THE SPACIOUS FIRMAMENT
Joseph Addison, 1672–1719
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. (Psalm 19:1)
The month of May is generally regarded as the most beautiful month of the year. March winds and April showers have done their work, and now the earth is attired in all of its God-given beauty. Of all people, Christians should be the most appreciative of God’s created world. Although we may never be able to understand fully and explain adequately all of the scientific details about creation, we can say with certainty, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth” (Apostles’ Creed); and with the writer of Hebrews, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command” (Hebrews 11:3). The wonder of God’s spacious firmament should cause a flow of endless praise to our great Creator.
The Bible teaches that man is without excuse for not knowing God. The Creator has revealed Himself at least partially in nature (Romans 1:19–21) as well as internally in the human conscience (Romans 1:32; 2:14, 15). The full revelation of God, however, is only realized in the person and work of Jesus Christ—“the radiance of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3).
“The Spacious Firmament” was written by Joseph Addison—one of England’s outstanding writers. These verses were part of a larger essay titled “An Essay on the Proper Means of Strengthening and Confirming Faith in the Mind of Man.” Addison prefaced his work with the words: “The Supreme Being has made the best arguments for His own existence in the formation of the heavens and earth.” Addison’s poem first appeared in The Spectator newspaper in 1712.
The spacious firmament on high, with all the blue, ethereal sky, and spangled heavens, a shining frame, their great Original proclaim: Th’ unwearied sun, from day to day, does his Creator’s pow’r display; and publishes to ev’ry land the work of an almighty hand.
What though in solemn silence, all move round this dark terrestrial ball? What though no real voice nor sound amid their radiant orbs be found? In reason’s ear they all rejoice, and utter forth a glorious voice, forever singing as they shine, “The hand that made us is divine.”
For Today: Genesis 1:1–19; Psalm 19:1–6; Isaiah 40:26; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 11:1–4
Reflect again on the Genesis account of creation. Reaffirm your faith and confidence in God as the creator of this vast firmament. Determine to be more aware and appreciative of the many splendors of nature that we often take for granted. Consider this musical truth as you go—
Osbeck, K. W.
- In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upn the waters. Then God said, Let there be light: And there was light. And God saw the light that it was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. And God called the Light, Day, and the darkness he called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. Again God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. Then God made the firmament, and separated the waters, which were under the firmament, from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament, Heaven, So the evening and the morning was the second day. God said again, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land, Earth, and he called the gathering together of the waters, Seas: and God saw that it was good. Then God said, Let the earth bud forth the bud of the herb, that seedeth seed, the fruitful tree, which beareth fruit according to his kind, which hath his seed in itself upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth the bud of the herb, that seedeth seed according to his kind, also the tree that beareth fruit, which hath its seed in itself according to his kind: and God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven, to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. God then made two great lights: the greatest light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made also the stars. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven, to shine upon the earth, And to rule in the day, and in the night, and to separate the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Genesis 1:1–19
- The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth the work of his hands. Day unto day uttereth the same, and night unto night teacheth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone forth through all the earth, and their words into the ends of the world: in them hath he set a tabernacle for the Sun. Which cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth like a mighty man to run his race. His going out is from the end of the heaven, and his compass is unto the ends of the same, and none is hid from the heat thereof. Psalm 19:1–6
- Lift up your eyes on high, and behld who hath created these things, and bringeth out their armies by number, and calleth them all by names: by the greatness of his power and mighty strength nothing faileth. Isaiah 40:26
- For the invisible things of him, that is, his eternal power and Godhead, are seen by the creation of the world, being considered in his works, to the intent that they should be without excuse: Romans 1:20
- Now faith is the grounds of things which are hoped for, and the evidence of things which are not seen. For by it our elders were well reported of. Through faith we understand that the world was ordained by the word of God, so that the things which we see, are not made of things which did appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a greater sacrifice than Cain, by the which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: by the which faith also he being dead, yet speaketh. Hebrews 11:1–4