Psalm 19.1-4, 7-10:
1 The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the LORD are sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the LORD is pure,
the ordinances of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
In theology, there is a regular debate on the relationship between natural theology and revealed theology. At its simplest, it pertains to how we can know about God. Can we know God through nature? Or do we only know God through revelation? While such theological questions are interesting and important, there is an important spiritual reality that is often masked in this discussion: our life in creation forms our confession in God. When we gather around a meal and give thanks to God for it, our faith in God is determined by what God has created. When Christians gather together at an Easter sunrise service to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the rhythms of creation serve as a testimony to the foundation of our hope. Christian faith lived on the ground is much more complex than the various debates in theological epistemology, for better and worse.
Psalm 19 does not easily fit into the questions of theological epistemology. On the one hand, the heavens do testify to the glory of God. On the other hand, there is no speech or words that are understood, even as the Psalmist then says their voice goes throughout the world. There is a mysterious disclosure of God through creation, which neither leaves us ignorant of the Creator nor lets us really understand the Creator. Reflection on creation may bring about awe, wonder, and a sense of splendor, but like an infant who is satisfied with the mother’s love, we appreciate and recognize in creation what we do not understand.
In the midst of the mystery of God in creation, God’s instruction forms us. Where creation does not speak, God does speak. As the infant grows into a child who can understand and converse in speech with their beloved mother, so too does our infant-like worship of God in and through creation bring us to a place where we can pray to, hear from, and being instructed by God. It isn’t that we leave behind the goodness of creation to some ‘revelation’ apart from the creation, but that in our spiritual maturation, it is the light of God’s Word that teaches us how to live with and appreciate the creation. However, much like those who Paul says reputed themselves to be wise, we may be tempted to raise the creation and our understanding of it above the Creator (Rom 1.19-23); even if we don’t set out an idol and still talk about God, we are tempted to long for the gold and the honey drippings more than God’s Word.
So, our sense of life and survival become tightly bound with the creation and not our dependence upon the Creator; we become lead by our individual experiences of creation rather than the Word of God. So, we find in the cross of Jesus Christ a call to the death to the world for us, the death of our attachments so that we can then be raised to new life in the world, with new sense of dependence upon God our Creator who gives to us our attachments. It is this Word of the Cross that restores our infant-like awe of creation with a dependence upon the God’s instruction to guide us. It is this Word of the Cross that points us to the Spirit poured in our hearts, who leads us into a (re)newed attachment to God and new desires for life in the fruit of the Spirit.