Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Psalms of David -- Psalm 18

"The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork" (vs. 1).

"The Christian faith," Fr. Patrick begins, "recognizes two ways in which God has made His revelation to us: through nature and through grace. 'Through Creation and through Scripture' is another way of saying the same thing." In a well-known verse in this psalm, sung often in the Divine Liturgy of Orthodox services (the prokeimenon before the epistle and in other places) the Prophet David states, referring to all the wonders of nature, that "Their sound has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world" in declaring the glory of God (vs. 4).

St. Paul takes up this line in the New Testament, saying that the missionaries who take the message of the gospel out to those who do not know Christ are working, as it were, hand in hand with nature. He asks the believers in Rome, "have they [the people of the world] not heard? Yes indeed: 'Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world'" (10:8). "Paul is saying," notes Fr. Patrick, "that the Gospel is as cosmic as the cosmos."

This is one aspect of God's revelation of Himself--as well as our part in that revealing of Him to our fellow man--that has always fascinated me, as well as put me at odds with many (though by no means all) Evangelicals when I was in that camp. It's been refreshing to come into a confession of Christianity which strongly affirms our link with the rest of creation, sentient as we humans are, or not. The universe, though groaning as in the pains of childbirth and waiting for Christ, Who is our Life, to appear and complete our adoption as sons and our (as well as its own) full redemption (Rom. 8:21-23; Col. 3:4), yet does a more faithful job of declaring steadfastly that there is a God, that He sends down rain on the just and the unjust, that He is a creative Creator and that He provides for us, in cycles of death and resurrection, a witness of His plan to sustain us and help us grow. We, the supposed crown jewel of Creation (we are; the "supposed" comes from our lack of living up to our potential), sputter and stall in our inconsistent efforts to praise Him and make Him known. Our glory--that we are made in the image and likeness of God--has been the source of our greater fall; would that we could observe the glory of God made manifest through our fellow creations and become worthier icons ourselves. Lord, have mercy.


Ian said...

Wonderful to see your, and Fr Patrick's, reflections on the Psalms back as well. Thank you.

Mimi said...

This is so true, thank you Reader David.

The word "firmament" came in my word-a-day email a few days ago. I smiled and rejoiced in knowing the word.