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How Do the Heavens Declare the Glory of God?

When Psalm 19:1 says "the heavens declare the glory of God," is he talking about the afterlife or something we can experience right now?

Contributing Writer
Sep 07, 2022
How Do the Heavens Declare the Glory of God?

Humanity has yet to comprehend the mysteries of the cosmos, but from the moment we’re old enough to turn our gaze upward, we’re drawn to the expanse as if the universe has something to tell us. And it does. The heavens declare the Glory of God.

Where Does the Bible Say the Heavens Declare the Glory of God?

The opening lines of Psalm 19 read like poetry, but each successive era sheds new light on David’s simple worship song. The more we discover about mysteries of space and time, the more we recognize the infinite value of the One who created all things. Long before scientists began exploring the universe, a simple shepherd boy, ordained king of Israel, heard a profound message radiating from above.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)

Many Christians agree with C.S Lewis’s assessment of the 19th Psalm when he wrote, “I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” What makes this Psalm so powerful is what it reveals about the heavens’ inability to remain quiet about God’s glory. Other scripture affirms this truth and expands upon the theme.

“And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice” (Psalm 50:6).

“The heavens praise your wonders, LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones” (Psalm 89:5).

“The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory” (Psalm 97:6).

What Are 'The Heavens' in Psalm 19:1?

When Christians think about heaven, we usually picture a spiritual realm where God dwells: an eternal resting place where Christians will live with God and each other in the afterlife. But David’s 19th Psalm refers to “the heavens” in a more physical sense.

In Psalm 8, David gives a little more detail, giving us a clue about the setting of “the heavens” that declare God’s glory:

“You have set your glory in the heavens … When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon, the stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:1-4)

When David says “the heavens” declare the glory of God, he’s talking about the atmospheric and celestial space surrounding the earth. For more information about the different mentions of heaven in the Bible, check out “Does the Bible Say There are Levels of Heaven?” by Dr. Sandra Hamer Smith.

What Is God’s Glory?

The Hebrew term for glory is kabod, a word with the root meaning of heaviness or weightiness. The Greek term for glory is doxa, which means “most exalted state.” 

Most Christians would agree that God is above all. But do we understand what ‘above all’ means? How can a finite being comprehend the “exalted state” of an infinite God? With faulty lips and dim perception, we spout terms like “beauty,” “splendor,” “majesty,” and “holiness,” … then tack on colorful, scholarly-sounding adjectives like intrinsic, infinite, and manifold. Still, we somehow know the sum of all our accolades falls desperately short of reality.

We long to know this larger-than-life God and to make Him known, but if we lack the words to define Him, how can we? Where human words fail, God’s Word persists.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3).

God sent Jesus to reveal His glory—who He is—to the world. When we accept Christ as our Savior, He comes to live inside us. The longer the Holy Spirit dwells in us, the more He grows our understanding of His Word (1 Corinthians 2:10). Little by little, God reveals His divine nature, character, and virtue to those who “press on to know Him.”

As God meticulously molds Believers into the image of His Son, His glory shines through our jars of clay to reveal Himself to others too. God radiates His image through our surrendered lives, testimony, love relationship with Him, and love for others.

Where human words fail, His glory persists. That’s why God created us—to know and to reveal His glory (Isaiah 43:7). The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards went so far as to say, “We cannot pursue life’s ultimate purpose until we realize God created us to discover and declare His glory” (The End for Which God Created the World).

God’s glory is the manifestation of who He is. Though we lack human words that adequately define the essence of God, He gave us something better than words. He gave us His Word—Jesus. The primary purpose of everything God created, including the Heavens, is to declare His glory (1 Chronicles 16:23) (2 Corinthians 4:6).

What Does Natural Creation Teach Us about God?

There’s a book of Revelation at the end of the Bible, but there’s also one in nature. When God created the universe, He left His fingerprints on everything He formed. Nature testifies to God’s existence and teaches us more about His character (Romans 1:20) (Job 12:7-9).

Scripture continually affirms nature’s revelatory value. The Bible tells us to consider the ant’s work ethic, the sparrow’s trust, the lily’s beauty, the goat’s surefootedness, the eagle’s nesting habits, the orderliness of the seasons, the strength of the mountains, and the obedience of the wind and waves. Each scriptural object lesson about nature speaks to God’s attributes and guides us into the path of His righteous ways.

Along with all creation, the heavens reveal God’s glory by its very nature. Without speech, words, or sound, the heavens show God’s complex, ordered handiwork on a grand scale that confounds the wise and has even left science wondering if there is a “master programmer at work in the origin of life” (Newsweek).

Prayers Praising God for the Heavens

Father in Heaven, You are the breather of stars, the captain of hosts, the masterful designer of the sun, moon, and every planet. Our words don’t come close to describing how wonderful you are, but for some reason, you find delight in the praise our lips long to offer. As our gaze drifts upward, we can’t help but catch our breath. The beauty and splendor we see in every brilliant sunset and every perfect storm is just a tiny reflection of who You are. We praise you for the gift of the heavens—the wonder they provoke, and the divine message you provide through the precise placement of each planet and star. We praise you that with the same hand you used to mark the span of the heavens, you tenderly care for us and all creation. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

God in heaven, we praise you for the warmth and light that radiates from the sun and for the power you gave to the moon to hold our world in orbit. We praise you that you used the stars to illustrate your promise to Abraham and to guide the Magi to our Savior. We thank you that within that heavenly provision, you’ve given us a glimpse of your warmth, light, power, promise, and guidance. You alone, Lord, deserve the praise, glory, and honor for every force of nature. For by your hand, all things were made, and all things are held together. Amen. 

Dear Heavenly Father, Just as the heavens are above our world, so are your flawless ways. You have set your glory above the heavens, and that glory calls to us like deep calls to deep, reminding us of your worth and our dependence on your life-giving power. We praise you for continually revealing yourself through the things above. We look forward to a time when we no longer have to look up to see you—as in a dim mirror. On that day, our joy will be complete as we gaze upon the radiance of your glory face to face and join in heaven’s worship song. But until that day, we offer our earthly praise to the One who is enthroned in our hearts and on high. There is no one like you. Thank you, God, for who You are, for all you’ve done, and for all you will do. In Christ’s precious name, Amen.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/coffeekai

Annette GriffinAnnette Marie Griffin is an award-winning author and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for more than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to benefit the community. Her passion is to help wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who have already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two adorable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the whole flock.

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