“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens! … When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” Psalm 8:1, 3-4
Psalm eight is a psalm that celebrates God’s wisdom and power as the creator of everything. It’s not very long, yet in its nine verses in contains several references that would be worthy of more in-depth consideration. As I am limiting myself to only one post per chapter, in our journey in the Psalms, I have chosen to meditate on only verses three and four where David draws our attention to the heavens.
A few weeks ago I was thinking about God’s greatness and grandeur and the heavens with their celestial bodies were some of the first things that came to mind and with them came a recollection of these words from the psalmist. The immensity of the heavens together with the variety, the organization, and the shear number of the heavenly bodies demands our consideration as we think about God’s glory.
The universe is enormous. We measure the distance between stars in light-years, or the distance that light travels in a year, which is 5.88 trillion miles. Written as a number that looks like this: 5,880,000,000,000.
The closest star to earth, Proxima Centauri, is 4.22 light-years away with the second and third closest being only 4.3 light-years. To give you an idea of how far some of the other stars we see are away from us consider the ninth brightest star in the winter sky, Betelgeuse, in the constellation Orion, its approximately 643 light-years away, and there are stars much, much further away.
Some of the lights we see in the sky aren’t actually stars. They’re, in fact, galaxies and are made up of billions of stars all by themselves. They’re just so far away from us that the hundreds of light years separating those stars from each other has dwindled to a point where they all appear to be a single light.
And all these stars, planets, nebula, and galaxies move together in predictable and harmonious patterns. This is amazing to me. When I think of the organization and power required to coordinate just one galaxy I’m in awe. But then I remember that there are billions, perhaps trillions, of galaxies in the universe, all different, and all coordinated with one another I’m completely blown away.
There’s no way that King David could have known what we know about the heavens but still his words are true. Consideration of the heavens leaves any God fearing person wondering, “Why does God even care about me?” Yet we know he does. We experience his love every day. And if that’s left us with any doubts he gave us Jesus to be our Savior.
Truly our God is great, and his mercy and loving kindness is everlasting.