This struck me as having a double meaning and a double application this morning.
First, there is the surface level meaning of the verse. For the psalmist to assert that the works of the LORD are great is no stretch. For the believer, everything around us — sun, moon, and stars, life in all its shapes and forms, the fact that food and drink can be delicious as well as satisfying our needs, as just a few examples — is a work of God. If I stare long enough into the sky in an undeveloped place, I feel like I’m being drawn up into the innumerable stars. There is a vastness to some of God’s works that is great. There is an intricacy to life and an interconnectedness of systems that is great and boggles the mind somewhat. But there is more than the everyday greatness of the LORD. The Bible records miracles without peer — parting the Red Sea so Israel could cross on dry ground, Jesus raising Lazarus and later Himself from the dead. Even a cursory glance at the scriptures leaves me with the impression that God is capable of amazing things. And that leads to the first bit of application. The works of the LORD captured in scripture are studied by all who delight in them. God did not instruct His people to write these things down just so I could look once and think it interesting. God had these things written down that I might study them and look keenly at what was done and for whom and under what circumstances. God had these things written down so that I could study them and learn about Him.
But there is more. There is a second application I see in this. The works of the LORD are all around me. I wrote above about the commonplace works of the LORD — life, the cosmos, pleasure, to name a few — and these should be studied (maybe not pleasure so much, but there’s nothing wrong with appreciating that God took the effort to make food and drink and many other things both utilitarian and enjoyable). Believers have been making good on this verse for centuries, studying life and the universe, what laws govern the physical world and so forth. Believers have become chefs and artists and poets and musicians, adding more enjoyment to necessary things. So should I. If I can add beauty to the world, then I should. If I study the physical universe, it should be with an eye toward the God Who made it. David wrote about looking up and contemplating the stars and that contemplation led him back into contemplation of God. Proper study of God’s works will always bring me back to God.
So, two actions and a guideline for me this morning. Action one: study God’s works in The Bible. Action two: study God’s works all around me and emulate Him where possible. The guideline: All study of God’s works that leads me back to a richer understanding of God is right study of His works. All other study of His works is of dubious profit to me.