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God’s law written in all of creation

God’s law written in all of creation

I sat down to consider this week’s reflection and prayed, ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, my Redeemer‘.  I then wondered which psalm this comes from (you see I can get distracted in prayer even before I begin – beat that!) and opened my missal to read this Sunday’s readings.  To my surprise, I found that very verse in this Sunday’s psalm.  I went to look it up and found that our psalm for Sunday is  only part of psalm 18  (verses 8 – 10 and 15).  Seeing it in its entirety, I found that I’d already prayed verses 1 – 7 that day, as they had formed part of Morning Prayer.*  The first half seems so different from the second half that I wondered how they fitted together in the mind of the composer (or compiler if – as is possible – they weren’t always together as one psalm).

The first half sings the wonders of God’s creation:

The heavens proclaim the glory of God
and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.
Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message.
No speech, no word, no voice is heard
yet their span extends through all the earth,
their words to the utmost bounds of the world.
There he has placed a tent for the sun;
it comes forth like a bridegroom coming from his tent,
rejoices like a champion to run its course.
At the end of the sky is the rising of the sun;
to the furthest end of the sky is its course
There is nothing concealed from its burning heat.

… and the portion we will hear on Sunday tells of the beauty of God’s law:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
it revives the soul.
The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
it gives wisdom to the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is holy,
abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth
and all of them just.
May the spoken words of my mouth,
the thoughts of my heart,
win favour in your sight, O Lord,
my rescuer, my rock!

You can see why that second portion is chosen for this Sunday, when we consider Luke 4:14-21 and the Law of the Lord .  Similarly, for Morning Prayer, the first portion is a beautiful meditation at the beginning of a new day (though I must admit that it most often comes to my mind when my children are starting their pudding – ‘no speech, no word, no voice is heard’!).  Nevertheless, they are two parts of one psalm.  In the mind of the composer, then, how were these seen as two parts of a whole?

It seems to me that the composer had a very beautiful and inspired perception of God.  Creation obeys the law in nature; ‘the force that through the green fuse drives the flower‘  wrote Dylan Thomas.  A fish cannot choose to live in a rabbit warren; a baby mammal roots around for milk from its mother, to whom it also looks for protection; and just as the sunflower turns to the sun for its control and direction, so too do we turn to God, who is our control and direction.  The psalmist sees God’s law in nature and the written law of the Torah as two parts of one cohesive, ineffable plan.  If we believe that ‘the decrees of the Lord are truth‘, then we ought to take greater notice of the opening lines of this psalm.  If  ‘the heavens proclaim the glory of God and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands‘, then when we courageously and faithfully live his law, we – who are the work of his hands – will also proclaim the glory of God.


*Special prize available if you can tell me which day!

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