Psalm 19:1–14 comment (0)
January 23, 2014
By Thomas L. Fuller
Related Scripture: Psalm 19:1–14
Bible Studies for Life
Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
How Can I Be Sure God Exists?
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 53:1a). In Western society, it was once nearly unthinkable to question the existence of God, much less to express such doubt openly. Times have changed. A 2007 survey conducted by the Pew Forum found that 51 percent of U.S. adults are absolutely certain in their belief in God and view God as a real, personal being. While the question of God’s existence may be firmly settled in the minds of professing Christians, we live among people who are increasingly skeptical of this claim and comfortably vocal about it. The Bible assumes the existence of God and does not seek to argue the point with rational proofs. It does, however, point us to ways in which God reveals Himself.
In vv. 1–6, the psalmist points us to the revelation of God in nature. In the glory and majesty of the skies (1–4b) and of the sun (4c–6), we catch a mere glimpse of God’s glory and majesty. Notice the communication terminology of vv. 1–3: declare, proclaims, pours out speech, reveals knowledge. Creation makes an argument for the existence of God that never ends, that cannot be silenced, that cannot be refuted, that transcends our paltry words and concepts.
Notice also the emphasis on order and regularity in vv. 4c–6: that the rising and setting of the sun (and, by extension, the seasons of the year) reveal a God of constancy and wisdom.
God is revealed to us in the majestic beauty and perfect complexity of nature. Paul makes a similar point in Romans 1:19–20 and 10:18. This mode of revelation, however, is indirect and general. We are not left to discern the existence of God through nature alone, for God has revealed Himself in more specific and direct ways.
In vv. 7–11, the psalmist points us to the revelation of God in Scripture. The law of the Lord — torah — is a greater and clearer revelation of God. It is significant that in these verses the psalmist refers to Yahweh (the Lord), the covenant God, rather than El (God), the creator God (v. 1). In His covenanting work, God reveals Himself in a more personal way. God’s word in its various forms — law, testimony, precepts, commandment, rules — is wholly sufficient and trustworthy, revealing our omnipotent and faithful God; it is a treasure and a blessing, revealing God’s beauty, wisdom and worth. The covenant Lord has given us His word that we might know Him, worship Him and serve Him. What the psalmist could only anticipate, however, we now celebrate: that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ, “the only Son of God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known” (John 1:18b).
The question of God’s existence is no mere matter of intellectual inquiry but an intensely personal and existential question with radical implications for how we see ourselves and others and for how we live our lives. The closing lines of the psalm reflect the gravity of the matter. The psalmist doesn’t “reach a conclusion” but offers a prayerful response. Like Isaiah’s vision of the Lord (Isa. 6) and Job’s encounter with God (Job 38–42), the psalmist expresses a keen awareness of his sinfulness and pleads to be found acceptable before the holy God. In the truest sense, acknowledging God’s existence demands a personal response. The psalmist models for us the appropriate response to the one true God: a humble plea for mercy and favor and a worshipful submission to His sovereign and gracious will.