Learning from the Sky’s Speech

By Rev. Scott Dunham

Psalm 19

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;

    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;

    night after night they reveal knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words;

    no sound is heard from them.

4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

    their words to the ends of the world

9 The fear of the Lord is pure,

    enduring forever.

The decrees of the Lord are firm,

    and all of them are righteous.

12 But who can discern their own errors?

    Forgive my hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;

    may they not rule over me.

Then I will be blameless,

    innocent of great transgression.

            Sometimes, life can stop you in your tracks: you look about unable to figure out where you are. Even the old answers seem to fail you in finding your bearings. As my son asked me a series of questions about God, heaven, and his Grampy’s death, I had no answers. In fact, I felt like I was in a vacuum, where nothing could be said that made any sense—even to myself!

            That night, as I lay in bed, my mind turned to one of my favourite psalms. There, the psalmist describes how the sky and its inhabitants “declare” and “proclaim” God’s glory in a speech that is unlike human words and without human sounds. In our world, most people would dismiss this as slightly romantic poetry, since inanimate objects cannot think or communicate. However, this psalm comforts me precisely because the psalmist hears the speech of God’s creatures. The careful and attentive person cannot help but learn to hear the languages of creation. That is something any farmer, hunter, or seasoned hiker knows.

            Our routines and habits are tremendously important to our reasoning and coping skills. If suddenly A does not precede B, and C does not follow after B, then we have lost a basis for meaning. We feel adrift in a world of chaos when our stable and predictable world are overturned. We end up at a loss for words, and therefore at a loss for meaning, if we only rely upon human society and its structures to explain the meaning of life.

            The psalmist learned that meaning belongs to everything, even if it does not always fit our comforting, regular, routines and plans. Without the stability and integrity of creation, there could not be life. But that stability and integrity is a hymn to God, who has made everything to know him and find its life and meaning in him alone. We do well to learn the speech of the rest of creation, so that God’s meaning is not reduced to our routines and expectations. Then we can retain the hope that the Creator has a master plan that includes us, even when life seems chaotic.

Rev. Scott Dunham serves as the Pastor of Visitation to those in Senior’s homes and hospital.