They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. –Psalm 19:3-4b
My old Sunday School teacher, Harold Haggard, had a sort of proverb that he liked to repeat at every opportunity: “What you’re doing speaks so loud, I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Search all through the Bible’s Proverbs and you won’t find Mr. Haggard’s nugget of wisdom in so many words, but you will find his basic idea in various places. When Jesus complains of the Pharisees as “white-washed tombs,” He seems to echo that idea of bad actions drowning out good words.
Nature, it seems, and specifically the heavens, can do just the opposite. Good actions–or maybe it’s just good being–can make words unnecessary. This declaration of the glory of God goes on, wordlessly, throughout the whole world. Travel to Sao Paolo and you’ll see different stars, yet they sing the same wordless song. Behind the clouds that cover my sky today, I know that the stars stand as witnesses to their Creator. In the glare of the brightest city, the stars might not be visible, but we know they’re out there.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Nature, talked of nature as a spiritual force, passing notes to the attentive observer. But in Emerson’s mind, nature simply confirmed the greatness of Man. While Emerson’s flowers tell him how wonderful he is, the Psalmist’s heavens recount the greatness of God and the inadequacy of Man.
That’s a message the whole world can stand to hear.