Psalm 147 – Sand and Stars

Astronomy is one of the traditional disciplines of a liberal arts education.  And yet, how many of us were actually taught about the stars or have given them much thought?  This is sad, because the stars have a lot to say.  The Bible says that the heavens declare the glory of God, night after night revealing knowledge and day after day pouring forth speech (Psalm 19:1-2).  So what are the stars saying to us?

For starters, the stars have a lot to say about size.  As an example, consider the lyrics of this song:

“One tear in the driving rain, one voice in a sea of pain; Could the maker of the stars hear the sound of my breaking heart?” (Tenth Avenue North, “Hold My Heart”).

Could the sound of something so small catch the attention of someone so big as the Maker of Billions—especially when the billions are all making noise?  Billions of stars in space, billions of souls on earth.

Compared to God and the stars He has made, we are small.  Twice the psalmist asks:

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You remember him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).

“O LORD, what is man, that you remember him?  Or the son of man, that You visit him?  Man is like a mere breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:3-4).

Both in space and in time, we are very small.

But if the skies have a lot to say about our size, relative to the stars, what about God?  The same stars that speak of our smallness also speak of His bigness—His greatness—and this thought gives us hope:

“The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel.  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.  Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:2-5).

Now catch the reasoning of this psalm.  Three things are very numerous—the exiles scattered worldwide, the hearts broken inside, and the stars visible outside—yet God Himself is “great” (literally big), abundant in strength and infinite in mind.  He not only made the stars and knows the stars, He names the stars, which implies His ability to imagine a billion names and then assign a billion names without confusing one star with another or forgetting even one.  Such is our Sovereign Lord: infinite in understanding.

For Jews in exile, this was extremely good news.  In fulfillment to the promises given to their fathers, they were as numerous as the stars in the sky or as the sand upon the shore, and yet where were they now?  Had God lost track of them—one tear in the driving rain, one voice in a sea of pain?  No, the Maker of the stars could hear the sound of one breaking heart.  That thought is so precious.  Jesus has a lot of sheep, but, as our good and great Shepherd, He loses not one.  He calls each by name and will raise him up on the last day.  Every exile will come home.

Now let’s press the analogy inward.  When God told Abram to look up and to count the stars, saying, “So shall your seed be,” there were only so many stars visible to Abram’s vision.  Similarly, when God tells us that in the days of Solomon, the Jews were as numerous as the sand on the seashore, there were still only so many grains of sand available for examination.  Beneath the waves were myriads and myriads of sand granules, and as we now know, beyond the gaze of Abram were myriads and myriads of stars—and yet our God has each star named.  He knows the size and shape of every particular grain of sand.  And He knows the hurt and pain of each thought buried deep in our hearts, beneath the facial expressions we reveal to others.

We may be small compared to the stars, but God is big—He hears and heals each breaking heart.


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