But creation isn't the only reveleation of God. The psalmist continues by speaking of the revelation that comes from the law of God. The Old Testament reading from Exodus 20 spoke of the giving of the Ten Commandments, whose words Moses inscribed upon tablets of stone. These words were meant to take a people formed by slavery and transform them into a nation whose purpose was to join the heavens in showing forth the glory, love and kindness of Yahweh. Far from being burdensome, God's laws were to be a delight: "The law of the Lord is perfect, and revives the soul...the statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart."
The task of living out holy lives, however, is not easy. There are times when our hearts need to be cleansed. In John's Gospel (chapter 20), we are reminded that even those who claim to be the keepers of God's revelation may lose sight of truth. When Jesus goes into Jerusalem to offer sacrifices in accordance with Jewish law, what he sees is deeply disturbing. Instead of this sacred place being a "house of prayer for all nations", it had been turned into a marketplace, the stalls of racketeers infringing on the area set aside for Gentiles to worship. Jesus strides purposefully into the courts with a handmade whip, overturning tables and moving out those obstructionists, making room for hearts intent on seeking God.
The purpose of God's revelation - creation, law, and ultimately the God-man Jesus - was not only to show us the character of the Holy, but to invite us to participate in the fellowship of the Divine. We are meant to see and then long for what is good, to take it into us like sweet honey. Blessed are the pure in heart, Jesus will say, for they shall see God. And those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, will be filled with the very same glory that the heavens declare.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament shows his handiwork.
One day tells its tale to another,
and one night imparts knowledge to another.
Although they have no words or language,
and their voices are not heard,
Their sound has gone out into all lands,
and their message to the ends of the world.
In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun;
it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
it rejoices like a champion to run its course.
It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
and runs about to the end of it again;
nothing is hidden from its burning heat.
The law of the LORD is perfect
and revives the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.
The statutes of the LORD are just
and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is clear
and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean
and endures for ever;
the judgments of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold,
sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb
By them also is your servant enlightened,
and in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can tell how often he offends?
cleanse me from my secret faults.
Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
let them not get dominion over me;
then shall I be whole and sound,
and innocent of a great offense.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
heart be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.
Note: The following rendition of The Heavens are Telling is performed by the Kings College Choir, Cambridge.