30th October 2011
God has spoken.
Written by David, this Psalm is all about God’s revelation of Himself. It is in three distinct sections:
1. God is revealed in nature: verses 1-6
2. God is revealed in scripture: verses 7-11
3. God is revealed in experience: verses 12-14
1: The revelation of God in nature:
Kant said “there are two things of perennial wonder, the starry sky and the moral law.” David in the psalm begins with the first of those wonders, the wonder of nature. He declares that God tells mankind much of Himself in and through nature. This is what the theologians call “general revelation,” that is it displays something of God’s character which is plain for all of mankind to observe and learn. David had much experience of outdoor life, his formative years being as a shepherd. He had spent many days and nights out in the fields; therefore he had a great knowledge of nature and the universe. Clearly as he had observed the changing patterns of night to day and winter to summer with all of the transitional periods between each of them David had come to a clear understanding of God through what he saw.
So what did he see of God as he looked at nature?
His glory. (vs.1)
His creative work. (vs.1)
His word. (vs.2)
Knowledge of Him. (vs.2)
His voice which is universal. (vs.3-4)
His omnipotence: God is all powerful in His control over nature. (vs.4b-6)
His provision through nature: the heat of the sun being a great example. (vs.6)
As we read these words we cannot help but think of Romans 1:19-20:
“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
As Paul wrote those words he clearly had scriptures such as Psalm 19 in mind and so he applied what David taught from his experience in Psalm 19. David tells us that God reveals His character through creation and Paul teaches that because of general revelation mankind is without excuse before God. This means that they will not be able to hide behind ignorance of Him on the day of judgement! They have seen his glory every time they have looked up into the sky. Every time they think of the vastness of the universe and when they wonder at the beauty of a tiny bird or they consider the pent up power in every little atom. Every time their well worked out theories are foiled by new discoveries. Every time they think of particles that break the light barrier and have to re-think all of their theories of relativity what they are really doing is seeing the glory of God who is the creator that many of the people of today are desperate to deny. They are without excuse; God is plain to see in all of these things and so much more. Day and night creation is pleading with them to:
“COME AND LEARN OF GOD FROM WHAT YOU SEE!”
He is there to be seen all across the world by the educated and the uneducated alike, by rich and poor, male and female young and old, all can learn of Him and His majesty from His handiwork. You do not need to know much about art to know a Constable from a Picasso; they both obvious by their handiwork which has the artists signature in every brush-stroke! That is just what David teaches us about God; His signature is throughout His work of creation, it is unmistakable!
2: The revelation of God in scripture:
There are six different aspects that the Psalm teaches us of God.
1. The law of the Lord. (vs.7)
2. The statutes (AV = testimony) of the Lord. (vs.7)
3. The precepts (AV = statutes) of the Lord. (vs.8)
4. The commands of the Lord. (vs.8)
5. The fear of the Lord. (vs.9)
6. The ordinances (AV = judgements) of the Lord. (vs.9)
Each of these scriptural revelations teaches us vital lessons of God and his character.
The Law of the Lord is perfect, it is without fault, it never errs from the truth it is the very word of God. It has been recorded and written down by men of old under God’s supervision. It is as the theologians tell us wholly infallible, perfect and without fault. That is what David first declares and then he tells us what the law does:
It revives the soul!
Firstly we know that it reveals sin to unbelievers and then God revives the soul of those who respond to the call of the law! But it also revives the soul of flagging Christians. It speaks of God’s perfection, it reveals our sinfulness and to believers. The law in turn reminds us of the grace that God has extended to us in Christ Jesus.
The statutes or testimony of the Lord are trustworthy. They are totally reliable.
But what are the statutes?
A statute is simply a law passed by a government or by an absolute authority. In our case it is a divine directive. Testimony would have worked well when the AV was first produced but language is organic and some words develop and change emphasis. “Statutes” in modern language says what David is teaching but that word needs probably updating to something like dictates or directives. More importantly what do they actually do?
They make the simple wise!
Compared to God the Lawgiver all mankind are simple and so the directives of God make man wise. Wisdom in scripture always refers to a saving relationship with God. David is saying that God’s statutes bring us into fellowship with Him. What are His dictates? Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved!
The precepts or statutes (AV) are right. They have no error in them!
But again what are they?
They are simply rules for action! They need obeying, there is absolutely nothing wrong in the expectation that God has. The way that He expects mankind to live is perfectly right and good. So what do God’s rules do?
They make us rejoice or happy!
This is no promise of jollity but it is all about true happiness. Remember the beatitudes; the blessed of Jesus. The Greek word used for blessed is equally translated as happy. To live a truly happy life is to be obedient to God. We saw something of that joy in Stephen this morning as he was martyred. He saw the Lord in glory; he saw heaven open and he happily went there! Why the joy? Simply because he was obedient to the precepts of God even to the detriment of personal safety and security!
The commands of the Lord are radiant, they open blinded eyes. We think of the Apostle Paul when he saw the radiance of God he was blinded by the experience but when he obeyed the commands of God, or when he finally confessed that he did not know who the Lord really was. Then when he came in submission to the Lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ Paul may well have been physically blind but the radiance of the glory of God shone into his heart and from then he had clear spiritual sight! The commands of the Lord open blinded spiritual eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, it is perfect! It is nothing like fear of the bully that makes us do just what he wants of us mercilessly. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; it is simple trust in Him for everything for life; for provision, for salvation, for everything that is necessary!! David then continues to teach us something great importance:
Our salvation is permanent!
It endures forever! Nothing and nobody can ever separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus. Christians; the security of our salvation is not a concept drawn from the pen of Calvin, he simply taught what the whole of the bible teaches. Our salvation cannot be taken from us, whatever men might say!
The ordinances or judgements of the Lord are sure and righteous altogether! The overall decrees of God are without fault. Here I think that the AV is more helpful, God judges perfectly and righteously and His judgements are without error. He has revealed Himself by His word and in that there is great benefit:
It is precious. Worth more than gold or even life to us!
It keeps us on the straight and narrow.
God’s word is what we all need in order that we live the life that God intends for us.
3: The revelation of God in our experience:
Our Christian experience teaches us all about God’s grace.
The Psalm reminds us that we cannot even deal with our own wilfulness; the things that we shouldn’t do we do, and the things that we should do we do not do! Is that not our experience but since the day of our conversion that has changed! We now have the scripture that directs us and if we obey it we live right before God. Therefore we should strive to live under the authority of scripture. Scripture teaches us our errors, it warns us but our testimony is also of great purpose because it reminds us of God’s amazing grace and the great rewards that we have in Him. Our testimony is powerful in that it reminds us that we are only what we are because of God’s grace, for it is by grace that we are saved for the glory of God! We need to continue in grace; pleading for help to overcome our sinful nature and thus to be pleasing to God Himself!
Our continuing prayer should therefore always be:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.”
I am grateful to David for writing this Psalm because it reminds us that in the whole of creation we can see God’s handiwork in which He displays His Majesty. In the scripture He reveals His law which is vital for our relationship with Him, and in our own experience we know our own faults and that shows us just how much grace we have received and need for everyday life!