Because in scripture God reveals Himself
God does display His glory through natural revelation, which is to say through His creation. The Heavens declare His glory, His handiwork, and even to some extent the knowledge of God! They do. vs.1
In fact, space is not just space, it’s not empty- but it’s filled with a display and revelation of the glory of God as Creator. And God’s glory is not something stagnant. It’s not like it could be contained or displayed completely just in the mere existence of creation alone. In fact, God wants us to know that He is so glorious as Creator that He continues to reveal more and more of His glory, unfolding it and revealing Himself day by day, and night by night. In the seasons, the years, the months, and even the days- God reveals a wisdom, a knowledge of Himself in His creation to us as Creator.vs.2
Not only is God’s glory so great, so uncontainable, so infinite- that His glory cannot be contained in creation alone, but His revelation is beyond language, beyond the normal means of human communication- to everyone that desires to hear what God has to say about His own glory through creation: He speaks. vs.3-4a As Francis Schaeffer put it so eloquently about our God in one of his titles, He Is There and He Is Not Silent!
“When a man, from beholding and contemplating the heavens has been brought to acknowledge God, he will learn also to reflect upon and admire his wisdom and power as displayed on the face of the earth, not only in general, but even in the minutest plants.” -John Calvin
So also does the sun speak of God’s glory. vs. 4b-5
The psalmist paints us this beautiful picture of the sun, like a bridegroom, like a strong young man on his wedding day, running with joy for His bride. So like this, the sun rises every morning with joy and with strength- and in this glory of God that the sun reveals, there are no words to describe completely (although the Spirit gave David as beautiful a picture as I could imagine), nor are words necessary, because vs.6
Nothing is hidden from it’s heat.
Nature reveals the glory of God, the handiwork of God, and even some extent of the knowledge of God as Creator, but this is by no means the whole story. In vs. 7 we see a shift here, from the revelation of God as Creator through creation, to the very direct, personally revealed law of God from the personal covenant God Yahweh; the Lord Himself!
Before we move on to the law of the Lord, I want to point something out here about where we just came from in this psalm (the glory of God revealed through nature), to where we are going: Vs. 6 describes the intense heat of the sun, a part of God’s glorious creation which reveals how awesome He is- from which no one can hide, “Nothing is hidden from it’s heat”, there is no escaping it! And then, the psalmist takes us directly to God’s law. There is a powerful connection here right from the start, when we talk about God’s law, when we talk about scripture, we are not just talking about words cross community:
“The law itself can be life-imparting or scorching”-Richard Belcher Jr.
The law dominates human life just as the sun dominates the sky! When we get to vs. 11 we will see that it is because of this, because the word of God is inescapable, just as the heat of the sun is- no one can either escape the awareness and consciousness of our own sins if we have truly encountered the word of God.
Law & Scripture: The word translated law here in most translations comes from the Hebrew word torah, and its a special word, but here is what you need to know: it’s a word that means more than just scripture (although scripture is included in God’s law or torah), but also- His law includes His ways and His works. And how does God tell us about His ways and His works? Through His word; through scripture.
So, when we read these different synonyms for God’s word here tonight, specifically Psalm 19, we need to understand that there are several different words used to describe scripture here, law, testimony, precepts, commandments, fear, and rules. These are each synonyms, each one is not for us to see scripture as somehow in different categories, but rather to show the completeness of God’s word, and how all of the words of the Lord have such special, purposeful, and comprehensive, or all encompassing meaning. The word of God covers everything we could ever need it to cover!
In the Old Testament, under the Old Covenant, the law was the central foundation of
Jewish life, the central foundation for the people of God. But there is a new covenant,
and so everyone today who seeks to live of life as the people of God must see Christ as
the foundation of Christian life- and here is where it gets personal Cross Community,
and friends. We worship the risen Lord, we worship Jesus, we want to know the Father,
we want to get real, get personal, spend time with the Triune God Today, we can hear
directly from Jesus Christ. Where God spoke to Israel through His law, today He speaks
to us through His Son. Jesus is the fullness of the the glory of God, the exact imprint in
Jesus is the word, John 1:1, John 1:14
Jesus is the fullness of God’s revelation- so everything that can be said about the law, can also be said about Jesus and the gospel!
And this is just one of the many reasons why this psalm is so beautiful, because everything that is true about the scripture, the word of God, is also true about Christ! So as we travel through this psalm, I want to challenge you with this thought: what the Lord reveals about His word here, is not just what His word has for us- but what He has for us. Let us not just read scripture, but let us encounter Christ in His word- and all He has for us.
So, why should we personally engage scripture on our own time? After all, we have church, we have TBN, we have Air1, we have the internet, we have our pastors and teachers; why should we also spend our own time reading scripture? Well, God reveals four clear and powerful reasons, promises, blessings, that ought to drive us to not just read, but really genuinely desire and hunger to engage scripture.
We should engage scripture to encounter Christ, who is perfect in reviving our soul!
vs.7a Scripture revives the soul!
Not only is scripture perfect (but it might be better understood in this context as complete), because it is perfect and complete in this purpose: in reviving the soul. There is nothing in this world that is perfect (except for God), and right here we have His perfect word. Not only is it perfect mind you, but it is perfect in the purpose of reviving our souls!
Jesus Christ is perfect, complete, and whole, and is the One who makes us whole! Heb 9:14: It is He who “by His blood, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God,” and here we have the revelation of Jesus Christ Himself, for this purpose: to purify our conscience and revive our souls! People spend their whole lives, money, time, seeking out for the perfect fix to take away their sorrows, to make them happy, to… whatever. Usually when we do that, we are just scratching the surface. How many of us would like to have our soul revived? Refreshed, healed? We have the word of God right here, and He Christ is able and willing to do so for us; even through His word.
By the way, if you have the King James Version your translation probably reads converting the soul, which is also accurate: this word means not only reviving and refreshing, but coming back to life! Revival from death even! Because it is the word of God that spoke to Israel in the Old Testament, repent and live. It is Jesus that spoke in the New Testament and said your sins are forgiven. It is the Lord Jesus who said your faith has made you whole! It is Him who spoke the words “Lazarus, come forth!” And scripture is perfect in performing the will of God- even for bringing mankind-dead in their sins- to life!
Now get this, not only is scripture perfect in refreshing, reviving, and healing the soul- but it is perfect in doing so continuously! It never dries up! It is an endless source for daily revival. The Hebrew word for reviving here is continuous, which means guess what: scripture is complete for the daily revival of our soul. Daily!
Now, guess what else this means, remember that scripture is both God’s ways and His works revealed to us. His way; not ours- which is to say that His way is not for us to get up each morning and will-power through our day with just enough coffee, Dr. Pepper, facebook, Black-eyed peas on the radio… whatever else we think gives us a little boost, comfort, or refreshing. No, His way is for us to be completely revived in our soul; by His word.
If you remember, Jesus Christ our Lord went through the greatest temptation ever; and rather than feeding Himself with bread (created out of stones), which He could have done; said what? Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
So, we should engage scripture to encounter Christ and to have our souls revived, but also secondly, to be made wise!
vs.7b Scripture makes man wise! It is sure, again, scripture is a faithful testimony and witness of God Himself. It is sure for a purpose, the purpose of making us wise. Making us wise about what? Some of you might be thinking, why do I care about wisdom? Because this wisdom is not of this world, this wisdom comes from the direct, personal testimony of God Almighty! This is perhaps one of the most glorious statements in the whole book of Psalms. Think about it, the Creator of the universe, totally infinite being, speaks to us (tiny little finite beings, although eternal) about Himself, about us, and about His world- everything we need to know that matters- right here.
And when the Lord tells us that His word is sure in making wise the simple, well, that should encourage us if we are humble.. but for some us it may be a time of conviction. Scripture is sure to make wise he or she that comes to God’s word ready hear from God; which means recognizing that we are not. 1 Cor 3:18
Now the word testimony here describes scripture, the testimony of the Lord is what God tells us about Himself, about us, and about His law and His gospel- and we know (because He tells us), that it is sure. It is a sure thing, it is completely true, because again, what is true of scripture, is true of Christ. It is He who is our faithful witness (Rev 1:5), it is He who testifies to us through scripture. This means that everything that God reveals to us about Himself, His holiness, His character, His grace, His mercy, His love- and also what He tells us about ourselves, fallen, desperately in need of a Savior, is perfectly true. Perhaps most importantly, the testimony of the Lord is sure in His testimony of the Gospel, His plan in which He crucified His Son Jesus- so that we might be not just converted and brought back to life in our soul- but daily refreshed by, fully enjoying, and living eternally in His glorious presence!
Thirdly, we should encounter Christ through scripture because by His word He gives us joy!
We should engage scripture to find joy!
vs.8a Scripture gives joy!
The precepts, the commandments, what the Lord tells us to do in His word, they are right. They are right, they are the perfect and the right path, the right direction, they are the only way, because they are the way of the One who is the Way. John 14:6 Which is to say by the way, that all other precepts and rules that are inconsistent or opposed to scripture are the wrong way. But listen, not only are the precepts or commandments of scripture right, look at the tremendous blessing that God has for us when we live read them, live them, and breathe them- they are right for rejoicing the heart! They bring us joy, as Jesus Himself came so that we might have joy, and life! Jesus, the Faithful Witness said Himself, not only is He the Way and the Truth, but the Life!. Spurgeon said, the commandments of God are like a doctor that prescribes the right medicine, the Lord prescribes what the heart of man needs!
By the way, as we consider what the Lord’s commands and the blessings that flow from hearts obeying them, I want to challenge you and suggest that not only are these precepts right for rejoicing the heart of individuals. Not only are the Lord’s commands right for the life of the individual, but also for the family, for His Church, and for the community. Think about it: if every Christian were to follow the commands of God to love their neighbor, to honor their mother and father, not to kill – would their not be more rejoicing in not only the hearts of individuals; but in families, the church, and communities? Would there not be more life? Less unnecessary death?
We should engage God’s word, and let His precepts engage and His grace enable us to live out His precepts not just in our families and in the body of Christ- but in the community. There are people right here in this city that no not what rejoicing is! That no not what life is, because they don’t know Him who is the right way, the truth, and the Life, as revealed through scripture.
We should engage scripture for direction
vs.8b Scripture is given so that we might see, it is the light to our path. There are a lot of questions in life that become blurred, difficult to determine what is right or wrong, which direction to turn. Scripture is clear, its pure- and if we will only engage it with a heart that recognizes our need for the wisdom God has for us, He will enlighten us.
One God- One people (line of Noah). God created by His very breath His people, made in His image: Abortion. Honor your mother and Father: Ministry to elderly: Euthanasia
We should encounter Christ through scripture for pure and eternal blessings
vs.9 The fear of the Lord here can best be described as how scripture teaches us to fear Him. To fear, honor, and love God through scripture is clean, and the Lord adds that this holy fear and the cleanness it promises endure forever.
Again, what is true of scripture, is true of Christ. There is no one on earth, nothing in existence, apart from the One who is clean (Jesus Christ), that can make us clean.
Matthew 8:2-3 Like the leper, we were born defiled and sinful, and even if redeemed, we can still fall to filthy, defiling sins! But it is Christ alone who can make us clean. We can encounter Him daily and learn a healthy fear of our holy God. Like the leper- we can kneel before our Redeemer and beg for Him to make us whole daily- and by His eternal word; He is able to make us clean.
We should encounter Christ through His word, because His rules are true and righteous!
vs.9b Which is to say that anything apart from His word (especially as pertains to rules of faith, religion, and claims of truth) that claims to be truth, is a lie! And completely and altogether unrighteous.
If you had to place a value on His word, on all that scripture promises: the rebirth and revival of our soul, wisdom, eternal joy, direction.. how much would you consider it worth? Well, David tells us that we should desire scripture, more so than the most valuable things on earth! vs.10a
The Holy Spirit allows David to get personal here, David tells us that scripture is to be desired more than two of what just may be the most common desires of man: food and money. The finest of gold, the best there is.. the most valuable metal in the Ancient Near East at the time, more than that says David, we should desire God’s word. Because what God has for us, what He has for us in scripture- is infinitely better than our most desired car, house, vacation- whatever! Then he compares scripture to the desires of his sweet tooth! Better than the finest honey he says.
What do you desire the most? What do you hunger for, what are you willing to shell out the big bucks for? What would you grab a bowl of when you want comfort, refreshment? What are you driven to when you want happiness? If we are turning somewhere apart from scripture- we haven’ looked first to what God has given us, our daily bread, to provide us with all of these blessings!
Finally, we should encounter Christ through scripture because..
Scripture convicts: vs.11-12a do you remember how we saw that there is no escaping the heat of the sun ( a reflection of God’s glory), and just as much; there is no escaping the law (scripture), everyone is either warmed by it or scorched by it? Well here the psalmist reflects on the conviction that comes from encountering Christ, His holiness, and the perfect word of God.
It is without question: as we encounter Christ in His word, just as there is no one or nothing on earth that escapes the reach of the sun, there is not one ounce of man, no area of our heart, no realm of our mind which is able to escape the penetration of God’s holy and perfect word.
Let’s get real here about fear:
On a real practical level, it is quite likely that many of us will refuse to go to God’s word, we will hide from it, because of our own sin, maybe even for fear of God revealing to us deep sins of the recesses of our heart and mind. Things we don’t even want to think about let alone have God point out to us directly!
Some of you may be thinking- holy cow, that doesn’t make me want to engage scripture, that makes me want to hide from it! But here’s the deal, let me challenge you and encourage you at the same time:
a) First, there is nothing or no-one hidden from the heat of the sun, the reach of the law, or the truth of scripture. So, whether we engage it our not, you cannot hide from His word (but I would submit that you can stay out of reach of the blessings of it)
b) Second, while this truth is likely if we truly reflect on it to bring us to fear, this is a healthy fear, a fear that the Lord tells us here in vs. 9 is clean and eternal, this is a good, godly, healthy fear that is the beginning of wisdom.
Finally, when we in Christ come to engage scripture in faith and confidence, we ought not to fear His holiness, because we have no need of fearing His judgment. Because if we come to scripture to encounter Christ, the One who is perfect and holy; then there is mercy and forgiveness. There is revival of the soul. The same holy God who convicts us through His scripture is also the One who makes us clean- and He is faithful in His mercy, He will revive us once again. Therefore, as the scriptures command us in Hebrews 14:6: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
David closes with a prayer, and I’d like to close with this prayer. But before we do, I want to encourage you once more. Scripture is perfect and all encompassing in all of these truths we just walked through, and so is Christ, the One who works His word in us. But just as David here reveals his imperfections and was not the perfect picture of holiness in a day, neither will we be. David was a great man of God, capable by the Lord’s enabling to do great things by God’s will. But because of the fall, because of sin, he was also quite capable of (and did) sin greatly.
It has been said that the disciples were a handful of men, that transformed by Christ through His teaching and His power turned the world upside down. Well, we should remember that Jesus spend three years making disciples out of them full time, and many of us only engage scripture and encounter Christ part time- if that. But His word is perfect in it’s purpose, and He is worthy of our time, our commitment, and our encounter: let’s engage Him and trust Him to make us and mold us into His disciples.
I would encourage you to pray vs.12b-14