Understand the creation, if you wish to know the Creator; if you will not know the former either, be silent concerning the Creator, but believe in the Creator.
- Columbanus, Sermon I, Irish, 7th century
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.
- Psalm 145.5-7
God is continually revealing Himself in His works (Ps 19.1-4). He is speaking to us, making Himself known, illustrating and adumbrating the revelation in Scripture with living, breathing, colorful, majestic, glorious works of creation and culture all around.
How important did Columbanus think it was that we learn how to meditate on the works of God and discern His presence and glory in them (Prov. 25.2)? He indicates that, while we can know the Lord and believe in Him without understanding the creation, we don’t have sufficient experience of Him – of His glory, flaming forth and oozing around us – to talk convincingly about Him – at least, not to people who only see the creation, and know nothing of God’s Word.
Only as we discern the splendor of His majesty in all His wondrous works will we be able to talk persuasively about the awesome acts of God and all His greatness. Columbanus is only echoing what the psalmist proclaims.
How much we miss each day because we have not yet learned to hear the voice of the Lord in the things He has made! And how many exciting opportunities for bearing witness await us if we will learn to do so.
All around us, day by day, the creation “utters” (Ps. 19.2), glimpses of God and His splendor, majesty, greatness, goodness, and righteousness. We go through life like travelers at an airport, rushing to the next gate to make our connection, paying little attention to whatever is going on around us and thinking only about what we have to do next.
But the creation is not like an airport terminal. It’s more like a great museum or curiosity cabinet, in which are displayed the glory-filled works of God. The fame of God’s abundant goodness awaits us, if only we will take the time to look.
Choose an object – a tree, leaf, bird, or even some artifact of culture. Focus on its shape, size, proportions, function, unseen components, and overall beauty. As you study it carefully, to apprehend and appreciate its many features, recall what Scripture teaches about such things: that God upholds this object by His Word of power, and through it He bears witness to Himself. It is a token of His power, a sample of His greatness and abounding goodness, whereby He fills His creation with objects to serve and delight those who know and honor Him (Pss. 119.89-91; 111.2).
Speak to the Lord; praise Him for what He has shown you of Himself, be it ever so grand or slight. Such meditations on the Word of God in creation and culture can be a source of enrichment for our souls. The artistry of the Great Master speaks to us of His steadfast love and faithfulness, but we must be willing to slow down, reflect, and wait on Him to make His presence known.
And use the things of creation to point others to the goodness and greatness of God. He has left a witness to Himself in such things, and it is part of our calling to help the works of God in creation and culture to sing His praises and bear testimony to Him. (cf. Acts 14.17).
God is speaking to us in all the things He has made. What we learn about God in Scripture must be the starting-point; but if we want to increase in our appreciation of the greatness and grandeur of God, and to be able to share Him with people who do not know His Word, we’ll need to “understand the creation” and give it voice to bear witness to Him.
Psalm 145.1-6 (Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want)
I will extol You, God, my King, and ever praise Your Name!
I bless You, Lord, for everything each day, and e’er the same!
Great are You, Lord, my praise I bring; unsearchable Your fame!
To ev’ry generation we Your wondrous works shall tell.
The splendor of Your majesty we contemplate full well.
We speak of all Your mighty deeds and all Your greatness tell!
Lord, give me eyes to see Your glory, and ears to hear You speaking in the works of creation and culture, so that I can…
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Walker, p. 65.