As my bittersweet departure from Cambridge and the end of my freshman year draws near, the Cambridge weather continues to be consistently pleasant, gently erasing the long months of blistering winds and grey-black slush. The greenery in Harvard Yard is also basking in this wonderful weather, swaying to and fro with the cool breeze. And, of course, there is a steady stream of touring visitors who wander around the Yard, taking photos of the age-old buildings; excitedly pointing at the different structures with looks of wonder in their eyes…
Yesterday, my friends and I ventured out to Rockport, where I myself had a look of wonder in my eyes. I cringe as I type the words: I was trying to capture the beach, the rocks, the sun, the sky, the… oh, words are so insufficient. After flurry of snapshots and a flow of exclamations, I had to stop. What spread out before me was too beautiful to be real; too majestic to be confined to pixels; too wonderful to be captured in words. It was the deep fiery sun descending behind cotton-candy-like clouds in tender shades of pink, lavender, baby blue… it was the ocean, with thousands of diamonds sparkling on the surface of the water, winking at me in rapid succession. And me: too flattered to speak.
Tears came to my eyes as I stood there, in awe.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork…The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple…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: 1,7,14 (ESV)
You see, what made the tears come was not merely the breath of fresh air, a glimpse of the wonderful places beyond my beloved Harvard Square, but that God reached out and opened my ears to the heavens’ declaration of the glory of God (Psalm 19:1).
As my friends and I sat on a boulder to pray, I kept my eyes open, enraptured not only by the shimmering waters, but also its maker. Traditionally, I close my eyes during prayer to focus and block out distractions, but the beauty that was before me drew me closer to God, turning all of my senses towards Him—not detracting from His majesty, His glory, His beauty. Nature was proclaiming His glory, and we were partaking in that song.
My heart swelled as I recounted the familiar verse—“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Yet, when I returned to my room, I found that in my Bible, this verse was not highlighted. In fact, I had read through the Psalms several times, and I had not highlighted this verse, while “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple…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 19:7, 14) were both highlighted. Had I dismissed it, thinking it not applicable to me?
I wonder if I am alone in segmenting Psalms 19. There seems to be a jump from Psalm 19 verses 6 and 7. There is a shift from creation to the Torah, there are also grammatical shifts. However, the two are intertwined in that both sections are “words” testifying about God. Daniel Ashburn comments on this transition, stating that “the knowledge of God that is revealed in Creation is only very limited. Beyond the awareness of the Creator, the instruction of nature tells us little about the ways of God or what our response to God should be. Therefore, the psalmist turns to the instruction of God’s Torah.”
Yet, yesterday I realized that I had forgotten to look around and see the blade of grass rejoice in its Creator, to listen to the rocks cry out… I had forgotten to stop and look, listen. I certainly do not posit that observing nature can substitute the Word of God; for, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). I simply wish to share that “In the beginning, God created the heavens (“shamayim,” the same Hebrew word used in Psalm 19:1) and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), and if we just look and listen with our eyes, we can make out the fingerprints of God on the things around us, on the people we come in contact with, and, yes, on along the horizon as well.
And perhaps in awe, we will whisper: “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 19:14).”