“Have you ever stood at the ocean with the white foam at your feet, felt the endless thundering motion? Then, I say, you’ve seen Jesus my Lord. / Have you ever stood at the sunset with the sky mellowing red, seen the clouds suspended like feathers? Then, I say, you’ve seen Jesus my Lord.” (Song: Have You Seen Jesus My Lord by John Fischer).
It is true that something of the creator can be seen in creation. Nature’s God and Creator is seen in nature. This is a Biblical thought (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20). In this writing, we’ll ponder God from nature.
1. Star Gazing (Psalm 8).
Imagine David, the shepherd boy, at night with the sheep looking up at the moon and stars above in amazement. He, gazing at creation above, ponders, “when I consider Your heavens, the works of Your fingers, the man and the stars which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? (Psalm 8:3-4).
The term “heavens” refers to a lofty or high place. It is equated in context with the location of the moon and the stars (Genesis 1:14-17; Deuteronomy 8:3; Ps. 19:3-4). Note: The sun is not mentioned because this is a night scene.
The word “ordained” means to set in place. He recognized God as the creator of the universe (cf. Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 3:4).
The word “visit” carries the meaning of having concern or care. The NASB reads, “What is man that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man that Thou dost care for him?” The ESV reads, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
Space is vast. The moon is an average 240,000 miles from earth; the sun is an average 93 million miles from earth. However, these things are relatively near. “If we drew a map of the Milky Way galaxy, and represented the earth and the sun as two dots one inch apart (thus a scale of one inch equals 93 million miles…) we would need a map at least four miles wide to locate the next nearest star and a map 25,000 miles wide to reach the center of our galaxy” (Bert Thompson and Wayne Jackson, The Case of the Existence of God, p. 19).
Think of the numbers. Carl Sagan estimated that there might be as many as 10 billion trillion stars (Billions and Billions, p. 3). It is estimated that the unaided human eye can potentially see 3,000 stars on a moonless, cloudless night away from city light pollution. Whatever the number the Bible indicates that God knows each one (Psalm 147:4-5).
When one considers such size and numbers, how great our God must be! Yet, He cares for man who is so small and weak in this vast universe. In fact, the things above were made for us (Genesis 1:14-19). Moreover, such was made to tell us something of the nature of our God (Psalm 19:1). What a God we have!
2. Sun Bathing (Psalm 19).
Imagine David outdoors observing the sun’s “rising” and its eventual “setting”. His thoughts turn to God. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork … In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; there is nothing hidden from its heat” (Psalm 19:1-6).
The “heavens” refer to a lofty or high place. The “firmament” refers to an expanse, something stretched-out, the NASB reads “expanse”. It is equated in context with the location of the tabernacle (or dwelling place) of the sun.
David was no atheist. He called the universe God’s “handiwork” or the work of God’s hands.
The sun is compared to a bridegroom appearing. The reference no doubt is to the sun’s “rising”. It’s appearing brings joy (cf. John 3:29). Matthew Henry comments, “He is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, richly dressed and adorned, as fine as hand can make him, looking pleasantly himself and making all about him pleasant”. Charles Spurgeon remarked, “No other creature yields such joy to the earth as her bridegroom the sun (recorded by Robert R. Taylor, Jr., Studies in Psalms, p. 37).
The sun is compared to a strong man running a race. Some christian apologists have pointed out that the sun actually moves. It moves at a rate of 600,000 mph on a circuit that is so large that it would take 220,000,000 years (at this rate) to complete one orbit (Bert Thompson and Wayne Jackson, A Study Course in Christian Evidences, p. 133). However, it seems to me that the language concerns life from an earthly vantage point. It is speaking of the “rising” and “setting” of the sun. The sun runs this course with endurance. There is nothing on earth hidden from its heat.
The sun is enormous. It is estimated that 1,300,000 earths could fit inside the sun (www.suntrek.org). The sun’s diameter is 109 times that of the earth (hypertextbook.com). The sun is hot. Its surface temperature is thought to be 9900oF or 5500oC (Doug Lambier and Robert Stevenson, Genesis for Kids, p. 74). The sun is set at the right distance for proper heat and tidal flow for life existence on earth. What a God we have!
3. Storm Watching (Psalm 29).
Charles Spurgeon commented, “Just as the eighth Psalm is to be read by the moonlight, when the stars are bright, as the nineteenth needs the rays of the rising sun to bring out its beauty, so this can be best rehearsed beneath the black wing of tempest, by the glare of lightning, or amid that dubious dusk which heralds the war of elements. The verses march to the tune of the thunderbolts” (recorded by Roy Deaver, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, vol. 1, p. 94).
Imagine David listening to a storm approach. He says, “The voice of the LORD is over the waters; The God of glory thunders… The voice of the LORD is powerful; The voice of the LORD is majestic” (Psalm 29:3-ff). The “voice of the LORD” is used in scripture to describe thunder (consider—Exodus 9:23, 28, 29; Job 37:4; Psalm 18:13; Psalm 29; Isaiah 30:30). This is a figure of speech, a metonymy, the cause (the LORD) is put for the effect (thunder and lightning).
David hears the storm on the move. It was first over the water; likely, the reference is to the Mediterranean Sea. It then moved into land. (1) It broke cedar trees (Psalm 29:5); perhaps, this was due to accompanying winds or lightning. (2) It shook the earth as if a calf or young ox was skipping in close proximity to the Psalmist (Psalm 29:6). (3) It divides [lit. cuts out, “hews out” (NASB)] the flames of fire (Psalm 29:7); perhaps, this refers to lightning, or to the resulting fires. It is said “on average Midwest thunderstorm generates enough electrical output to power the entire United States for twenty minutes” (www.ehow.com). Note: There are about 1800 thunderstorms occurring at any given moment around the world (www.factmonster.com). (4) It shakes the wilderness (Psalm 29:8). (5) It prompts the deer to give birth (Psalm 29:9). (6) It strips the forest bare (Psalm 29:9).
Thunderstorms can be frightening. It is said that the Emperor Caligula regularly hid himself under his bed when it powerfully thundered (Suetonius/The Twelve Caesars/Gaius, p. 51).
Lightening is beneficial. It transforms nitrogen into a usable form (N2 to NO3). “Worldwide, storms are estimated to produce one hundred million tons of useful nitrogen compounds each year. Recent studies indicate that up to one-half of all usable nitrogen in the soil is fixed or made usable by the energy of lightening” (Donald DeYoung, Weather and the Bible, pp. 89-90). Moreover, lightening may serve as a catalyst which expedites precipitation (answers.yahoo; Job 37:1-6). What a God we have!
4. Nature Walking (Matthew 6:26, 28, 30).
Go for a walk. Notice the things around you. God provides for the birds. Are we not more precious than they are? (Matthew 6:26; 10:29, 31). God provides for the plants. However, remember that it is to man dominion was given. We even burn such plants in our ovens. Do we think that He can’t care for us? He does provide for us. Moreover, He has promised that if we seek Him first His special providence will be with us (Matthew 6:33). What a God we have!