Stepping into the Psalms
Part IV: Revealing God
March 17, 2013
* Spent night at FH; H2H announcement.
* Marriage RX
* Mid-Week service help
* Communication Card
SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 19:1-4a
THE GLORY OF GOD IN CREATION
When I worked at STARBUCKS, I was frequently in DRIVE THROUGH, which was kind of fun and had a great view of Mt. Baker.
Sometimes, while I was waiting for a car to pull up, I could take just a couple of seconds and enjoy seeing it lit up pink by the sunrise.
* In that moment, I would whisper a word of praise.
Growing up in the NORTHWEST, I think I understand something of the MAJESTY of God that some from the plains just can’t. Yet, I think they understands his expansiveness more than I can.
* Jen Singer/ “MONTANA SKY.”
Likewise, some who lived grew up in NYC may be able to understand something about the DIVERSITY of God.
In that same why, the BIBLICAL AUTHORS, who grew up in an age BEFORE ELECTRICITY, when almost everyone living in the country, knew something about the glory of God that we don’t.
Q How often have you been able to get out, away from LIGHT POLLUTION and just look up at the stars?
Imagine seeing that EVERY NIGHT, that it is the norm to see trillions of stars.
* I want our FIRST RESPONSE to Psalm 19 to be worship, not study, to step into it and EXPERIENCE GOD.
BRING TO MIND a time you were struck by the heavens as we read this again.
Psalm 19:1-6 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
Notice the IRONY here – nature pours forth speech, there is no language where their voice is not heard.
* Nature SHOUTS SILENTLY – easy to ignore for those for those who wish to, but overwhelming for those who listen.
Sometimes whispering is the LOUDEST WAY to speak – to those who want to hear.
Q Do you WANT to hear God?
Q Are you trying to DROWN his OUT with your busyness?
But in the end, he CANNOT be IGNORED.
I can lay out all of the REASONS I BELIEVE in God, Jesus, and the Bible, but at the most ELEMENTARY LEVEL is the fact that I cannot look at all of this and believe that it simply happened.
Romans 1:20-23 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. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
The SURROUNDING NATIONS had hymns like this where nature is personified, but there was a key difference: They worshiped NATURE AS GODS, but in Psalm 19 NATURE is WORSHIPS God.
* Modern HUMANISM basically does the same thing – PERSONIFIES chance and EVOLUTION and worships it.
In contrast, we say, “Look how amazing nature is – how much GREATER must the CREATOR be.
There is even LESS EXCUSE for the modern pagan – they know full well their personification to be a MYTH, yet still REFUSE to GLORIFY God.
* And so nature becomes a SILENT WITNESS, a revelation of God.
But it is NOT ENOUGH.
The heavens declare the glory of the Lord, but they tell you almost nothing about WHAT HE is LIKE.
* We see great LOVE in this world, but also great CRUELTY – is God like the MOTHER and CHILD or PREDATOR and PREY?
As loudly as it seems to shout, creation tells us nothing about WHO WE ARE.
* Are we just an ADVANCE ANIMAL? Does our death matter anymore than the death of a fish?
* Does this God regard us as any different than a MONKEY?
And even as the SUN RUNS its COURSE and gives light and life, it tells us nothing about what GOD expects of us.
* If this God does want to know us, what PLEASES him and what ANGERS him?
Nature provides “GENERAL REVELATION.” It tells us God is great and powerful, but little else. For us to know more, he has to tell us, he has to give “SPECIAL REVELATION.”
* And this is specifically what we believe he has done on SEVERAL very important OCCASIONS.
At first, the next section seems out of place:
Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Q How do you go from nature to the law?
If this were talking about the BIBLE, this would make more sense. But he is talking about the LAW: Don’t commit adultery, don’t eat bacon, get circumcised, take Saturdays off.
* In fact, many (most?) PREACHERS avoid this by SUBTLY SHIFTING from the law to the Bible.
But it is specifically God’s law, the MOSAIC COVENANT as David knew it, that David is praising. Not just praising – this practically a LOVE SONG to the law.
Q What is going on? Is DAVID SELF-RIGHTEOUS? Is he one of the legalist Galatians attacks?
Q Or does he KNOW something WE DON’T?
As we have been studying Galatians, Paul is dealing with the MISUSE of the law, attempting to use it to earn God’s favor and merit God’s grace. That is the abuse of the law.
* Here we find the PROPER USE of the law and why David was so happy about it – it ANSWERS the very QUESTIONS NATURE CANNOT.
As PROTESTANTS, we are far too quick to IGNORE what was the most important part of the Bible to the authors of the Bible. Let’s learn more about that.
1. The law reveals what God is like
When he says that:
Psalm 19:8-9 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
David isn’t just talking about how right and pure and righteous the law is, he is also talking about the LAWGIVER.
To understand God’s character as we read, we have to REMOVE our 21ST CENTURY, western world GLASSES and put on 12TH CENTURY BC, Ancient Near East GLASSES.
* BTW: The reason we have the MORALS we do is because of these laws – “JUDEO-CHRISTIAN ETHICS.”
Knowing about ANE CULTURE and that most of the ANCIENT GODS were capricious and cared very little about humans and justice, we can skim through the OT laws and we see that God is DIFFERENT:
* The SLAVERY laws were much more humane.
* CITIES of REFUGE for manslaughter.
* “EYE for an EYE” limited punishment.
* WOMEN were granted rights.
Even more importantly, through the SACRIFICES, God demonstrates that he is both JUST and MERCIFUL. He requires us to be HOLY and LOVING as he is, but also provides forgiveness when we fail.
2. We the law reveals who we are.
The law also tells us who we are – we are NOT MERE ANIMALS acting on impulse and without restraint. God made as conscience and moral beings and he expect us to act on that.
* The Noahic covenant demonstrates that God expects ALL HUMANITY to behave itself.
Even more importantly, his commands show that the JEWS first, and now us as their heirs, have a SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP with God.
* These laws demonstrated their UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP with God that no one else had – they are SPECIAL, in a good way.
They’re like the TALENTED KID who can’t go out to PLAY because she’s practicing to be the world’s YOUNGEST OLYMPIC athlete.
ISRAEL is meant for something SPECIAL; they have a special ROLE in God’s plan, so he has to work them, keep them SEPARATE so they can be a LIGHT to the nations.
As we read, you may notice that the covenant commands are a MIXTURE of ETHICAL and RITUAL laws, the 10 Commandments on one hand and kosher laws on the other.
These RITUAL LAWS were about demonstrating WHO BELONGED, who was IN and who was OUT. They were BOUNDARY MARKERS, showing who was part of God’s community.
* You DIDN’T keep the Law to be SAVED but demonstrate you were PART of the covenant COMMUNITY – that’s how you were saved.
Q Let’s now move into TODAY: Do these RITUAL BOUNDARY MARKERS still apply to us? Can we eat BACON?
Q If not, has something TAKEN their PLACE to keep us separate?
We can eat PORK without being EXCOMMUNICATED, we don’t have to get CIRCUMCISED before getting baptized, and chopping firewood on SABBATH is no longer a CAPITAL offence.
Q Do we still have BOUNDARY MARKERS?
Yes – by fulfilling the law, Jesus didn’t make things EASIER, he made them HARDER, because he took it from EXTERNAL to INTERNAL:
* Getting CIRCUMCISED as an ADULT would be no fun, but LOVING your NEIGHBOR as yourself is way HARDER.
Our markers are the work God had done IN US, the way he has CHANGED our HEARTS:
* Identity in him, not stuff or position.
* The fruit of the Spirit.
Q HOW are you different? What marks you as child of God?
3. The law what God wants us to do.
The law can be SUMMED UP as “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
* In the law, we learn SPECIFIC WAYS we can do all that.
Not only that, but as we learn to obey, we learn that OBEDIENCE brings JOY (as we said last week).
* God is a PARENT that wants to SAVE us from HEARTACHE is we’ll let him.
The LONGER I LIVE and the MORE I SEE, the more clearly I see God’s RULES are acts of LOVE. Just think through YOUR LIFE – at all the PAIN you’ve experienced because of IGNORING God’s rules.
* Like when we learn to eat better we learn that GOOD FOOD TASTES BETTER, so obedience resets our desires:
Psalm 19:10-11 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
FEAR OF THE LORD
The problem is we ONLY TRUST God as far as we can SEE. I believe that ADULTERY will make me miserable, but what will I do about the COMMANDS I DON’T UNDERSTAND?
All of you know what I am talking about – things you know that BIBLE CONDEMNS, yet you CAN’T UNDERSTAND how that thing hurts you. WHAT DO you do then?
* Whenever we CHOOSE to SIN, it is because we DON’T BELIEVE that God’s way is BEST or that he has our BEST in MIND.
This is where the fear of the Lord comes in – we TRUST HIM and his say MORE than we TRUST OURSELVES. In faith we say:
Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
Can YOU SEE why David would DELIGHT in the Mosaic Law, and that WE too should DELIGHT in God’s law?
The law of the LORD is perfect, it shows us how GOOD, LOVING, and just he is.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, they teach us RIGHT from WRONG and save me from a WORLD of HURT.
The commands of the LORD are radiant, they show the world that we are CHILDREN of God and has GREAT PLANS for us.
This goes back to what I said last week – God’s commands our for our joy, not misery.
* Please text Sunday School Teachers ; service is almost over
But we are not at the end of the psalm: Nature and the law revels God to us, but they also REVELS US to OURSELVES.
* We FALL so SHORT of God’s greatness reveled in nature and his goodness reveled in the law.
Psalm 19:12-14 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Again, we “STEP INTO” the Psalms, experiencing nature as it declares God’s glory and also as it exalts God’s law.
* Like David (and Paul) the moment we say “God’s law is good,” with the next breath we say, “but I have FAILED to keep it.”
All the DELIGHT in nature and attempted OBEDIENCE to God is WORSE than USELESS if it does not lead you back to him, to GRACE and RELATIONSHIP.
Psalm 19 must lead to PRAYERS of EXPECTANT DEPENDENCY:
* Prayers for God’s FORGIVENESS for all our sins, known and unknown
* Prayers for God’s POWER to overcome sin.
* Prayers of THANKSGIVING knowing he will answer.