St. John’s University, Collegivelle, MN, 56231 2006
Wednesday, June 10 By Barbara Higdon
Psalm 19 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
C.S. Lewis said of Psalm 19, “I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.”
During this pandemic, we have all spent too much time indoors, afraid to venture out and risk exposure. Many of our members have truly been in lock-down communities for their protection, which they cannot leave and we cannot visit. Electronics occupy too much of our attention, and while they are useful in connecting with our family and the larger community, they are no substitute for the real world outside our walls. They have also brought heart-breaking images, fear and negativity into our homes.
This beautiful Psalm reminds us that the natural beauty of God’s creation is always singing out to us and proclaiming the glory of God himself. We’ve all felt the stirring in our souls when we have stopped and really seen a beautiful view. Recently, our creative church staff has made use of our beautiful church grounds by incorporating them into our worship services. Willard Teel has posted Facebook photos of spectacularly beautiful locations to cheer us on virtual visits. Many have gone on scenic drives to see wildflowers, lakes and rivers. All of these images remind us that God’s creative power is a blessing and they do fill us with the glory of God.
I was fortunate to be at the coast recently, where I saw a vibrant sunset of reds and oranges. Views of the ocean can have such a calming effect on my soul. How can we not worship the One who gave us the gift of the natural world? The psalmist says of these natural elements, “They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Spoken words often fail us. We have heard angry rhetoric, obscene accusations, and hate-filled speech all too often during this stressful time. The second section of this psalm also reminds us that the law of the Lord is perfect, giving joy to the heart and light to the eyes. We know that His law is to love one another and treat everyone with kindness and fairness that we expect to be accorded to us.
Lord, we pray to seek out goodness in this trying time. Let us find ways to truly be instruments of peace. Like the beautiful, light-giving sun, we, too, are your creation. Help us to pour out light in this dark time. As the psalmist sang in this beautiful benediction, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Amen