Bible Reference: Psalm 19
Within every human soul is a longing for God, a longing to get close to God, to know God, and to know of God and His will for one’s life. Augustine once eloquently said, “My soul is restless until it rests in Thee.”
So where can a person learn about God? How does God reveal Himself to us? We sing in a hymn that He’s immortal and invisible, God only wise whose light is inaccessible and hid from our eyes. He seems so hidden.
Psalm 19 tells us God is not hiding. He has made Himself known and continues to make Himself known to us. The writer, David, marvels and rejoices in Psalm 19 that God reveals Himself to us so we can get to know Him. This psalm has three stanzas.
In the first stanza, David points us to the beauty and wonder of nature. He says, The magnificent creation testifies of God who made it and continues to maintain it. The focus here is not on all of nature but on the heavens, the sky. He writes “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord (glory meaning His power, wisdom, and greatness) and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
God’s witness to Himself has three characteristics.
1. It is continual. Day after day, night after night, it gives its witness.
2. It is abundant. It pours out speech. The image of the word used here is an image of a gushing spring, fresh and new every day.
3. It is visual and universal. With sight instead of sound, its message penetrates to the very ends of the earth of the glory and reality of God. The sun is described as a major spokesman to the praise of God using dramatic imagery of a bridegroom leaving his chamber or an athlete running his daily course across the sky so nothing is hidden from its heat.
The first stanza has been described as a general revelation of God. Nature is telling the glory of God to all. It is giving praise and witness to the Designer so all can see. The Apostle Paul talks of this general revelation in Romans pointing out that human beings cannot plead ignorance of God since He never ceases to give revelation of Himself to all people everywhere in what He has made.
Sue Monk Kidd, a Christian writer tells this story: “One August night my children dragged me to the backyard to watch a meteor show in the sky. I reluctantly joined them thinking, ‘I have so many details to tend to before we leave on vacation. I don’t have time for such idleness.’ Suddenly a golden fireball streaked across the blackness. ‘God made this,’ I whispered. It was a rare moment, not because of the sight but because I stepped beyond my familiar world into one of wonder and described the Creator in the midst. Could it be God filled the world with such beauty to lift people like me away from our obsession with details to touch our lives with the magnificent awareness of Himself?”
Both David and Paul would say Amen! to that.
In the next stanza (verses 7 to 11), David moves from the beauty and wonder of nature to the beauty and wonder of Scripture. God’s supreme revelation of Himself is the Torah, the Law, the Old Testament Scripture, which reveals God’s greatness, goodness, His ways, and His will for His people. David tells us that it helps us to know what pleases this God who has rescued us. It expresses the will of the One we want to please so we know what to do for Him. Jesus, one time, said the same sort of thing as the disciples tried to give Him lunch. He said, “My food is to do the will of my Father, to live out the Word of God” (John 4:34). The songwriter says obedience is not about earning His favor, it is a way of expressing our love for the God who has shown us favor.
By the way, God’s name changes in this section in the way in which David refers to Him. In the first stanza, He’s called El, which means God of Creation. In the second stanza, David uses the name YHWH (Yahweh). This is a covenant name meaning, God rescued His people, made Israel His own, and gave them His commandments. So in this second stanza, David describes the beauty of Yahweh’s Word – the Bible. It’s perfect, like God. It’s sure like God; it’s right like God; it’s pure like God; it’s clean like God; it’s enduring like God; it’s true like God.
Then David lists the wonderful things the Bible can do for a person. It revives the soul. It contains life-giving power and vitality for the individual. It makes the simple wise. It teaches us how life works best. It rejoices the heart as it reveals God and His love for us. It brings joy to our lives as we read of forgiveness and get direction. It cleanses us as it convicts us of our sinfulness, brings about repentance, and delivers God’s mercy. It enlightens the eyes. It helps us see the truth about God. By its commands we are warned and dangers are avoided. It brings reward, assurance, and character growth.
David then declares that the Bible is the most valuable thing a person could ever have. It is more desired than gold, even much fine gold. If you have a choice between the Word of God and gold, choose the Word of God! If you have a choice between fine gold and the Word of God, choose the Word of God. The benefits of knowing and doing the Word of God are greater than all that money can buy. It is sweeter than the finest honey in the world. It is something to be delighted in.
John Piper, a terrific Bible scholar and preacher of the gospel, once said something very profound about the value of God’s Word and how it can help us. He said, “God understands you better than anyone else. He knows how people get to the way they are, and how they are affected by their surroundings. God understands societies and groups perfectly. God knows all facts about how the world works. He knows the future and how everything will come out in the end. God is wiser than any wise writer. God is more caring than any counselor. God is more creative than any poet or artist. It simply stands to reason that what God says in His Word will be more useful to us than what anyone else in the universe has to say. Not to sit at His feet and soak our minds with His wisdom is sheer craziness, if not suicidal.”
I am reminded of the words of Jesus: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31). In regard to the Old Testament, Jesus said, “I came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it” (Matt. 5:17). The Apostle Paul’s last instructions to Timothy were to keep reading and preaching the Word of God to the people. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (II Tim. 3:16).
The Word of God awakened Martin Luther and brought about the life-changing and history-changing Reformation. Luther was so convinced of its importance, he translated it from Latin into the vernacular of his day so the common person could read it.
The blood of many has been sacrificially poured out in history to get the Word of God into people’s hands. Why? Because it’s so valuable for the human soul. It revives it. It gives life and direction that we cannot find elsewhere. God reveals Himself and His will for us in His perfect Word. David is telling us in this Psalm that the Bible is not something to be treated as a trifle in our lives. It is to be opened, read, studied, meditated upon, and put to work in our daily living. It is valuable!
The Psalm ends with a prayer. The Psalmist gets personal. Some surmise this last stanza is about the Psalmist, having reflected upon the glory and perfection of God’s creation in His Word, seems to now have a sense of sinfulness. It’s been evoked in him. He is seeking forgiveness for his past sins and protection from future rebelliousness against God. Like the creation and the Word, David wants to stand before God without blemish. He desires to walk innocently before God.
Perhaps that is correct. Another thought, though, (keeping in line with the Psalm) is these are words of surrender as he submits himself to reading Scripture with a humble spirit. He humbles himself before God and says, God, show me my sins in your Word and forgive me. Show me Your ways in Your word so I can walk innocently before You. When push comes to shove, Lord, I want the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart to be acceptable in Your sight, for You are my Rock and my Redeemer.
David could be saying, As I study Your Word, may it come to pass that my words and thoughts from now on would forever be pleasing to you Lord. I want my life to give you glory.
It’s a great Psalm. Christian writer C. S. Lewis calls this Psalm the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.
Finally, had David been around long enough to see another revelation, he would have certainly added a fourth stanza. God ultimately revealed Himself in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. John announced in his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).
The Gospel of Luke tells us that the multitude of angels in the heavens at Christ’s birth were declaring the glory of God as a witness to the shepherds in their fields. John ends chapter 1 by saying, “No one has ever seen God, but the only Son who is at the Father’s right hand, has made him known (John 1:18).” Jesus has made God known. He has made His redeeming love known as the Son of God who was born into this world, walked in perfect obedience to His heavenly Father, lived the perfect life, then gave His life up on a cross to pay for the sinfulness of you and me. He promised that all who place their trust in Him shall have eternal life, know God personally, and one day see Him face-to-face. This God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Friends, if you want to know God – the immortal, invisible God – He’s not hiding from us. He wants you to know Him. I encourage you, then, to not only enjoy the sunrises and the sunsets, but to allow God to show His unmerited favor. Ask Jesus Christ into your life to rescue you and lead you for the rest of your life. Then open His Word, which is much more valuable than the finest gold, and let Him speak into your life. You won’t regret this. You’ll be more than glad you opened your life to Him and His Word.
God bless you in your walk with Christ and His holy Word. May it speak loudly into your life and bless you. Amen.
Pastor Steve Kramer