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Seeds of the Kingdom

Creation: Psalm 19

by John Sainsbury

27 October 2022

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The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1, NIV

Have you ever noticed that cows just seem to be chewing continually? It’s as if they have their own version of chewing gum. They don’t, of course! The continual chewing is all part of the process of regurgitation whereby a cow makes the absolute most of the grass they are feeding on by having several goes at it to ensure all the goodness is absorbed and processed in the most effective manner. Watching a field of cows recently made me think there is a lesson in this as to how we might receive all the spiritual nutrients from God’s Word.

Take Psalm 19 for example. This psalm is a wonderful example of a Hebrew form of poetry called ‘parallelism’. This is where the writer, probably King David, uses the technique to say something, then reinforces what he has said by saying it again, but in a slightly different way. Hence verse 1 begins: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’. Then he says: ‘the skies proclaim the work of his hands’ (verse 1). This is essentially the same idea, but expressed differently.

I’ve been reading through the Psalms in recent days, and I have found that recognising this technique has been really helpful. It enables me to somehow grasp the truth of what is being said by allowing me to chew on it twice.

The same pattern is followed in the next verse: ‘Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge’ (verse 2).

The process continues in the next verses: ‘There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world’ (verse 3-4a).

Then comes the final pairing of the first half of the psalm: ‘In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, 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 hidden from its heat’ (verse 4b-6).

The effect of this wonderful poetry is to help us grasp the incredible truth that the psalmist is declaring, but in much more interesting and dynamic way than simply stating facts. By drawing our attention to the skies above in this poetic way, David draws our eyes upwards to the One who spoke the vast expanse of the heavens into being (Genesis 1:16).

I find this really beautiful, and also really challenging. Whatever is happening in your life today, maybe it’s worth taking a moment to simply look up and chew this over: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands!’

John Sainsbury and his wife Sue are part of the leadership team at Ellel Grange. John has served as a church leader for many years, most recently as Lead Pastor of the Garstang Free Methodist Church. He has a passion for seeing many brought into the fulness of life that following Christ brings.


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