The Psalm for this Sunday is one that speaks of the beauty of God’s law—something so precious to the psalmist that it is said to be as sweet as honey and as valuable as gold. Here’s the psalm in its entirety. (I’ve left it in its poetic form, because you can hear its musicality more easily.)
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the LORD are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is pure,
the ordinances of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
I’ve preached from this psalm a couple of times, focusing on the written law, as described in the second half. But today I am struck by the first half of the poem.
Nature speaks of God’s glory even more acutely than does the law. One only has to look at the sky, to hear it voicing beauty, strength, joy and a depth of meaning human words cannot describe.
When I returned from my sabbatical a few weeks ago, I asked members of this congregation to send me photos that described for them Sabbath, meaning, God’s love, peace. Those pictures became a slide show in worship. The photos fell into two categories: people shots and nature shots. There were pictures of children, grandchildren, family, friends, loved ones. And then there were pictures of sunsets, beaches, wild and domestic animals, ice storms, streams, forests.
No matter what words I said in my sermon that day, what people will remember is how God’s word was preached through the beauty of faces and the glory of nature.
This is what the psalmist knew, and what we all know instinctively. Yes, the words of our faith are important, essential. But the creation also voices, through wonder too deep for words, the peace, rest, joy and strength of the Creator.
Today take a look out the window or a walk around the block. Breathe in the voice of nature, and let it speak the truths of the universe to your soul. It may leave you speechless.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2011