This spring, during the quarantine, my youngest son and I have taken up a new hobby. We go outside in the darkness, to the backyard, lie down, and stare straight up into the clear, dark Arizona sky to behold the dazzling stars. The more our eyes adjust, the more stars we begin to see. But about the only stars visible to us at night are the big boys, the stars that are mostly brighter and larger than our own sun. I love to hear the awe in my son’s voice as I recite to him the stats on what we’re looking at, the size and distance of each visible star. He still finds it hard to believe anything can be larger or brighter than the hot sun over Arizona. In these moments, we hear the voice of the Creator. In the sky, God speaks to us — well, kind of. Here’s John Piper, in a 1990 sermon on Psalm 19, to explain what we hear.
What you see when you look up outdoors speaks. It tells; it proclaims. You see those verbs in Psalm 19. But here’s the verb I like best in Psalm 19:2: “Day to day pours out speech.” Now, I looked that verb up in Hebrew, just to check it out, and it is a very exciting word. It means “gush forth,” “spew out” knowledge and speech.
“God is gushing forth speech to you. He means for you to hear it.”
So, fix this truth very firmly in your minds: every time the sun rises, or every time the stars come up, or every time the thunder rolls and the lightning strikes, every time there is a lavender, gold, yellow sunrise or sunset, God is gushing forth speech to you. And he means for you to hear it. And he means for you to be ministered to by it. He means for you to be helped by it.
From God to You
Do you believe God speaks in vain? Do you believe God speaks without love? Do you believe he just rambles on with no purpose like some people do? No. Whenever God speaks, every word is designed for your good. And so the point is simply this: when you look up, God is speaking to you. And we need to learn to hear it. We need to learn to interpret and be helped by what he’s saying. The message comes without words, without speech, without voice.
This is difficult because most of us are so word dependent — I am — that thinking of something coming from God’s heart to my heart minus words is very difficult. And that’s what’s happening when you look up: something is being communicated from God’s mind and heart to your mind and heart without any vehicle of language — no reasonings, no arguments, no words.
Now, you can tell how hard this is because David has to use paradox to get it across. Look at the paradox between Psalm 19:2 and Psalm 19:3. Verse 2 says, “Day to day pours out speech.” Then look at verse 3: “There is no speech.” That’s the same Hebrew word for speech, by the way. There’s no different word there, no fancy meaning. It’s the same thing in English that it is in Hebrew. Speech is being poured forth, and there is no speech. Do you get it? It’s not easy to get. We are not good at it; I’m not good at it: getting messages from God, not through words, but through light, color, shape, contrast, proportion, design, magnitude, and a lot of other things I’m sure I can’t think of that make up what the eye inhales when it looks up. God is communicating without words, without voice, without speech.
And yet verse 4 goes right back to verse 2 and says, yet, “Their line has gone out through all the earth” (NASB). That may be written line, may be plumb line, sound, voice. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what that word means, but we get the idea. “And their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:4). There it is: words. “Hey, I thought there were no words.” Well, there aren’t, but there are: words to the end of the world — wordless words, speechless speech, voiceless voice from God’s heart to your heart to minister healing and wholeness and happiness and humility and hope. Are you good at it? Do you get it? Or are you too busy even to look up and listen? The message that comes without words through the sky is about God. Day and night, everywhere in the world, God is speaking about God. You see in verse 1: “The heavens declare the glory of God.”
Always More Glory
We are not pantheists. Let’s get this real clear. We are not New Age pantheists. In the beginning, God — who always was without nature, full and complete in his triune happiness — said, “Let there be nature,” and there was nature. And it is not God. We are not pantheists. We believe in God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. We are light-years away from the kind of being that the New Age puts forth, calling all “God.”
There were mornings on the study leave — the cottage was at the bottom of the hill. And about twenty or thirty yards into the woods was this little trailer where I sat most of the days working on a book. And mornings I would walk, and I would just stop about halfway in the woods. And I would look down through the pine trees, which were probably eighty or a hundred years old, to the little four-acre lake that’s down there.
“It is an awesome thing to behold the glory of God in the sky.”
And I would see the sun spangled with its diamonds, dancing across the water. You know how it does on the lake in the morning. And then I would begin to look up. It’s about 9:00am. The sun’s at an angle, just blazing through. And there’s this shield of hickory and oak and sweet gum and maple leaves all swaying in the breeze. And they’re all yellow, green, and gold. And then I looked on up, and there was the big, broad, expansive blue, and the cool morning breeze was hitting me in the face. And all I could do was say, “Glory, glory, glory.” And I didn’t reason it out either. I didn’t lecture myself. It was just there; it’s just there. When you open your eyes to see what God has done, you see glory.
The glory of God is not something that can be transferred merely by words. It is transferred by words in the gospel, by gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, by the Scriptures, and by the skies, but it is only being transferred. The glory of God is always something more than sky. It’s always something more than Scripture. It’s always something more than gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit. The glory of God is tasted by spiritual perception within. It is perceived by the gift of God’s revelation. It is an awesome thing to behold the glory of God in the sky.