The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes! (Psa 119:64)
The vastness of the earth makes this statement astounding. It is hard for the average person to comprehend the size of the earth. It’s hard to even comprehend the size of one of the earth’s oceans. The Atlantic Ocean has a volume of 80 million cubic miles. If you could build an enormous box one mile high, by one mile wide, by one mile long, you would need 80 million of these boxes to have enough space to pour out the Atlantic Ocean. And the Atlantic is not even the largest ocean in the world - it makes up only 20% of the world’s surface!
It isn’t much easier to comprehend the size of the earth’s landmasses. We could say that relative to the entire human population, the earth is oversized. Did you know that if every person on the planet moved to Texas, there would be enough room for everyone to have 1,000 square feet of space to themselves? The earth is so large that all humanity could live in one U.S. state, leaving the rest of the planet completely uninhabited.
All of this is to say that to fill the earth with anything would be a gargantuan task. Yet, the psalmist testifies that God does this with His love. How unimaginably vast is the love of God!
But the psalmist’s statement is not merely a description of the awesome size of God’s love, but also of its power. We make a mistake if we consider the love of God to be a passive substance like water or space. The love of God is not just a thing that exists or takes up space. The love of God acts and accomplishes. It is God’s love that preserves us (Psa 40:11). It is God’s love that feeds all His creation (Psa 136:25). Every act of providence and sustenance is fueled by His love (Psa 136). The whole earth bears the fingerprint of God’s providential care.
The knowledge that the earth is filled with the love of God - what does it compel you to do? It compelled the psalmist to know God more. And where can He be known more fully than in the Scriptures? As vast as is the earth’s testimony to the love and character of God, it pails in comparison to the fullness of the testimony of the Word. Thus, the psalmist prays, teach me your statutes!
It is the law of God specifically that calls to the psalmist. We might find this difficult to understand. How could the “do’s and don’ts” of Scripture testify of God’s love? Well, the law reveals the holy character of God. It also reveals the pain and difficulty that this loving God would spare us. The law warns us of that which would harm us.
Most importantly, the law exposes our need for a Savior. None of us are capable of keeping the law perfectly and we have all violated it innumerable times. We need someone to fulfill the law for us and to save us from the penalty of breaking it. Remember that Paul refers to the law as a “tutor to lead us to Christ” (Gal 3:24).
May reflection on the vastness of God’s love call us to seek to know Him more deeply by learning His holy law.
Questions for reflection:
1) How is God’s love revealed in the creation around you?
2) If His love fills the earth, where can you go to hide from it?
3) What can separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom 8:38-39)
4) The knowledge that the earth is filled with God’s love - what does it compel you to do?