close to the sun that we would bum up. If the curvature
was as slight as one-tenth of an inch, we would be so far out
in space as to freeze (Science Digest [January/February
1981], p. 124). Someone programmed it just right!
In addition to the intricacies of our own planetary
system, the entire solar system (the sun with its nine planets,
moons, etc.) is moving in a giant orbit within the Milky Way galaxy.
It is estimated that we are being propelled through space at the
speed of approximately 600 thousand miles per hour. It is remarkable
that David spoke of the sun going in "his circuit" (19:6)
according to the divine scheme of things.
Why these heavenly bodies behave the way they do
remains a mystery. Great Britain's premier astronomer, Sir James
Jeans, was correct a few years back when he suggested:
The ultimate realities of the universe are at present
beyond the reach of science, and may be --- and probably are -
forever beyond the comprehension of the human mind. It is a
priori probable that only the artist can understand the full
significance of the picture he has painted, and that this will
remain for ever impossible for a few specks of paint on the canvas
(Jeans, James Sir, The Universe Around Us [New York: The
Macmillan Co., 1929], p. 318).
When we survey skies on a clear night, and reflect
upon the existence, power, and wisdom of the grand Architect of
the universe, surely we must ponder, as David did elsewhere, "What
is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that
thou hast visited him?" (Psa. 8:4). With Paul we acknowledge,
"For the invisible things of him since the creation of the
world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that
are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may
be without excuse" (Rom. 1:20).
(Editor's note: We are in debt to Wayne Jackson
for this excellent, thought-provoking article. Brother Jackson
publishes a "journal of Biblical studies. " The four-page
journal is a monthly paper and can be ordered at a cost of $3.00
per year by writing to: Christian Courier, 3906 E. Main
St., Stockton, CA 95215. Wayne Jackson
along with Bert Thompson and others also produces a six-page monthly
paper dealing with Christian evidences entitled, Reason &
Revelation. The subscription rate is $5.00 per year and can
be ordered from Apologetics Press,
Inc., 230 Landmark Dr., Montgomery, AL 36117-2752. The Firm
Foundation is pleased to recommend both of these fine publications.
We also thank brethren Jackson and Thompson for the valuable service
they render to the church
- H. A. (Buster) Dobbs.
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