Summary: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." What does the plurality of heavens refer to, and what do the heavens' utterances say about God's glory?
For Sermon Central researchers: I have posted a series of 15 sermons on the Psalms. In recent personal studies I have found the psalms to be richer and more thought-provoking than I had fully appreciated. I had too often swept swiftly through psalms without slowing down to inquire as thoroughly as I might have into the depths of meaning and feeling that are expressed by the psalmists. Upon deeper examination and reflection, I find the psalms to be highly relevant to Christians in every age. My most recent foray into the psalms led me to present a series of studies of selected psalms in a class environment.
In my classes I did not examine every psalm, or every verse of the ones I did. Rather, I presented selected psalms that I believe to be representative of the collection in the book of Psalms. The studies were held in a class environment suitable for pauses for questions and discussion, and to pose “thought questions” where the meanings are not readily apparent, as is often the case in poetry. My notes include suggested points for such pauses, and I have not removed them in Sermon Central posts.
I developed the material with the view in mind that the series may be well used as sermons. There is an introductory sermon that describes what psalms are (whether they are in the 150-chapter book or elsewhere) and explains my approach to the series. The psalms I selected were presented in no particular order in the classes; however, I suggest that anyone using this material as a series begin with the introductory sermon and follow it with Psalms 1 and 2 in that order, as the first two psalms function as a pair. Beyond that, the selected psalms may be presented in any order.
To get as much enjoyment as we could from our study, I did some of the reading from the KJV, which I believe is the most beautiful of the English bible translations. For clarity we also used other versions, mainly ESV, which I have used for several years and the one I have come to prefer.
Psalm 19 – God Speaks to Man
Read Psalm 19
The ancient Maya Indians in Tulum, Mexico had no bibles. They knew nothing of the creation story, the nation of Israel, or God’s plan to save people from their sins. They had only the vaguest idea of what sin was, regulated only by the native sense of right and wrong.
Notwithstanding their ignorance of all that has been revealed to us, the Mayas, who believed in the existence of many gods, believed in an “upper God,”they called Itzamna. The believed him to be the creator of the universe and within it, human beings. Itzamna was believed to reside in the sky and uphold the corners of the world. They believed that when times were bad, it meant that God was displeased. At times, the Mayas went as far as to offer human sacrifices to try to please God.
Despite the harshness of their imaginings as to what God requires, God is depicted in the apex of the gabled fronts of their temples as the upside down God.
Today, he is called “the Descending God.”
As to why they so perceived the God of their imaginings, the conquest of the area by the Spanish left us with nothing but conjecture to go on.
But a plausible theory is:
The Mayas believed that God, who they little understood, nevertheless reached down to the people with loving care.
The Mayas didn’t have Psalm 19.
But they had the testimony of the heavens, giving them a flawed and fragmentary but remarkably similar idea of God to that which comes through firm knowledge of the scriptures, even to the point of seeing God upside down, reaching down to people.
We are blessed to have Psalm 19 and a lot more.
And the “lot more” that we have gives us a clearer grasp of what is meant by the utterances of the daytime and nighttime sky.
The primary doctrine I want to realize today is:
Unlike gods of stone, metal, and wood, our God has spoken, and speaks yet to man in many ways.
The psalm begins: “The heavens declare…”
There is a plurality of heavens.
The three heavens:
1. The earth’s atmosphere. It extends about 20 miles above the earth, getting thinner and colder as it goes toward its outer extent.
There are multiple layers within the atmosphere, each with its characteristics, but for our purposes, we will notice two, the troposphere and the stratosphere.
The stratosphere-still within the atmosphere-is the outermost part of the earth’s atmosphere.
The troposphere is the air we breathe, the place we live, where birds and airplanes fly, and clouds appear.
The word for “air” is ouranos, which is also translated “heaven.”