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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 19:1



The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Adam Clarke Commentary

The heavens declare the glory of God - Literally, The heavens number out the glory of the strong God. A first view of the starry heavens strikes every beholder with astonishment at the power by which they were made, and by which they are supported. To find out the wisdom and skill displayed in their contrivance requires a measure of science: but when the vast magnitude of the celestial bodies is considered, we feel increasing astonishment at these works of the strong God.

The firmament - The whole visible expanse; not only containing the celestial bodies above referred to, but also the atr, light, rains, dews, etc., etc. And when the composition of these principles is examined, and their great utility to the earth and its inhabitants properly understood, they afford matter of astonishment to the wisest mind, and of adoration and gratitude even to the most unfeeling heart.

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These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The heavens declare the glory of God - They announce, proclaim, make known his glory. The word heavens here refers to the material heavens as they appear to the eye - the region of the sun, moon, and stars. The Hebrew word is used in the Scriptures uniformly in the plural number, though in our common translation the singular number is often used. Genesis 1:1, Genesis 1:8-9, Genesis 1:14, Genesis 1:17, Genesis 1:20; Genesis 6:17; Genesis 7:11, Genesis 7:19, Genesis 7:23; et soepe. The plural, however, is often retained, but without any special reason why it should be retained in one place rather than in another. Genesis 2:1, Genesis 2:4; Deuteronomy 10:14; Ezra 9:6; Psalm 2:4; Psalm 8:1, Psalm 8:3; Psalm 18:13. The original idea may have been that there was one heaven above another - one in which the sun was placed, another in which the moon was placed, then the planets, the fixed stars, etc. Above all was supposed to be the place where God dwells. The word glory here means that which constitutes the glory or honor of God - his wisdom, power, skill, faithfulness, benevolence, as seen in the starry worlds above us, the silent, but solemn movements by day and by night. The idea is, that these convey to the mind a true impression of the greatness and majesty of God. The reference here is to these heavens as they appear to the naked eye, and as they are observed by all men. It may be added that the impression is far more solemn and grand when we take into the estimate the disclosures of the modern astronomy, and when we look at the heavens, not merely by the naked eye, but through the revelations of the telescope.

And the firmament - See the note at Daniel 12:3. The word rendered firmament - רקיע râqı̂ya‛ means properly “an expanse” - that which is spread out - and is applied to the heavens as they appear to be spread out or expanded above us. The word occurs elsewhere in the following places, and is always rendered “firmament” in our common version, Genesis 1:6, Genesis 1:7 (twice), Genesis 1:8, Genesis 1:14, Genesis 1:15, Genesis 1:17, Genesis 1:20; Psalm 150:1; Ezekiel 1:22-23, Ezekiel 1:25-26; Ezekiel 10:1; Daniel 12:3. The word “firmament” - that which is firm or fixed - is taken from the word used by the translators of the Septuagint, στερέωμα stereōma from the idea that the heavens above us are a solid concave. In the Scriptures the stars are represented as placed in that expanse, so that if it should be rolled together as a tent is rolled up, they would fall down to the earth. See the note at Isaiah 34:4. The reference in the passage before us is to the heavens as they appear to be spread out over our heads, and in which the stars are fixed.

Showeth his handywork - The heavens make known the work of his hands. The idea is that God had made those heavens by his own hands, and that the firmament, thus adorned with sun, and moon, and stars, showed the wisdom and skill with which it was done. Compare Psalm 8:3.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God.

The glory of God

Nature exists not for a merely natural, but for a moral end; not for what it is, but for what it says or declares.

I. What nature tells us to think of God.

1. Nature reveals God. The race as a whole have heard the declaration of His eternal power and Godhead. In proportion as they have heard, adoring, they have risen in the scale of manhood.

2. Nature declares the knowledge and power of God. The marks of mathematical and geometric law in nature are conspicuous. The more we explore the different departments of nature, the more we find it pervaded by strict arithmetical and dynamic laws. We meet thought everywhere. The race of man, as a whole, has heard, and to some extent understood, the testimony of nature to infinite thought and power.

3. Nature declares that God is just and good. This has been called in question. Nature says that every natural law, if obeyed, tends to happiness. Nature’s laws are benevolent, Men have not fully appreciated this, for one reason, because they have so commonly broken those laws and have suffered. But does nature in any wise speak of the Divine mercy? This question has often been wrongly answered. Listen attentively, and you will hear nature say that God is merciful. It is a striking fact that very many, if not all, physical penalties can be mitigated, if not relieved, by some counter law, some curious side-process or arrangement. God has so made nature as practically to encourage self-sacrifice for each other. Whenever men take pains for each other, to help each other over their faults and their consequences, there is an illustration, however faint, of the Divine principle of mercy. Mercy is the policy of the Divine government; it is the character of God Himself.

II. What God thinks of nature.

1. God looks upon nature as a basis of language. Let the heavenly orbs be for signs. Signs are vehicles of ideas. Let them say something; let them be words. The universe is God’s telephone, God’s grand signal service system by which He can flash messages from the heights above to the deepest valleys below. The material system is God’s great instrument of conversation.

2. God tells us what to think of this eloquent material system. It is God’s most glorious schoolroom by which to teach us reality,--above all, to teach us self-government, and painstaking for one another. Why are we in such a world? Because we needed to be. We need what we get here. We need that knowledge of ourselves which nature can give. We need to be where we are. We need just the restraints and the liberties, the trials and the triumphs, the joys and the sorrows, the smiles and the tears, the bliss and the anguish of this strange life. And in all, and through all, we need to know Him who placed us here, and is revealing Himself to us in a thousand ways. (Charles Beecher.)

The Biblical conception of nature

The whole of revelation reposes on this broad platform: how God and nature stand to one another. Now, there are two opposite extremes into which our conceptions on this point may fall. We may immerse God in nature; or we may isolate nature from God.

1. We immerse God in nature if we treat nature as itself possessed of properties which are strictly personal; as when, for example, we accustom ourselves to think of it as originating its own processes, as intending its own results, or as conscious of its own plan. Men talk of nature as though it were aiming at certain ends, striving to accomplish them, adapting itself to new conditions, overcoming fresh obstacles, and so forth. The corrective lies in the scriptural idea of creation as an act of will of One who is outside of material being. Scripture is strictly philosophical when it traces all phenomena, all change, ultimately to a will. But will is an attribute of personality; and the Person whose will determines that nature should be what it is must be a Person not Himself included in the nature which He wills shall be. He is God. Again--

2. We may unduly isolate nature as God’s workmanship from God the worker. We do this, e.g., when we conceive of the universe as teaching us nothing of God, being only a whirl of material change without spiritual meaning; or when we represent it as a machine which, being somehow endued with a given stock of force, must go on so long as the force lasts, like a watch that has been once wound up. To separate the work from the worker after this sheer and mechanical fashion may do some harm to science, and it leaves hardly any foothold for religion. Again, the spiritual conception of creation will furnish the corrective. According to it, God is personally separate from and above nature, yet for all that He has put into His handiwork His own thoughts. We may fairly say that both sides of the idea lie in embryo in the solitary phrase, “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made.” For the word of any person serves two functions: it is the organ of command, conveying an act of will; it is also the organ of expression, revealing the speaker’s nature. Stupendous conception of primary force! The force of personal will, resident in the Supernatural Being, in the one sole unmade, unborn Person, who is that He is; is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty. The sole cause; sole origin of being; sole efficient factor in the beginning; is this act of volition or self-determination of an Infinite Personal Will. “He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” It accords with experience; it satisfies philosophy; not less does it meet the religious necessities of the spirit; for if I am to worship at all, where shall I find a nobler object of worship than the Person who will give being to all beings but Himself? On the other hand, the word of a speaker while it utters his will must no less reflect, consciously or unconsciously, his inner self. It seems to me that in this Biblical conception of nature as the revelation of its Maker we find the common root whence have grown two very dissimilar growths of the ancient and of the modern world. The great fact of the whole ancient world was this, that its multiform religions started from a nature basis. The sun and stars, the reproductive forces of animal and vegetable life, the decay and revival of the year, the wondrous cycle, in short, of cosmic change through which nature accomplishes herself, was the common fact which very early riveted the attention of primitive man, till out of it there grew up in many lands, under many shapes, a system of religious observance everywhere the same in principle. Being whose thoughts these objects revealed, men began to adore the symbol, and to forget the Invisible Person behind it. Easy and rapid was the downward plane to idolatry and polytheism and gross fetish worship. Yet what is worth noting is, that such nature religions would have been impossible had not nature really spoken to unsophisticated men a Divine message, had it not been charged to their souls from the first with Divine ideas. We are far enough removed now from that early stage of human experience. The world is grown aged, and the work of its age is not to worship nature, but to master it. Yet this modern science which leads to the utilisation of physical forces for human needs is not less an outgrowth from the same root. For all our power over nature reposes immediately on our correct reading of natural laws. Observation of naked facts will never put into man’s hand the sceptre of the physical world, Naked facts must lead on to the discovery of law; and law is the Divine idea governing the facts; and when man has discovered and mastered that Divine idea, then he becomes in his degree a divinity on earth, a lord over matter, a maker and disposer in his turn. What does this mean but that we come to read behind phenomena the thought and will of One whom, because He is a personal Spirit as we are, we can comprehend? We reach the secret principles on which He makes, not made merely but is ever making, the world; and when we thus know His mind, or on what lines His will moves, we enter upon a share of His dominion; we fall in with His working plan; we, too, govern by imitating Him. I have cited both ancient nature worship and modern nature study as alike dependent for their possibility upon the same truth of Scripture; this, namely, that nature, being made by God’s Word, speaks to us His thoughts. But if I desired conclusive evidence how insufficient is this revelation of itself to guide men to friendly communion with God, where could I find any more conclusive than is furnished by the history both of ancient nature religions and of modern science! Of the one the tendency was more and more to immerse God in nature, till He was wholly lost in His own handiwork. Of the latter--modern science--the tendency very decidedly is to isolate nature from God, as a wholly separate existence whose relationship to its Author (if any) is at least unknown. This moral revelation, which began with Abraham and culminated in Jesus Christ, admits of being both compared and contrasted with the older nature revelation.

1. The later revelation starts from and builds upon the earlier one. It is not so often recollected as it should be, but once seen it cannot be doubted that underneath every other relationship which the God of the Bible claims to sustain to us as Lawgiver, Father, Redeemer, Promiser, Saviour there lies this broad, original relationship of all--that He is our Creator. That tie to Him, which we share with even the dumb cattle and the dead earth, bears up and justifies all the rest. Man is a portion of the created universe, and its Maker must be his Lord and King.

2. It must be clear that such a revelation as we actually possess in the Bible is only possible if God be (as the Bible teaches) at once above nature, and yet present, self-revealed in nature. First of all, we are ourselves part of the world, and if we are to receive communications that transcend what the world itself can tell us, then He who gives them must stand outside of and above the world. The supernatural is impossible if God be inseparable from nature or be its slave. On the other hand, the actual revelation recorded in the Bible employed nature as its organ. In the revelation of new truth God is constantly found availing Himself of the old creation. Dreams, and visions, and voices to the ear, the thundercloud on Sinai, the cleft sea, dearth and the plague, the vicissitudes of war, conquest, and revolt were all turned into vehicles for teaching saving lessons to mankind. The whole of Bible teaching, too, attaches itself to the parables of nature. Above all, His final revelation of Himself is in the life of a Man, a true natural life resting on the physical basis of a true body, “born of a woman”; so that the highest of all revelations is in appearance the most human, the least supernatural.

3. The voice of the new revelation agrees with the voice of the old. To develop the congruousness of the Divine image in nature with the Divine image in Scripture would take too long; I only suggest it to you. The absolute unity of plan which strict research is daily proving more and more--a unity now known to reach as far as the planets in their spheres--attests that the Creator is one. And Scripture proceeds on the unity of God. (b) Throughout all nature we find a will at work whose method is to bind itself by orderly method and fixed law. This reveals a mind in God intolerant of what is arbitrary, eccentric, or illegal. All is variety, yet all is system. Now, the revelation of the Divine will in Scripture is likewise the revelation of a law, and its chief end is the reduction of moral anarchy to moral order. (c) Again, we are daily learning how patiently, and through what long, slow, even laborious processes God has been pleased to build up His physical universe, as though a thousand years were to Him of no more account than a single day, so long as the results are wrought by growth and evolution, rather than by sudden shocks or interventions. This is God’s way in nature, and it has been His way in grace. (d) Once more, the God of nature avenges the transgression of every physical law by a sentient creature. Scripture discovers precisely the same features in the moral and spiritual rule of God. So far the two revelations walk abreast. Thanks be to God, the Gospel continues its parable where the voice of nature falters and grows mute. Of law, of transgression, of penalty and reward, of life and death, nature has no less to say than the Bible has. But of another law higher than that of penalty, of grace which transcends judgment, of the spiritual law of self-sacrifice, of redemption of life by life, and giving up of the just for the unjust, and forgiveness of sin and regeneration of the lapsed,--the physical universe is wholly, or all but wholly, silent. (J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

God’s works and Word

Providence is the best schoolmaster. This Psalm leads us, and is designed to lead us, to a contemplation of nature. Not the faintest apprehension appears, lest contradictions may be discovered between the world book and the word book. The sympathy with nature is complete, and not the less so because the poet has been enabled to penetrate the closest of her secrets. “The wisest of men are those who with pious eagerness trace the goings-forth of Jehovah as well in creation as in grace.” Just that is the wisdom here. The study is a reverent study. God is seen everywhere. The lines are saturated with theology. There are, however, other voices of praise. While, doubtless, the heavens are the work of God’s fingers and declare His glory, His Word is yet “more to be desired.” Fascinated as David has been with the contemplation of the Creator’s works, he does not make the blunder of despising the written revelation. Some of the grounds for a conclusion which so exalts the Word above the works.

1. A comparison of the contents of the two revelations. From nature we may learn the existence of an infinite personal God. But is this mighty Author of the universe a friend? There throbs the tremendous interrogation concerning which the heavens make to the eager shepherd boy no answer. With regard to the problems which most deeply affect our welfare, nature only baffles us. The Gospel far surpasses all that nature can be made to teach.

2. Not only in its contents, but in the proclamation of them, is the Word magnified. Consider the instrumentalities selected for the utterance of the Gospel. Angels, the Son of God.

3. Consider by what enforcement of his Word God is magnified. In nature there is no provision for effectively reaching the conscience and moving the will. To apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ, the Spirit has come.

4. Observe the stupendous effects produced, by God’s Word. “Enlightening the eyes.” “rejoicing the heart, making wise the simple,” “converting the soul,” here are effects chiefly wrought by God’s Word. (Hanford A. Edson, D. D.)

The testimony of the works and the Word

Nature is the volume in which the Godhead of the Creator is plainly discoverable. Scripture is the volume in which all may read the Divine will concerning men.

I. Nature’s testimony to the existence of God. Nature is here pictured as comprising the “heavens” and the “firmament,” together with alternating days and nights--these sublime works witnessing for God. David attempts to teach no lesson in astronomy. He imagines an observant and thoughtful man opening his eyes upward, and affirms that what this man beholds proves the presence and power of God. These heavens are forever telling or revealing the presence, power, majesty, supremacy of the Infinite. What he means to say is, that the realm of nature, beautiful in outline, vast in proportions, grand in order and methods of movement, illustrates glorious qualities of being and of character, and that in this creation the good of man and of all sentient beings has been so manifestly sought and secured that God therein is plainly revealed as ever present in power and in proclamation of Himself. Here, then, is not astronomy, but revelation. A scene in which he affirms that the humblest observer may be convinced of God’s existence and glory. These things could not have originated in what has been called a “casual hit of atoms,” they must have had a Creator, and the Creator can be no other than an infinite and eternal God.

II. The revelation of God in Scripture. Looking first at the stellar world, and viewing the splendour of a solar day, David confesses his vision of God is incomplete, and so he affirms the Infinite to come nearer to man than in the stars, and making Himself better known in “the law,” “the testimony,” “the statutes,” “the Commandments,” and in the providences which play around him. The term “law” may refer to the “preceptive portions of Scripture”; “testimonies” may mean doctrines; “statutes,” ordinances and forms of worship; “commandments” are directions to duty; “fear” indicates anxiety to please God; and “judgments” are God’s record or declaration of the results of unforgiven sin. But all these terms may be gathered up as referring to the body of Scripture, revelations which have been made either by voice, or vision, or inspiration in any form. The writer’s purpose was to indicate the excellent properties and purposes of Scripture, including precept, promise, and perfect rules of life. Calling this revelation the “statutes of God,” the idea evidently is of something binding on universal man. Calling it “the fear of the Lord” seems to refer to that filial affection which reigns in a human heart, making man ashamed of sin, and becoming for him a cleansing power. “Judgments of the Lord” is a comprehensive phrase, summing up the substance and object of Scripture.

III. The law, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear, and judgments of the Lord tested. Put them to the test of personal experience. This shall prove whether or no the claim of the Psalmist has warrant in the lives of men. There never was a man who received the law of God into his heart and obeyed it who did not become a “new man,” enriched thereby beyond all measurement or estimate. (Justin E. Twitchell.)

God’s glory in the skies

The immediate outlook upon nature is independent of scientific elaboration. It is unalterable by intellectual mutations and advances; it rests on those permanent relations which hold between the soul of man within and the world without. But the whole stress of the Psalm is laid on that aspect of the natural world which it is the work of science to emphasise and to extricate. What the Psalmist sees is the manifestation of law, of regularity, of reason. There is about it all, as the mighty drama discloses itself, the calmness, the majesty, of rational knowledge. The awful silence in which the tremendous scene proceeds is more eloquent than words. Dumb in the vault, yet filled with voices that toll in our ears, voices that cry without a language, and assure us of that eternal consciousness which possesses the entire round of the heavens, whose rule and line goeth out throughout all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. Universal law acting in silence, with absolute security of rhythm. The mystic eloquence of law. That is the vision which overawes the Psalmist; and is not that the very essence of our scientific presentation of nature? Law acting in silence, that is nature as science discloses it. Silent as it may be, this perfect law, this undeviating order, this calm precision, this infinite regularity of succession, this steady certainty of movement, this unbroken universality, these disciplined forces, this rhythmic harmony, this balance, this precaution, this response of day to night, and night to night, that is intelligence, that is reason, that is consciousness, that is speech! No one can face it in its wholeness, part answering to part, and each to all, without becoming aware of its mystic eloquence. It all speaks, speaks as it works, speaks without a language, speaks without a sound. The Psalmist has but to lift his eyes, and then above it, allied to it, a corresponding world opens out,--a world, too, of law, of certainty, of regularity, of order, no less than the world of nature. Here, too, all is sane, rational, secure, quiet, and sure, as the silent stars in the night. This higher order of life moves along the course set before it, and its laws never flag or fail; no chance confuses it, and no unruly accident disturbs it. This world is the world of consciousness, the world of the moral law, the world of the religious spirit, the world of the fear of the Lord. Laws, statutes, testimonies, commandments,--no physical world could be based on grounds more fixed and uniform and sure. Everywhere precision, everywhere unalterable rigour--that is what delights him. Error, wrong, sin--these may be on his own side, but this does not shake the absolute authority of this reign of law without him. Only, it makes him tremble, lest even unwittingly he may have introduced any quiver of disturbance into this fabric of exquisite and harmonious order. Who can tell how oft he offendeth? “Oh, cleanse Thou me from secret faults.” Can we recover at all for ourselves this mental temper of the Psalmist? This world of which he is speaking is what we name spiritual, religious, supernatural, and as soon as we have touched such names as these we recall something wholly unlike nature, wholly opposed to scientific law and the necessities of reason. Yet veracity, regularity, universality, these are the very notes of the Divine action in both spheres, and in both, therefore, there is the same ground for reason to work upon. Nature will enable us to understand the supernatural. Our faith in Christ Jesus lays large and unfaltering trust in the veracity of human faculties, in the solidity of knowledge, in the reality of an instructed and intelligent experience. Base your belief in Jesus on the convictions that form the ground of your confidence in the stability and reality of life. (Canon Scott Holland.)

The moral law and the starry heavens

“Two things,” said Kant, “fill the soul with awe and wonder: the starry heaven above, and the moral law within.” How many of us have felt this amazement without expressing it! Approach man from a material point of view, and he is utterly insignificant; but view him from a spiritual point of view, and how wonderful is he! That strange faculty within him which witnesses to a law above himself, which speaks to him of the right even when he is yielding to the wrong, which enables him to hold communion with infinite perfection, which gives meaning to such words as “trust,” “duty,” “obedience,” “religion,” that faculty which perpetuates in him the image of his Maker; whence did it come? “Yes,” said Pascal, “man is a worm, but then he is a worm that thinks.” This is exactly the mystery which filled a mind so powerful as that of Kant. To see no mystery in man and his spiritual nature is a sure mark of a shallow and second-rate mind. What is the thought which the contemplation of the heavenly bodies presents to us most prominently? Is it not order or “law”? But how about the spiritual world? Are there laws for mind as well as for body? Is there not an order in moral things which cannot be violated with impunity? The Kingdom of Heaven is a reign of law too. One order alike for the material and the moral. The law of the material world we reach through observation and generalisation; the law of the soul through God’s revelations of Himself to man’s spiritual nature, but both are alike of God, and not two laws but one. How pure, elevating, and ennobling was the writer’s conception of true religion. (J. A. Jacob, M. A.)

God’s works and Word

Every varying mood of nature is an index finger to the power and glory of the Creator. His works lie open beside His Word,--the one a volume of illustrations, the other a book of inspired principles. In the 19th Psalm these double volumes of revelation are bound together. There is both a world book and a word book in the Psalmist’s thought. Both are bearing eternal witness to the Creator.

I. The witness of the heavens. In the clear dry air of the East the heavens shine with a strange brilliancy. To the reverent soul of David, the stars in their courses and the moon in her phases were nightly lessons of wonder and of God. To the Psalmist’s eye the whole firmament was written over, and the whole universe was resonant to his ear with the name of God. And to the eyes of this devout shepherd, this witness of creation to its Creator was continuous. And yet this witness of the heavens is silent. It is their silence which puts such terrible emphasis upon the testimony of the heavens; for silence is the great law of the universe. This witness is also universal in its reach and influence. The stars preach a gospel of Divine law and power, before which worshippers of all races and generations have kneeled in reverence and awe. But man, made in the likeness of God, is not measured by physical, but by moral standards. The moral law written upon conscience and soul has brought man into fellowship with the Infinite, and there follows that sharp transition in thought which cuts this Psalm like the keen stroke of a knife when David remembers the glory of God’s law. Grander than that of the heavens is--

II. The witness of the moral law. In this sudden rebound from the glory of the sun to the greater glory of the truth the Psalmist seems to chide himself for having forgotten the greater in the less. For what the sun is in the natural world, bringing light and inspiring growth, the law of God is in the spiritual, revealing moral darkness and quickening the life of souls. Climbing up adjectives of admiring descriptions, David unfolds the nature of the Word of Jehovah. It is “perfect,” with a completeness which fits all needs and encompasses all souls. It is “sure,”--an eternal verity to which men may anchor and never drift. It is “right,” with an absolute rectitude and justice. This Divine law not only reveals the glory of Jehovah, but also--

III. It reveals the heart of man. Without the revelation of the mirror man is a stranger to his own face; without the revelation of God’s law we were strangers to the guilt of sin. For the law lays a man bare to himself. Gather up the lesson of the Psalm--

1. That there is no conflict between God’s works and God’s Word. There may be conflict between the flippant guesses of men and the “Thus saith the Lord” in the Book. But the world book and the word book are one and the same truth.

2. The Psalm reveals the vastness and variety of the witnesses which God has put about us. The heathen of all lands have deified the forces of nature and the planets of the sky, and worshipped. Such witness is ours, but supplemented by the written Word, the enlightened conscience, the civilised state, and the Christian Church. (Monday Club Sermons.)

The revelation in nature

Modern poets are never tired of dwelling on the beauties of nature. The Hebrew poet perceived these just as keenly, but he never set them forth for their own sake. He considered them only as they bear on our moral and spiritual relations with God, or as they illustrate the being and glory of the Most High. So it is here, The first line sets forth the continuous action of the transparent vault which arches over the earth. Its order and beauty and splendour are not the work of chance or the product of blind unconscious forces, but bear willing witness to the perfections of the one Supreme Creator. He made them, and they are forever telling the story of His unsearchable riches. There is no pause, no interruption in the testimony. Day after day, night after night, the unbroken succession goes on. It is poured out as from a copious, gushing fountain. The sentiment is as true as it is poetical. In every age and land the starry heavens have proclaimed to the thoughtful observer: “It is He that hath made us.” The fact that this is done without the use of articulate language, so far from weakening the testimony makes it stronger. A modern critic coolly expunges this couplet on the ground that it is prosaic and that it directly contradicts the preceding verse, whereas it is a fine statement of the fact that words are not literally used; and there is no more contradiction in it than in the common proverb, “Actions speak louder than words.” The heavens “have a voice, but it is one that speaks not to the ear but to the devout and understanding heart,” as Addison has well expressed it in the well-known stanzas, according to which the radiant orbs, though they move in solemn silence, still in reason’s ear rejoice. In the next couplet the poet proceeds further. Not only is the testimony of the heavens distinct and clear and unbroken, but it is also universal. Their “line” means their measuring line, for this is the established meaning of the word, and there is neither need nor justification for changing the text. The province of these witnesses for God is co-extensive with the earth. Everywhere the heavens compass the globe, and “everywhere they preach the same Divine sermon.” In the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 10:18) the Apostle employs these words to express the wide diffusion of the Gospel among the Gentiles, and its freedom from all national or ecclesiastical restrictions. As Hengstenberg well says, “The universal revelation of God in nature was a providential prediction of the universal proclamation of the Gospel.” The Apostle says their “sound” instead of their “line,” because he followed the Septuagint version. The sense is, of course, the same. In Paul’s day the Gospel occupied the central position in the Roman world: it is for Christians now to make it actually as universal as the witness of the heavens. To carry still further forward the figure, the sun is introduced because his apparent course indicates clearly the width of the domain covered by the testimony of the heavens. In them is his position. All talk of sun gods in this connection is simple folly. David is not reciting mythology, but writing poetry. In this view he compares the bright reappearance of the morning sun to that of a bridegroom coming forth from the nuptial apartment, and his steady ongoing through the skies to the rapid course of a hero on his joyful way to the goal of victory. Nothing can be more striking than these figures. The king of day starts from one end of heaven and never pauses till he reaches the other, and his presence is one that can be felt as well as seen, for nothing can hide itself from his heat. Here comes a quick transition from God’s revelation of Himself in nature to the similar revelation in the written Word. Its abruptness is quite excusable in view of the analogy, the law being in the spiritual world what the sun is in the natural. (Talbot W. Chambers, D. D.)

God’s works and Word

The Bible recognises no conflict between science and religion. It asserts a unity of origin for the Word and the world. Faith takes God’s word; science takes man’s. But

“Science walks with humble feet

To seek the God that faith has found.”

I. That the Bible nowhere contradicts established science.

This is an amazing statement, for the Bible was written by unlearned men. Every truth of today has been opposed by men, not by Scripture. No doubt the Bible often speaks of things as they appear to the eye, as sunrise and sunset. But these are not contradictions to science.

II. The Bible always has been, and is yet, far in advance of the discoveries of science. Ere science discovered the order of progress in the developed world, or that the strata of the earth were formed by the action of water, and that the mountains were once under the sea; or that the earth was a sphere; or that the earth was upheld by no visible support; or that the stars were innumerable; or that light makes music as it flies; or that the sun had an orbit of its own--the Bible had said all these things. The Word is as full of undiscovered wisdom as the world.

III. Very few scientific men recognise any antagonism between the revelation by word and that by works. The American Association for the Advancement of Science embraces the great names in this country. At its last meeting it was found that seven-eighths of these were professing Christians. The greatest of them see God in nature today.

IV. Nature is a universal revelation of God, but of the lowest kind. The heavens so declare the glory of God that even a heathen savage is without excuse if he do not discern God. The law of the Lord is the next higher revelation. See what is here said of it. But the highest revelation is Christ. He brings life and love to light; reveals a greater power in spiritual realms than gravitation is in material realms. But all revelations are one and of one God. (Bishop R. W. Warren.)

The revelation of the prophecy of the heavens

I. The heaven’s a revelation of God. They show God’s character, as all works show character. The fault has been in men if they have not apprehended the declaration of the heavens. Paul said it could be “clearly seen.” This revelation is--

1. Ceaseless.

2. Wordless. The Hebrew rightly rendered reads--“No speech nor language; their voice is not heard.” That is, they utter no articulate words.

3. Universal. “Their line”--the measuring line used for the determining the boundaries of estates--takes in the whole earth; throughout this vast territory the signs which proclaim God are found.

II. This revelation a prophecy of that of the Gospel. For it also is universal. Hence Paul quotes this Psalm. But how came Paul to see this meaning in David’s words? Because the heavens are Christ’s handiwork. “Without Him was nothing made that was made.” And they manifest and declare Him. It is plain, therefore, that if He thus send His heavens to proclaim Him through all lands, and to sing His praise, much more will He desire that the Gospel of His grace by which far more glory will be His should be known far and wide, to the ends of the earth, that none may be hid from its saving light and heat. What a teacher, then, we have in the heavens. They sing to us of God, and of God in Christ. They declare the glory of Him whom not having seen we love. (Samuel Cox, D. D.)

God’s two great preachers

I. Nature as a preacher. It continues its eloquent discourse from age to age, and its aim in all is to draw the mind of man from the visible to the invisible, from the material to the spiritual, from itself to universal being.

II. The Bible as a preacher. This preacher is called by different names, “law,” “testimony,” “statutes,” “commandments,” “fear of the Lord,” “judgments of the Lord.”

1. The character of this preacher. Perfect, established, righteous, holy, thoroughly sound, precious.

2. The work of this preacher.

The Psalmist prays against sin, and he prays for holiness. The text implies three facts concerning human words and thoughts--

1. That God takes cognisance of them.

2. That God is pleased with right words and thoughts.

3. That God aids man in the promotion of right words and thoughts. (Homilist.)

Nature a preacher

Five subjects for thought.

I. The subject of the discourse. “The glory of God.” Nature proclaims God’s existence, government, and attributes.

1. The fact of nature reveals the being of God.

2. The vastness of nature, the immensity of God.

3. The uniformity of nature, the unity of God.

4. The regularity of nature, the unchangeableness of God.

5. The arrangements of nature, the wisdom of God.

6. The happiness of nature, the goodness of God.

7. The purity of nature, the holiness of God.

8. The beauty of nature, the tastefulness of God.

9. The variety of nature, the exhaustlessness of God.

II. The incessantness of its delivery. Nature as a preacher never tires, never pauses. Whilst generations come and go, this great preacher continues his sublime discourse without a break or pause.

III. The intelligibleness of its language. Its language is that of symbol; the easiest language for man to understand. A language of signs, addressed to eye and heart. So intelligible is the language that there is no excuse for ignorance of God.

IV. The vastness of its audience. Their “line”--that is, their instruction. All men live under those heavens, all of which are vocal with discourse of God.

V. The immensity of its resources.

1. The greatest light dwells in the heart of this preacher.

2. The greatest light circulates through the whole being of this preacher. From the subject learn--

Nature in Scripture

The scientific contemplation of nature is wholly absent from Scripture, and the picturesque is very rare. This Psalmist knew nothing about solar spectra, or stellar distances, but he heard a voice from out of the else waste heavens which sounded to him as if it named God. Comte ventured to say that the heavens declare the glory of the astronomer, not of God; but if there be an order in them, which it is a man’s glory to discover, must there not be a mind behind the order, and must not the Maker have more glory than the investigator? The Psalmist is protesting against stellar worship, which some of his neighbours practised. The sun was a creature, not a god; his “race” was marked out by the same hand which in depths beyond the visible heavens had pitched a “tent” for his nightly rest. We smile at the simple astronomy; the religious depth is as deep as ever. Dull ears do not hear these voices; but whether they are stopped with the clay of earthly tastes and occupations, or stuffed with scientific wadding of the most modern kind, the ears that do not hear God’s name sounded from the abysses above have failed to hear the only word which can make man feel at home in nature. Carlyle said that the sky was a “sad sight.” The sadness and awfulness are taken away when we hear the heavens telling the glory of God. The unscientific Psalmist who did hear them was nearer the very heart of the mystery than the scientist who knows everything else about them but that. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

God revealed in nature

Is the picture to be accepted as a revelation of the artist’s genius? Is the poem to be regarded as a test of the poet’s mental power? Then carry this rule with you in all your contemplations of the universe--as you walk beneath the dome of heaven, as you tremble in the shadows of the everlasting hills, as you rise into rapture while gazing on the swelling grandeur of the great deep and feel yourself wrapt in the presence of God. The universe is the thought of God made visible. (R. Venting.)

God seen in nature

The immortal Newton exclaimed, “Glory to God, who has permitted me to catch a glimpse of the skirts of His garments. My calculations have encountered the march of the stars.” So sang Copernicus, Volta, Galileo, and Kepler. How truly did Young write, “the undevout astronomer is mad.”

The firmament sheweth His handiwork.--

The comet and its teachings

Not often during the lifetime of a generation does a comet present itself. Give thought to the bright vision which no doubt engages the attention of other worlds beside our own, and on which the gaze of the unfallen inhabitants of celestial spheres may be fixed in reverent admiration.

1. Notice its beauty. In the exhaustless provision which God has made for our love of the beautiful we recognise an assurance that He regards with yet tenderer care our far deeper longings, the moral wants of our souls. 2, As we gain from science a knowledge of the movements of the comet we are impressed with the supremacy of law. No portion of the universe is more completely under the control of law than these comets, which were once supposed to be so erratic. Whatever is within the attraction of the sun moves upon one of three curves. As soon as a sufficient portion of the course of any body is known its whole curve can be ascertained. It is to the universal supremacy of law that all the achievements of science have been due. The supremacy of physical is a guarantee for the authority and permanence of moral law. The same Being who has established the one has pledged His veracity to the maintenance of the other.

3. Further knowledge of this comet impresses us with the magnitude of the universe. How numberless are the bodies inhabiting the measureless expanse. Of these worlds, is it likely that ours alone is inhabited?

4. Viewed in the light of these considerations, how insignificant does the world appear! And how insignificant is man! It is his soul alone that gives him dignity in the scale of being.

5. What a conception does a just view of the universe give us of the greatness and dignity of God! Who can escape His eye? Who can defy His power?

6. How great is the Divine condescension, especially as manifested in the atonement! (H. L. Wayland.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 19:1". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible




This magnificent psalm naturally falls into two divisions. "Psalms 19:1-6 describe the glory of God as seen in the heavenly bodies, especially the sun ... Psalms 19:7-14 deal with the excellence of the revelation of God in the Law."[1] Spurgeon called this psalm, "The World Book and the Word Book," both of them having been written by The Father.[2]

"Ordinarily a hymn begins with a summons to raise a song of praise to the Lord; but here it is omitted; because the hymn began aeons ago when, `The morning stars sang together,' (Job 38:7) at the time of creation";[3] and the praise of God has continued without intermission throughout all ages and to the present time; nor shall it ever cease.

The Authorized Version is here superior to anything that has been offered in its place, as we shall observe in the following notes.

Psalms 19:1-4

"The heavens declare the glory of God;

And the firmament showeth his handiwork.

Day unto day uttereth speech,

And night unto night showeth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language;

Their voice is not heard

Their line is gone out through all the earth,

And their words to the end of the world."

We cannot accept this rendition of Psalms 19:3, to the effect, as Rawlinson put it, that, "There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard."[4]

The King James Version here has the following:

"There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard." (Note that the word where is added).

What is taught here is not that the heavens are speechless, or that there are no words, or no sound; but that there are no human beings of whatever language which are beyond the reach of the glorious message thundering in the ears of all men from the starry heavens themselves. In other words, "There are no men anywhere on earth, regardless of what language they use, who are beyond the reach of what the heavens are continually saying in the ears of all men."

If this observation is not correct, let someone explain what is meant in Psalms 19:4, "Their line is gone out through all the earth; and their words to the end of the world."

"Their line is gone out through all the earth" (Psalms 19:4). The Anchor Bible renders the word "line" in this place as "call," indicating some kind of a summons or declaration that would necessarily involve "sound" and "words."

Oh yes, this writer is aware that no actual words or sounds are used; but that is simply not what the psalmist is saying here. He is declaring that the heavenly world is indeed delivering a message to mankind, regardless of where they live or what language they speak.

That our analysis here is correct is borne out by the fact that the Septuagint (LXX) renders the word "line" in Psalms 19:4 as "sound," and also agrees with the KJV in using "words" in the second line. The inspired apostle Paul quoted this place; and how did he render it?

"Their sound went out into all the earth,

And their words to the end of the world."

- Romans 10:18.SIZE>

Yes indeed, the message of the sidereal heavens may easily be reduced to words (in whatever language); and what do they say?

The invisible things of Him (God) since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse (Romans 1:20).

The glory, power, and divinity of God are clearly taught by the marvel of Creation itself; and Paul declared that men are without excuse who refuse to see the "power and divinity of God" which is continually being shouted in their ears by the whole glorious Creation.

It must be pointed out, however, that there is no moral, ethical, or soul-saving revelation to be found in the World Book. The Word Book, namely the Bible, is the only source of that type of revelation.

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The heavens declare the glory of God,.... By which we are to understand not the heavens literally taken, though these with the firmament are the handiworks of God, and do declare the glory of his perfections, especially his wisdom and power; these show that there is a God, and that he is a glorious one: but either Gospel churches, often signified by the kingdom of heaven, in the New Testament; the members of them being heaven-born souls, and the doctrines and ordinances ministered among them being from heaven; and there being a very great resemblance between them and heaven, in the company and communion enjoyed in them; and who declare the glory of the divine perfections, which is very great in the handiwork of their redemption; and who ascribe the glory of their whole salvation to God: or rather the apostles and first preachers of the word, as appears from Romans 10:18; who were set in the highest place in the church; had their commission, doctrine, and success from heaven; and who may be called by this name, because of the purity and solidity of their ministry, and their constancy and steadfastness in it, and because of their heavenly lives and conversations: these declared the glory of the divine perfections; such as those particularly of grace, goodness, and mercy, which are not discoverable by the light of nature or law of Moses, as, they are displayed in the salvation of men by Christ, in the forgiveness of their sins, the justification of their persons, and the gift of eternal life unto them: they taught men to ascribe the glory of salvation to God alone, Father, Son, and Spirit; they set forth in their ministry the glory of Christ, of his person, and of his offices and grace; and they showed that redemption was his handiwork, as follows:

and the firmament showeth his handiwork; for the same persons may be called the firmament, since they that are wise are said to shine as the brightness of it, Daniel 12:3. These were like to stars in it, and were the light of the world, and declared that redemption is the work which Christ undertook, and came into this world to perform, and which he has finished; his hands have wrought it, and his own arm has brought salvation to him. The Targum interprets the heavens and the firmament, of such persons as contemplate the heavens, and look upon the firmament or air; and so do some other Jewish writersF23Jarchi & Kimchi in loc. .

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

"To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David." The a heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

(a) He reproaches man for his ingratitude, seeing the heavens, which are dumb creatures, set forth God's glory.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalm 19:1-14. After exhibiting the harmonious revelation of God‘s perfections made by His works and His word, the Psalmist prays for conformity to the Divine teaching.

the glory of God — is the sum of His perfections (Psalm 24:7-10; Romans 1:20).

firmament — another word for “heavens” (Genesis 1:8).

handyworkold English for “work of His hands.”

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

The heavens — They are as a legible book, wherein he that runs may read it.

The glory — His eternal power and Godhead, his infinite wisdom and goodness.

Firmament — Or, the expansion, all the vast space extended from the earth to the highest heavens, with all its goodly furniture.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.The heavens declare the glory of God. (444) I have already said, that this psalm consists of two parts, in the first of which David celebrates the glory of God as manifested in his works; and, in the other, exalts and magnifies the knowledge of God which shines forth more clearly in his word. He only makes mention of the heavens; but, under this part of creation, which is the noblest, and the excellency of which is more conspicuous, he doubtless includes by synecdoche the whole fabric of the world. There is certainly nothing so obscure or contemptible, even in the smallest corners of the earth, in which some marks of the power and wisdom of God may not be seen; but as a more distinct image of him is engraven on the heavens, David has particularly selected them for contemplation, that their splendor might lead us to contemplate all parts of the world. When a man, from beholding and contemplating the heavens, has been brought to acknowledge God, he will learn also to reflect upon and to admire his wisdom and power as displayed on the face of the earth, not only in general, but even in the minutest plants. In the first verse, the Psalmist repeats one thing twice, according to his usual manner. He introduces the heavens as witnesses and preachers of the glory of God, attributing to the dumb creature a quality which, strictly speaking, does not belong to it, in order the more severely to upbraid men for their ingratitude, if they should pass over so clear a testimony with unheeding ears. This manner of speaking more powerfully moves and affects us than if he had said, The heavens show or manifest the glory of God. It is indeed a great thing, that in the splendor of the heavens there is presented to our view a lively image of God; but, as the living voice has a greater effect in exciting our attention, or at least teaches us more surely and with greater profit than simple beholding, to which no oral instruction is added, we ought to mark the force of the figure which the Psalmist uses when he says, that the heavens by their preaching declare the glory of God.

The repetition which he makes in the second clause is merely an explanation of the first. David shows how it is that the heavens proclaim to us the glory of God, namely, by openly bearing testimony that they have not been put together by chance, but were wonderfully created by the supreme Architect. When we behold the heavens, we cannot but be elevated, by the contemplation of them, to Him who is their great Creator; and the beautiful arrangement and wonderful variety which distinguish the courses and station of the heavenly bodies, together with the beauty and splendor which are manifest in them, cannot but furnish us with an evident proof of his providence. Scripture, indeed, makes known to us the time and manner of the creation; but the heavens themselves, although God should say nothing on the subject, proclaim loudly and distinctly enough that they have been fashioned by his hands: and this of itself abundantly suffices to bear testimony to men of his glory. As soon as we acknowledge God to be the supreme Architect, who has erected the beauteous fabric of the universe, our minds must necessarily be ravished with wonder at his infinite goodness, wisdom, and power.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 19:1 « To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. » The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

The heavens declare the glory of God] The world, saitb Clement of Alexandria, is Dei Scriptura, the first Bible that God made for the institution of man. The heavens (here instanced as a chief part of that Mundi totius machina) are compared to a scroll that is written, Revelation 6:14. As in a horn book, which little ones carry, there be letters in a paper within which appear through the same; so, under the blue sapphire of the firmament, is spread a sheet of royal paper written all over with the wisdom and power of God. This book was imprinted, saith one, at the New Jerusalem, by the finger of Jehovah, and is not to be sold, but to be seen, at the sign of glory, of every one that lifts up his eyes to heaven; where he may plainly perceive Deum esse mentem, architectricem, intelligentem, sapientem, potentem, &c. This lesson is fairly lined out unto us in the brows of the firmament, which, therefore, we are bidden to behold and discern; since therein God hath made himself visible, yea, legible, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that men are left without excuse, Romans 1:20. But because this book of nature (with its three great leaves, heaven, earth, and sea), though never so diligently read over, cannot bring a man to the saving knowledge of God in Christ, nor make him perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works, behold another and better Book, even that of the Holy Scriptures, set forth, Psalms 19:7-8, &c., of this psalm, that like as where the philosopher endeth the physician beginneth; so, where nature faileth us, Scripture may inform and comfort us. In this excellent psalm, then, we have the sum of all true divinity, saith reverend Beza, the end whereof is to give us that knowledge of God, and of his holy worship, whereby we may be made partakers of eternal life. Here, then, in the six first verses the prophet showeth that God manifesteth his glory to mankind by his works; and, first, by the work of creation, Psalms 19:1; next, of government, Psalms 19:2-3, &c., and that, 1. In the revolution of the starry sky, which revolution, first, causeth a perpetual vicissitude of days and nights, and so declareth the glory of God. 2. It bespeaketh all people at once, as a catholic preacher of God’s glory, Psalms 19:4-5. Secondly, in the constant course of the sun (that common servant, as his name importeth), Psalms 19:4, who, with his motion, Psalms 19:5, enlighteneth all things with his light, and pierceth all things with his heat, Psalms 19:6. Thus "the heavens declare the glory of God"; that is, they yield matter and occasion of glorifying him, according to that, Psalms 145:10, "All thy works praise thee, O Lord; but thy saints bless thee." Some philosophers, and with them some Rabbis (Maimonides), have deemed, or rather doted, that the heaven was a living creature, and did actually praise and serve God. But this conceit is exploded by the wiser sort; and that axiom maintained, Formica coelos dignitate superat, An ant, because a living creature, is more excellent than the whole visible heavens. As for the saints and servants of God, it is truly affirmed by divines that there is not so much of the glory of God in all his works of creation and providence as in one gracious action that they perform.

And the firmament showeth his handywork] The expanse or outspread firmament. It is taken both for the air, Genesis 1:6, and for the sky, Genesis 1:14, the whole cope of heaven, which showeth, Quam eleganter et ad amussim operetur Deus manibus suis; how neatly and exactly God worketh with his hands, which are attributed to him for our weakness’ sake (Vatablus).

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 19.

The creatures shew God's glory; the word, his grace. David prayeth for grace.

To the chief musician, A Psalm of David.

Title. לדוד מזמור למנצח lamnatseach mizmor ledavid. The author in this Psalm, as in many other places, considers the works of nature, and the words of revelation, as both of them laws of the same hand, and standing firm by the same authority; both highly perfect in their kind, and containing great matter of instruction; one for the whole world, the other for God's people, and himself particularly. Mudge. The piety of this Psalm, says Bishop Sherlock, is so natural, and yet so exalted, so easy to be understood, and so adapted to move the affections, that it is hardly possible to read it with any attention, without feeling something of the same spirit by which it was indited. The holy king begins with the works of the creation, to magnify the power and wisdom of the Creator: they are a perpetual instruction to mankind; every day and every night speak his goodness, and by their regular and constant vicissitude set forth the excellency of wisdom by which they are ordered. This book of nature is written in every language, and lies open to all the world: The works of the creation speak in the common voice of reason, and want no interpreter to explain their meaning; but are to be understood by people of all languages upon the face of the earth. From these works in general, he singles out one, to stand as a testimony of the power of his Maker: The sun is the great spirit of the world, the life which animates these lower parts: How constant and unwearied in his course! how large his circuit, to impart light and genial heat to every dark corner of the earth! He is as a bridegroom, &c.

Psalms 19:1. The heavens declare Tell, or preach, according to the force of the Hebrew. This language of the heavens is so plain, and their characters are so legible, that all, even the most barbarous nations, who have no skill either in languages or letters, are able to understand and read what they proclaim. What can be so plain and so clear, says Tully, as when we behold the heavens, and view the heavenly bodies, that we should conclude there is some deity, of a most excellent mind, by whom these things are governed? A present and Almighty God? which he who doubts of, I do not understand why he should not as well doubt whether or no there be a sun that shines. See De Nat. Deor. lib. 2: cap. 2 and Derham's Astro-Theology, at the beginning.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


We have here another hymn, if not to the victories of Jesus in the works of grace, yet to his glory as manifested in the works of creation, and in the gospel of his salvation. In the former part, the wonders of God's power, as displayed in the creation of the heavenly bodies; in the latter, the still more marvellous power as set forth in the new creation of the soul.

To the chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

Psalms 19:1

The book of God in creation, which the heavens open to the world; so full and plainly demonstrates his Godhead, that, as the apostle speaks, the invisible things of God are clearly seen by the things, which he hath made, even his eternal power and Godhead. Romans 1:19. They most evidently prove a first cause, since they could not create themselves, nor have existed from eternity.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible



The design of this Psalm is to adore and magnify the name of God, for the discovery of his wisdom, and power, and goodness, both by his great and glorious works of creation and providence, and especially by his word and the Holy Scripture; which he prefers before the former.

The heavens declare the glory of God, Psalms 19:1. So do night and day, Psalms 19:2,3, and the sun, Psalms 19:4-6. The perfection, purity, and extent of God’s law; its effects, Psalms 19:7-12. He prayeth against presumptuous sins, Psalms 19:13.

The heavens; these visible heavens, so vast and spacious, richly adorned with stars, so various and admirable in their course or station, so useful and powerful in their influences.

Declare; not properly, but objectively, as the earth, and trees, and stars are said to speak, Job 12:8 38:7 Isaiah 55:12; they demonstrate or make it evident and undeniable to all men of sense or reason; they are as a most legible book, wherein even he that runs may read it.

The glory of God, i.e. his glorious being or existence, his eternal power and Godhead, as it is particularly expressed, Romans 1:20; his infinite wisdom and goodness; all which are so visible in them, that it is ridiculous to deny or doubt of them, as it is esteemed ridiculous to think of far meaner works of art, as a house or a book, &c., that they were made without an artist, or without a hand.

The firmament; or, the expansion, i.e. all this vast space extended from the earth to the highest heavens, with all its goodly furniture, the same thing which he called heavens.

Showeth his handywork; the excellency of the work discovers who was the author of it, that it did not come by chance, nor spring of itself, but was made by the Lord God Almighty.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1. The heavens declare—Publish, with the adsignification of praise; they celebrate, as the word often denotes.

Glory of God—The moral excellence of his nature. Numbers 14:20-21; John 11:40.

Firmament—The Hebrew רקיע, (rakeea,) firmament, comes from רקע, (raka,) to spread out. In the Old Testament the noun has the sense of expanse, and also of firmness, steadfastness. The latter idea comes to us through the Septuagint, στερεωμα, and the Vulgate firmamentum. It occurs once in New Testament, Colossians 2:5, and is rendered steadfastness. The idea of firmness is phenomenal, because the sky, as an arch, appears to support the celestial bodies. Job 37:18. The Hebrews had no accurate knowledge of celestial distances, and the firmament, with them, sometimes meant atmosphere, (Genesis 1:6-7,) and at others, as in the text, the region of the planets and stars. Genesis 1:14; Daniel 12:3. The Hebrew idea of rakeea embraces the notions of extension and regularity, and as Girdlestone says, (Hebrew Synonymes, page 424,) “It is clear that the ideas of heaven presented to the Jew by the Bible are singularly in accordance with the views entertained by students of modern astronomy.”

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

This verse is a summary statement. The "heavens" refers to what appears in the sky above us. The "firmament" or "sky" is the canopy that seems to cover the earth from our vantage point as we look up. It is a synonym for "heavens" (synonymous parallelism). The glory of God in this context points to the splendor of the Creator. As we look up, we see the amazing handiwork of God.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 19:1. The heavens, &c. — To magnify the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator, the psalmist begins with the works of creation, and, amidst the immensity of them, singles out those which are most conspicuous, grand, and striking, and best adapted to impress the mind of his reader with a sense of the infinite greatness and majesty of God, and to beget in him a solemn awe of, and veneration for, his matchless glories. The heavens — That is, the visible heavens, so vast and spacious, and richly adorned with stars and planets, so various and admirable in their courses or stations; so useful and powerful in their influences; declare the glory of God — His glorious being or existence, his eternal power and Godhead, as it is expressed, Romans 1:20; his infinite wisdom and goodness; all which they demonstrate, and make so visible and evident to all men of reason and consideration, that it is ridiculous to deny or doubt of them, as it is ridiculous to think of far meaner works of art, as suppose of houses, clocks, or watches, that they were made without an artist, or without a hand. The Hebrew, מספרים, mesapperim, is literally, they tell, or, preach, the glory of God. And this language of the heavens is so plain, and their characters are so legible, that all, even the most barbarous nations, that have no skill either in languages or letters, are able to understand and read what they declare. The firmament — Or, the expansion, all the vast space extending from the earth to the starry heavens, and especially the atmosphere, comprehending that fluid mixture of light, air, and vapours, which is everywhere diffused about us; and to the influences of which are owing all the beauty and fruitfulness of the earth, and all vegetable and animal life: all these by their manifold and beneficial operations, as well as by their beauty and magnificence, show his handiwork — As Creator, Preserver, and Governor. The excellence of the work discovers who was the author of it, that it did not come by chance, nor spring of itself, but was made by a Being of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

David. This psalm was to be sung when he or his successors went to battle. In a higher sense, it may allude to the victories of Christ, and of his Church. (Berthier) --- Christian must offer up this prayer for their governors. (Worthington) --- It was probably composed when the Ammonites and Syrians made such great preparations for war, ver. 8., and 2 Kings x. 6, 18. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

To the chief Musician. See App-64. The changes from 2Samuel 22 were made when David handed the Psalm over for general use in public worship. The position of this Psalm in the Structure (p. 721) shows that it corresponds with, Psa 29, with its two answering parts, the "Glory" and the "Voice" of Jehovah. The verbs in the first part (1-6) are literary, and in the second part astronomical, thus interlacing and uniting the two parts in one whole.

Title. A Psalm of David. One Psalm: one whole, not two odd scraps strung together by some late "redactor". See App-65.

declare = rehearse (the Piel part, implying repetition. Compare Psalms 71:15. Genesis 24:66. Figure of speech Prosopopoeia. App-6.

GOD. Hebrew El. App-4.

firmament = expanse.

sheweth = is setting forth. Compare first occurrence (Genesis 3:11. Psalms 97:6; Psalms 111:6).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Psalms 19:1-14.-The book of nature (Psalms 19:1-6), and that of Revelation (Psalms 19:7-10), alike have as their theme the glory of God. From Revelation come the warning and reward, with which in view David prays to be cleansed from secret faults, and kept from presumptuous sins, and that this psalm of the mouth, and of the heart too, may be accepted by his Redeemer (Psalms 19:11-14). God's name is 'Eel (Hebrew #410), the Creator in the first part (Psalms 19:1-6); Yahweh (Hebrew #3068) in the second (Psalms 19:7-14). His glory as Creator is but the stepping-stone to introduce His still more lovely perfections in Revelation, and so to lead us to pray for acceptance with Him.

The heavens declare the glory of God. David might have drawn his illustration of God's glorious power from His works on earth; but he prefers the heavens, because these are unsullied by the sin which defiles this lower world; also, because the light that shines from them-the sun especially-enables us to see all the other visible works of God.

And the firmament showeth his handywork. The Hebrew for "firmament" [ haaraaqiya` (Hebrew #7549)] is only found once again in the Psalms, and points back to the history of creation. In Genesis 1:6 the word is first found, not meaning as the Septuagint translate it, and as the word "firmament" itself expresses, a solid vault, in accordance with the false philosophy of the Greeks of Alexandria in that day, but an 'expanse' [from raaqa` (Hebrew #7554), to expand].

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
&) A Psalm. It is uncertain when this highly finished and beautiful ode was composed; though some think it was written by David in the wilderness when persecuted by Saul.
The heavens
8:3; 33:6; 115:16; 148:3,4; Isaiah 40:22-26; Jeremiah 10:11,12; Romans 1:19,20
the firmament
Rakeeâ, from rakâ, to stretch out, the expanse, not only containing the celestial bodies, but also the air, light, rain, dews, etc., all of which display the infinite power and wisdom of their Almighty Creator.
150:1,2; Genesis 1:6-8,14,15; Daniel 12:3

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Ver. 1. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth His handiwork. Calvin: "There is nothing certainly in the smallest corners of the earth so dark and despicable that some traces of Divine power and wisdom are not discernible therein; but because a more expressive image is imprinted in the heavens, David made principal choice of these, in order that their glory might lead us to the contemplation of the whole world. For if any one has recognised God from the contemplation of the heavens, he cannot fail also to recognise and admire His wisdom in the smallest plants." In the East, the consideration of the heavens is peculiarly adapted to give a deep impression of the greatness of God as Creator. When C. Niebuhr, many years after his return from the East, lay in bed under the blindness and exhaustion of old age, "the glittering splendour of the nocturnal Asiatic sky, on which he had so often gazed, imaged itself to his mind in the hours of stillness, or its lofty vault and azure by day, and in this he found his sweetest enjoyment." The heavens and the firmament are personified, and the announcement of the glory of the Creator is attributed to them, which is apprehended in them by the pious mind. This personification is chosen with reference to the actual manifestation of God in the words contained in Psalms 19:7-10. Instead of "the glory of God," Paul, in the passage Romans 1:20, which is based on this here, has "eternal power and Godhead." That the firmament is identical with the heavens, appears from Genesis 1:8. It is the vault of heaven, in which are sun, moon, and stars, Genesis 1:14 ss., the shining witnesses of God's glory; in reference to which He bears the name of Sabaoth, God of hosts. The word, which occurs only once again in the Psalms, Psalms 150:1, points back to the history of creation. Many, as De Wette, render הגיד by, "to praise, to extol," and the expression, מעשה ידיו, "what He can make and do by means of His almightiness and wisdom." Both, however, are inadmissible. The former can only signify announce, show forth, as both the usage and the paral. with ספר, "to relate," show, and מעשה ידיו, only, "the work of His hands." The firmament, whose very existence is a factual announcement of what God has made, testifies, at the same time (since doing proceeds from being), of the Creator, what He is, concerning His glory. It was justly remarked by Venema, that in substance the two members are to be regarded as supplementing one another, q.d., "the heavens make known the work of God's hands, and thereby His glory;" or, "the heavens, as the work of God's hands, make known His glory." So also already Paul, in Romans 1:20, "For the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead."

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 19:1". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

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