Psalms are songs, poems that were originally set to music and sung. Biblical psalms come in a variety of styles (e.g., lament; praise). Ps.19 is one the didactic (instructional) psalms. It is an inspired contemplation of God’s self-revelation, in which David explains the two ways that God makes Himself known to us.
Through His creation
Read 19:1-6. God reveals Himself to us through His creation. In Ps. 19, David focuses on a specific part of creation, the “heavens” – what we can see in the day and night skies.
The heavens reveal something about God. Just as a painting reveals something about the artist, just as a book reveals something about its author, so the heavens reveal something about its Creator. Specifically, they reveal His “glory” or splendor.
MILKY WAY & DISTANT GALAXIES: If the cosmos is this vast, how powerful must God be to bring it into being?
PLANETS & COMETS ORBITS: If the cosmos is this intricate and orderly, how intelligent must God be to set this up (same observation on ATOMIC level)?
David insists that the heavens’ revelation about God (though non-verbal – 19:3) is articulate and abundant (“telling;” “declaring;” “pours forth;” “reveals”). This revelation is also universal (19:4) – for example, the sun communicates something about God’s splendor to every human every day (19:5,6).
This is one reason why all human cultures have at least a memory of a supreme Creator.
This is why Paul says Rom.1:19,20 (read). This is why Johann Kepler, the father of modern astronomy, said: “The undevout astronomer is a madman!”
Such is the revelation of God through creation. Its power and intricacy and beauty have an amazing ability to simultaneously quiet us and humble us and attract us toward God. Do you make the time to “listen” to this “speech” of God by regularly observing and appreciating it? One of the disturbing effects of over-use of information technology is that it insulates us from creation and blocks our perception of this revelation of God.
But as articulate and abundant and universal as this revelation is, it is not enough to satisfy the human heart. For this, we need God’s verbal speech. And this is just what God has given us – self-revelation through His Word...
Through His Word
Read 19:7-11. The “law” (torah) of God is not just God’s commandments; it refers to all of His written revelation. When David wrote this psalm, God’s torah comprised about half of the Old Testament. David was aware that God was revealing Himself through his writings, and he knew that God would continue to add to His revelation in the future through other prophets and the Messiah (Heb.1:1,2). So God’s Word comprises all of what we now call the Bible.
David says that God’s Word is far more precious and satisfying than any part of His creation (19:10). Why is this?
God’s Word reveals much more information than creation. Creation reveals God’s power and aesthetic sensibilities and intelligence, but His Word reveals His character (especially His love and mercy – Ex.34:6,7). It also reveals other things pertaining to us that creation does not reveal - God’s will for our lives, His diagnosis of our root problem, and His plan for fixing our problem through His Son, Jesus Christ.
God’s Word is also far more accurate than His revelation through creation. Because creation is now broken because of humanity’s revolt, it sends a mixed message about God. Nature is beautiful, but it is also sometimes cruel. Nature is powerful, but it is also sometimes destructive. But God’s Word contains no brokenness or mixed message. It is “perfect... sure...right... pure... clean... true... altogether righteous.”
God’s Word can positively impact us far more positively than His revelation through creation. Nature can humble and inspire us, but God’s word can “restore the soul... make wise the simple... rejoice the heart... enlighten the eyes ... warn... reward.”
Through God’s Word, you be assured that all of your sins have been forgiven.
Through God’s Word, you can experience the joy of being loved by Him.
Through God’s Word, you can learn how to live wisely, as He designed you to live.
Through God’s Word, you can live with hope by learning His plan for the future.
All this and much more is available to us through God’s Word. What a precious treasure it is! But mere exposure to His Word will not automatically impact us this way. Have you ever noticed how it can totally transform one person’s life, and yet another person can be exposed to the same Word and be unaffected? Or how it can be delicious to you at one period of your life, but leave you cold at another period? Why is this? God’s Word and its power to bless us never changes – it is constant. The difference is in the way we approach it. David ends Ps. 19 by showing us two keys to benefiting from God’s.
2 keys to benefiting from God’s Word
The first key is to cultivate a healthy mistrust of yourself. Read 19:12,13 NLT. David asks for God’s protection because he knows that that there may be sinful attitudes and habits lurking in his heart of which he is completely unaware. And because he knows that he is fully capable of serious moral breakdown (e.g., Bathsheba). And because of this healthy mistrust in himself, he values God’s instruction, and his heart is wide open to receive it and be changed by it.
Do you know what the Bible calls the person who is confident of his own thoughts and goodness? It calls him a fool (read Prov.12:15a)! A fool does not sense his need to be reminded and corrected by God’s Word. His proud heart blocks its impact.
New Christians mistrust themselves because they are fresh from experiencing the failure of their own wisdom. But older Christians often lose it because (ironically) they have undergone some change and healing through God’s Word, so they subtly conclude that they don’t need God’s instruction as desperately as they once did.
Do you have a deep mistrust of yourself? No Christian in this room (including me) would say: “I am confident of my own thoughts and goodness.” We know better than to say this - sand besides, we don’t our Christian friends to think we’re unspiritual! But we can still believe it and operate out of it.
One way to know whether you have David’s attitude is to check how open you are to other people’s advice and correction (Prov.12:15b).
When was the last time you sought advice from another Christian about a major life-decision, or a relational problem, or a ministry challenge? If you can’t remember, isn’t this probably a sign that you are confident of your own wisdom?
When was the last time you carefully considered warning or corrective input from another Christian? If you can’t remember, isn’t this probably a sign that you are confident of your own goodness and righteousness? If you regularly bat this away and insist that you have the right attitude, shouldn’t this be a warning sign to you?
The second key is to speak God’s Word to yourself and with others. Read 19:14 NLT. If we want to be changed by God’s Word, we need to focus on it. And nothing helps us to focus on it like meditating on it when we are alone, and speaking about it when we are with others.
Meditation is repeating something to yourself, pondering on it, obsessing on it. Every day, you’re meditating on things. What are you meditating on? Is it how people disappointed or offended you? Is it what you fear may happen to you? Is it just trivial stuff like sports statistics or shopping wish-lists? If your meditations are made up mostly of these things, you will reap increasing resentment or anxiety or the discontent that comes from self-indulgent lust.
There is another option – you can begin to use some of your time alone to meditate on God’s Word. You can memorize short passages that you love, and carry them around with you, and say them back to yourself, and turn them into prayers of thanks and/or petition and/or intercession. This will unleash the power of God’s Word to refresh and strengthen and soften your heart! Ask God to help you make the meditation of your heart more about His Word – and take a step in this direction this week!
“The words of my mouth” refer to what I converse with others about. Conversation is a form of social meditation. Every day, you’re conversing about things. What are you conversing about? Is it how certain people bug you? It is what you don’t like about your job? Is it things like the weather, sports, how the kids have been behaving? Some of these conversations are necessary. Some of them are unnecessary and harmful. And some of them are fun. But if this is what dominates your conversation, your soul is missing the food it needs to flourish.
There is another option – you can begin to use some of your conversation time talking about God’s Word. You can share something you’ve learned (or re-learned) recently. You can ask about something in God’s Word you’ve been puzzling over. You can commit to regularly reading and discussing God’s Word with someone. You can discuss what hit you about a teaching you heard recently. This will unleash the power of God’s Word to refresh and strengthen and soften your heart! Ask God to help you make more of your conversation about His Word – and take a step in this direction this week!
See also the videos at: http://tsophotography.tumblr.com/tagged/norway