Song of David: Shouting Praise to GodDan Doyle
The sun rose and the sun set and rose again. So it has been since the dawn of creation and so it will be until the Lord comes again. Each day comes as pure gift and with the promise that we are not alone, that God is with us and desires all things good for us.
King David’s Psalm 19 literally shouts the praises of God’s creation when he writes:
“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 a 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.”
It seems that nature itself, though speechless, shouts the majesty and joy of life. It sings it in the bright rose hews of dawn, in the cheery morning songs of birds greeting the dawn. It whispers the Word in the treetops as the breezes pass. The sun truly does ride like a champion across the firmament. All is good in the whole of God’s natural creation. And we, like David, can experience it all with joyous awe.
But there is something else in this psalm. The second stanza shifts the focus but remains true to the Natural Law that is written in nature, for that same Law is written on the hearts of all of God’s children too. David goes on:
“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,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.”
Just as all things in nature are perfect, pure, trustworthy and right, so are the laws and commands of the Lord. He has given us in his wisdom all that we need to be righteous and good in the world. If we obey his Laws we are made free. That is the great mystery. In obedience to God’s Laws we find the only freedom worthy of a human being. When we bend to the pure perfection and absolute trustworthiness of God’s Laws, we become them, in and of ourselves. We are not only made free, we are made righteous and the goodness of our human nature matches that of the nature that shouts its joy all around us.
We, though, are the only beings in nature who can choose either to obey or to defy the Law written on our conscience. We can know the wisdom of God and bend to it joyfully, or turn away from it willfully. The sun, the trees, the mountains are beautiful, but they can not be made righteous. Only we can be made righteous through our recognition of, and submission to the commands of the Lord. Only we can sing the glories of God’s creation with our minds, our souls and our voices. Only a human being, someone like David, can write about the glories of creation and sing praises to the God who made it all. Only we who fall and fail in our nature can experience the mercy of God and learn the precious wisdom of obedience to his Laws.
“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.”
It is proper and right, then, that we make this our meditation and our prayer. For we who have been given much, owe much in return. For the gifts of nature and Nature’s Laws we owe great thanks to the One Who writes them across the incomprehensible vastness of creation and in the tiny vessels of our own souls.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Dan Doyle is a retired professor of English and Humanities. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology. To read more of Dan’s work, click here.