He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name. — Psalm 147:4
Few things compare to looking up at the night sky and gazing at the brilliant stars. On a clear night we might be able to spot a few thousand stars. But how many stars are actually there?
According to astronomers, our Milky Way alone contains about 400 billion stars. However, there are many other galaxies in the universe, about 170 of them, some of which are estimated to contain more than 100 trillion stars! So how many stars are there in the universe? Astronomers estimate approximately 1024 stars. That’s a one followed by 24 zeros. No matter how you figure it, that’s a lot of stars!
Given that number, we now have a new appreciation for David’s claim in Psalm 147 that God “determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” This single verse expresses the incredible magnitude of God’s omnipotence. God created each of the trillions of stars. He knows exactly how many there are and where each one is located. However, even more amazing is that God has a relationship, so to speak, with each and every star. He looks at each individual star, assesses its qualities, and gives it a fitting name. God knows each star intimately, by name.
So what does this have to do with the seven billion human beings that occupy planet Earth?
Often, many God-fearing believers make the mistake of thinking that while God surely created the world and guides its course, He has very little to do with the nuances of our personal daily lives. Why would the Creator of the world care what I have for dinner tonight? Why would God take the time to listen to my prayers when there are billions of prayers being offered every day? However, as David teaches us, if God can have a relationship with every single star, how much more so is He involved in, and does He care about, the tiny details of every human life?
According to the Jewish sages, God is involved in every aspect of life, no matter how big or how small, how important or how insignificant. In fact, the sages teach that every blade of grass has its own personal angel standing over it, encouraging it to grow. Every single blade of grass! If that’s the kind of attention grass warrants, can you imagine how much God cares about us?
Next time you look up at the night sky and marvel at the billions of stars in the universe, take a moment to appreciate the fact that just as God knows them and loves them all, so does He know and love each of us infinitely!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President