The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
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 there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
the rules 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.
Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not 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 in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19:1-14, ESV. *”warned” would be better translated as “enlightened”).
While at first glance this Psalm seems very disconnected in its different parts, the theme of light pervades this Psalm both explicitly and implicitly. The focus on the sun in verses 1-6 introduces the theme, emphasized by the transitional statement in verse 6 which describes the pervasiveness of the sun’s heat and light: “and there is nothing hid from its glow.” Just as the sun sheds light on all of creation and all of life, so too the Torah sheds light on all of life. The most explicit reference to the Torah’s relationship to light is in verse 8 where it gives light to the eyes. It opens man’s eyes to Yahweh’s Word of truth, but it also opens man’s eyes to his own sinfulness and need of salvation and protection. The Torah performs this invasive searching and unearthing in the Psalmist while at the same time reassuring him of Yahweh’s ability to keep him from sinning and of Yahweh’s identity as his “rock” and “Redeemer.” The Torah sheds its light on all corners of the Psalmist’s life, which is made apparent by the six separate names for Torah, characterizations of Torah and benefits of Torah listed in verses 7-9.
Moving outside of Psalm 19, many other Psalms testify to the sun’s pervasiveness in life. Some testify to the sun simply by using it to describe the longevity of Yahweh or of his Davidic king, and some in describing the great works of Yahweh’s hands. In Psalm 136:8 the sun is described as being created by Yahweh to rule over the day. In verse 2 of Psalm 50, directly following Yahweh’s summoning of the earth from the rising to the setting of the sun, Yahweh is said to shine forth. The Word of God or the Torah is also described in terms of light in other Psalms. In Psalm 119:105 the Psalmist declares that the Word of God “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” In Proverbs 4:18 the path of the righteous is described as shining brighter and brighter because according to verses 11 and 13, they have been taught the way of wisdom and told to keep hold of instruction. Wisdom is the fear of the Lord which is taught by the Torah, by the instruction of God’s Word. The light which comes from nature and from the Torah is a light which reveals God to all of mankind. While nature reveals God in a general sense, the Torah reveals Yahweh, the God Who saves. The ultimate fulfillment of this revelation is the Light himself coming into the world, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Torah, the light which most gloriously and perfectly reveals the Father.
As we go our way as missionaries or in our other vocations, Yahweh Himself goes with us. He prepares through the revelation of the sun and the heavens, and indeed, all Creation, people who realize that there must be something more. They may recognize in nature that there is or must be a God. But without the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, nature takes them only so far. So we proclaim with our lips the God who Saves. We bring to those who do not yet believe the things and places in which Yahweh has promised to be found: His Torah (i.e. His whole Word) and His Sacraments. For this is where Yahweh in Christ has come to us, and where Yahweh, in Christ, has promised to be found for all as Rock and Redeemer.
Let us Pray: Heavenly Father, shine the light of the sun on all those in darkness and prepare their hearts to hear Your saving Word and receive Your saving gifts of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, so that they may know You as their Rock and their Redeemer. We pray this through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.