THE REVELATION OF GOD
ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS we learn in the Bible is that God talks. He is a speaking God. Genesis 1:3 says, “And God said, ‘Let there be light.’” God is not silent. He talks to us.
So how does God speak? Psalm 19 describes how God communicates with human beings.
The first half of Psalm 19 teaches us that God speaks through nature—the heavens reveal God’s glory. This is what we call general revelation—God reveals his power and greatness through nature to all people everywhere.
The second half of Psalm 19 tells us that God speaks through his Word, the Bible. This is a special revelation—God speaks to anyone who picks up and reads the words of this Book.
God speaks to us through the skies and the Scriptures. The message of Psalm 19 is that the glory of God displayed in the heavens points us to the grace of God displayed in the Bible.
C. S, Lewis in his Reflection on the Psalm, refers to the Psalm 19 as “the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world”— that’s heavy duty coming from the professor of English Literature at Oxford, isn’t it?
So, first of all verses 1-6: God reveals himself in creation or nature Or.
1. The Revelation of God in the Skies (1-6)
Verses 1- 6 tell us that God has revealed Himself, in general, through creation and nature (v.1). My friends, what do we see when we look up?
I can picture David staring up at the night sky in verse 1.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Creation has a message for those who notice and think about what they see every day.
Firstly, the focus of these six verses is on what we see when we look up — the heavens and the skies. Of course, God made more than what we see when we look up.
The second thing to see is that these skies “declare” — they “proclaim.” Verse 2: they “pour out speech” (it’s a word for a gushing out); they make known knowledge. God speaks through what he has made, and means for you to hear what he has to say. God is talking to the world all day and all night, every day and every night, everywhere in the world.
Now, third, the message of God through the skies reaches the mind and the heart without the medium of ordinary words or speech. This is hard to explain. David struggles to say it. Notice the paradox between verses 2 and 3.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
In other words, the thing that carries the reality from his heart to my heart — is not written words; it’s not spoken words. Instead, it’s light and color and contrast and shape and proportion and design and motion and magnitude, etc.
So verse 3 says, “There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.” Yet, verse 4 goes back and says the same thing as verse 2 again, yet “Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
Wordless words, speechless speech, voiceless voice. The point is clear: God is pouring forth communication to us through the sky; he is telling and proclaiming and speaking and writing lines and declaring knowledge to everyone who will stop and listen.
And the fourth thing to see is that the message of the sky is about God. The ministry of the sky is a ministry of communication about God. Day and night everywhere in the world God is speaking to all people about Himself. Not about nature — we are not New Age pantheists. God is not nature. Nature is not God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” They were not until he said they should be. What God is speaking about in the sky is beyond the sky, namely, Himself.
The other classic statement on that same point is to be found in Romans 1:19-20:
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse”.
It also means that all people including primitive, atheists, and agnostics know, at some level, about God, truth, meaning, wisdom, and beauty, even if they suppress that knowledge.
Scientist Francis Collins, the director of National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), writes in laymen’s language in his book The Language of God:
We have this very solid conclusion that the universe had an origin, the Big Bang. Fifteen billion years ago, the universe began with an unimaginably bright flash of energy from an infinitesimally small point. That implies that before that, there was nothing. I can’t imagine how nature, in this case the universe, could have created itself. And the very fact that the universe had a beginning implies that someone was able to begin it. And it seems to me that had to be outside of nature.
Sam Harris, in his review of Francis Collins’s book, makes the classic objection to this line of reasoning. “In any case”, he write, “even if we accepted that our universe simply had to be created by an intelligent being, this would not suggest that this being is the God of the Bible”. That is perfectly right. If we are looking at this as an argument proving the existence of personal God or God of the Bible, it doesn’t get us all the way there. However, if we are looking for a clue – a clue that there is something besides the natural world – it is very provocative for many people.
If you are a believer, God has surrounded you with a hymnbook. Wherever you are, day or night, you can look up and see the majesty and power of your God. And you can praise him.
If you are not a believer, you are responsible for what the skies above have been telling you since the day you were born. You ought to worship God. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:20, we are “without excuse”
You may say to yourself, “I don’t hear creation telling me about God.” But think about it this way. If you shout at someone standing five feet away from you and he doesn’t respond, he is either deaf or he is ignoring you. If you don’t see God’s glory in the universe he made, you need the courage and honesty to ask yourself:
Could it be that I am deaf?
Or could it be that I am ignoring God, turning my back on him?
The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”
So we can sum that up like this: the evidence that is provided in creation and so on is enough to render men and women inexcusable when they stand before God and do wrong. But it is not enough to bring them, as they are in sin, to a saving knowledge of God. So the question is: Is there any hope? And the answer is to be found in the second type of revelation of which the Bible speaks, and that is what we call special revelation or the revelation of God in the Scriptures.
2. The Revelation of God in the Scriptures (7-10)
The sky eloquently declares God’s glory, but we cannot truly know God without the clarity of the Scriptures. We can see the power of God by looking at the universe he created, but we can only know him personally through his written Word.
God’s name is mentioned only once in the first half of the psalm—David uses the general name El in verse 1. In the second half of the psalm, David uses God’s name, Yahweh, six times in verses 7–9 and a seventh time in verse 14. God’s name Yahweh is often connected with his covenant and with redeeming his people.
By shifting to the name Yahweh, David is saying that while the heavens teach us there is a glorious Creator, the Scriptures introduce us to God as Redeemer.
Our only hope of knowing God truly is that He should be graciously pleased to reveal Himself to us, and the Christian teaching is that God has done that…. I cannot arrive at God by my own unaided efforts. I am dependent upon God revealing Himself.
The Character of God’s Word
Verses 7–9 describe the perfections of God’s Word and its effects on God’s people.
First, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (v. 7). The word “law” is the Hebrew word torah. Sometimes this refers specifically to the Law of Moses, but here it refers to all Scripture. God’s Word is perfect, complete, blameless, and without blemish. There is nothing missing from God’s Word—it is completely sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
God’s perfect Word brings life to the human heart, “reviving the soul” (v. 7).
On the one hand, the Scriptures convert us. God uses his Word to give us life when we are dead in our sins, restoring us and returning us to our Creator.
There is the sense here that the Law of the Lord is our spiritual food. It is used for food that restores strength and vitality. For example: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The Scriptures were bread and meat for Christ. And the Scriptures are bread and meat for Christians. God’s Word is our life.
You cannot maintain a dynamic, powerful, vibrant life in God if you neglect the Word of God, because “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” The law of the Lord revives the soul. God has made it the means of life. Without it we perish.
Secondly, God’s Word also teaches us: “the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (v. 7). The word “simple” doesn’t mean a fool but someone who is uninstructed. The Bible makes us wise and teaches us how to live.
A wise person is a person whose life makes sense in the light of reality. So for example,
self-denial will look foolish and laying up treasures on earth will look wise only if you are in the dark about the reality of heaven and the rewards of sacrifice. But if you live in the light of the reality of heaven then it makes sense to obey the command of the Lord to deny yourself for his sake. It is the path of wisdom.
The testimony of the Lord makes wise the simple. Wisdom is a life that makes sense in the light of reality. And the light of reality shines from the Bible, not from the God-ignoring world.
Thirdly, “the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart” (v. 8). Notice the progression here. God makes us alive through his Word, makes us wise, and makes us glad.
The Word of God is the best source of deepest and lasting joy. The Word of God rejoices the heart and has an effect in our lives that compares to eating the most enjoyable thing David could think of—fresh honey straight from the comb.
Fourthly, “the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (v. 8). Without God’s Word, we are in the dark. We stumble through life, walking into walls and falling into one ditch after another. With the light of Scripture, we see ourselves and we see the world. The psalmist says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Fifth, in verse 9 David says: “the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever.” The word “clean” often has the sense of being ritually pure. “The fear of the LORD” (v. 9) purifies God’s people. This lasting blessing endures forever, qualifying us to be in his presence for eternity.
Sixth, David ends with this section with a final word: “the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether” (v. 9).
The Value of God’s Word
After rehearsing these six perfections of Scripture, it’s no wonder that David sings about the priceless value of God’s Word.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb. (19:10)
God’s Word is the greatest treasure for those who love him. We love the Bible more than we love money, more than fine gold. God’s Word is our greatest pleasure. Sweet honey represents the pleasure of the senses—
the finest tasting food,
the best-smelling perfume,
the most fashionable clothes,
the fastest cars,
the best new songs. The Bible is better.
If you have a choice between the Word of God and GOLD, choose the Word of God.
If you have a choice between the Word of God and MUCH gold, choose the Word of God.
If you have a choice between the Word of God and much FINE gold, choose the Word of God.
The point is plain. The benefits of knowing and doing the Word of God are greater than all that money can buy.
Do you feel that way? Do you love the Bible and treasure it? If you know God, his Word will be your treasure and your delight.
3. The Obedience of the Servant (11-14)
The final four verses focus our attention on the obedience of God’s servant. He has seen the glory of God in the sky; he treasures the Word of God and obeys it.
God’s Servant Is Innocent of Hidden Sins
Moreover, by them [God’s rules] is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults. (19:11, 12)
The KJV says in verse 12, “cleanse thou me from secret faults.” But this verse does not say anything about cleansing.
David is not asking God to forgive his sin. Forgiveness is not mentioned in these verses at all. David is asking God to review or examine his inner life and declare him innocent. As God examines him, a fair review of the evidence will lead to his acquittal.
None of us could say that. Our secret sins are no secret to God. Only Jesus alone obeyed God faithfully in the depths of his heart; as a prophet, David spoke for him. If we have hidden sins, and we do, we need a Savior like Jesus who obeyed with every thought and every glance of his eyes. He can forgive our sin and teach us to obey from the heart.
God’s Servant Is Innocent of Willful Sins
God’s servant is also innocent of intentional sins. It would be nice if we could say that our sins are all just accidents, that we didn’t mean to disobey. But that is not true. We decide to sin more often than we care to admit. David refers to these willful sins.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression. (19:13)
David appeals to God for strength to obey, and he asks to be kept “blameless” (v. 13). As a prophet, David is again speaking for Christ. Jesus was fully God, and he was also fully man, a human being like you and me. As a man he prayed to the Father for strength not to sin during his earthly life.
The word “blameless” in 19:13 is the same word that describes God’s Word in Psalm 19:7, “The law of the LORD is perfect [blameless].” In other words, the servant in Psalm 19 has the same blameless, complete, perfect character as God’s Word itself! Jesus is in fact the Word of God incarnate, “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3a). After speaking through the Law and the Prophets, God spoke his final word through his Son. Psalm 19 anticipates this stunning reality as the servant shares the same blameless character as the Word of God.
Psalm 19 ends with the servant’s closing prayer.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (19:14)
Since Jesus was acceptable in God’s sight, we can be saved. Since he was innocent, he could die for sinners like you and me. God vindicated Jesus and declared that he is innocent by raising him from the dead.
We need to turn to him and be forgiven. The skies and the Scripture point us to Christ, the one man who truly obeyed God.
We all see the glory of God in the sky. We have the Word of God in the Scriptures. We ought to obey them perfectly, but we don’t. Jesus was the one man who did. Jesus Christ is the great Servant who was “blameless, and innocent of great transgression” (19:13). He could appeal to God with complete confidence and say, “Declare me innocent from hidden faults” (19:12). The words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart were acceptable in God’s sight. Psalm 19 is a window into the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.