© Eric M Schumacher – Preached March 18, 2007 at
In Psalm 19, David speaks to us about two books (so to speak) in which the Lord is revealed to us: the book of the heavens (general revelation) and the book of God’s Word (special revelation).
Compared with earth, our sun is enormous. Its diameter is 864,000 miles. In terms of mass, it is 332,000 times bigger than earth. On its surface, it burns at 6,000 degrees Centigrade. It travels at 155 miles per second.
Yet, in comparison with other stars, our sun is a modest star. It is one of 100 billion stars in our galaxy. Our galaxy is about 100,000 light-years in diameter—587-trillion miles. Given enough time, it would take the sun 200 million years to complete a revolution around the galaxy. Ours is one of a million such galaxies in range of our most powerful telescopes.
That is just a brief introduction to the size and vastness of our universe. What does this universe mean?
The characters in the popular 1990’s cartoon The Animaniacs, in a song about the universe, sang, “It’s a great big universe and we’re all really puny. We’re just tiny little specks about the size of Mickey Rooney.” They concluded, “It’s a great universe and we’re not.”
For some, that is all there is to be concluded when looking at the universe—in light of the size of the universe, we are small and insignificant, our lives don’t matter. This thought can lead to hopelessness and a sense of meaninglessness.
The mistake that scientists and tenth-grade science students make when they make this conclusion is not that we are small and insignificant. The mistake lies in the assumption that the universe exists to say something about us. It flows from the fallen, idolatrous condition of the human heart that assumes that we are central to the universe and everything revolves around us.
Stephen Curtis Chapman gets it right in his song “Much of You.” He sings, “How could I stand here / And watch the sun rise / Follow the mountains / Where they touch the sky / Ponder the vastness / And the depths of the sea / And think for a moment / The point of it all was to make much of me / ’Cause I’m just a whisper / And You are the thunder…”
It is About God
Chapman knows what David tells us in Psalm 19: The universe does not exist to speak about us. The heavens exist to speak about God.
David says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
Creation testifies to the glory of God, especially the heavens. The sky above proclaims his handiwork. By saying it proclaims “his” handiwork, it implies “he” is there and that creation is not self-existent.
Handiwork reflects the handyman. Workmanship reflects on the worker. A work of art tells us something about the artist. The heavens declare God’s glory. That is, the heavens show God’s magnitude and magnificence. The Apostle Paul said it this way:
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…
God’s power and nature can be seen in creation:
· The sheer size of the universe reflects the infinite greatness of God.
· The intricacy and precision of the movements of planets says something of God’s wisdom.
· The beauty of the galaxies declares the infinite beauty of our God.
· The consistency of creation speaks volumes of God’s faithfulness.
David continues, “Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”
This tells us that this declaration is unavoidable. During the day, the heavens display the sun, surrounded by a sky of light. During the night, the heavens display the moon, surrounded by the stars.
Nothing can stop the display of God’s glory. One can always behold the sun or light or moon or stars. The heavens are always “speaking,” always “revealing knowledge.” God’s glory is always being proclaimed.
Speech That is Seen
But, the scoffer might respond, “I can’t hear them!” The NIV, KJV say “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” Meaning that everyone there are people who speak, the voice of the heavens is heard.
But, this verse literally reads, “no speech, no words, without their voice being heard.” David means that when he says “day to day pours out speech” he is not speaking in literal terms. He does not mean that the heavens literally speak with words or with a voice that is heard
The “speech” that David speaks of is not acoustic or audible, but pictoral. You see this speech. Every time you gaze at the sky, you are seeing testimony to the glory of God.
This Belongs to the LORD!
The heavens declare something more than God’s glory alone. David continues, “Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
The word that some translations translate as “voice,” is a word used for a “measuring line.” The idea of a measuring line can mean “a line used to mark off.” It can be used to mark off land to indicate possession, such as a property line.
So, where does the Creator’s property line run? Everywhere the heavens can be seen. The sun, the light in the sky, the moon, the stars all declare, “This belongs to the LORD! He is the sovereign King who reigns over this land!”
When the sun runs its course from the east to the west it is declaring: Psalm 24:1 – “The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein!”
So, All Are Without Excuse
Therefore, we can conclude both that the entire earth not only belongs to the Lord, but the inhabitants of the earth are without excuse. There is no place where humans dwell that does not have access to the testimony of the heavens. All of humanity is accountable for the revelation of the heavens.
The heavens speak clearly. How the heavens are received depends upon the spiritual condition of the observer.
An observer who is spiritually alive will be overwhelmed with the glory of God when beholding the heavens. The unspiritual observer will say, “A star is a sphere of burning gas. The moon is a giant rock.”
Paul tells us how we all receive the testimony of the heavens:
Romans 1:20-23 - 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. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Every man, woman, and child, apart from the grace of God, will behold his glory in creation and exchange it to worship a created thing—whether that be themselves, an animal, or material things.
The Sun and Its Tent
David sees the sun as God’s crowning accomplishment in the creation of the heavens. David images that God has pitched a tent for the sun. In the morning, the sun emerges from that tent in dramatic fashion.
He is like a “bridegroom leaving his chamber.” The chamber may mean the tent in which he was married, the tent in which he spent the first night with his bride, or the tent in which he dressed for the wedding. In any of these, you imagine a bridegroom bursting out with happiness, joy and pride.
The sun “like a strong man, runs its course with joy.” An athlete is the most happy when he is competing in that sport he was created for. And, what the sun was created to do was to declare the glories of the reigning Creator from one end of the earth to the other, with nothing being hidden from its heat. And that is what the sun has done from the beginning of creation, does every day, and will do until the Lord returns and His glory replaces the sun.
The Word of the Lord
David now makes an important transition. He moves from speaking of the revelation of God in creation to the revelation of the Lord in his word.
The heavens are an amazing display of God’s glory. Yet, we should never say, “I’m going to skip church because I can worship God fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, or sitting outdoors just as well as I can in hearing a sermon.” You can’t. The heavens were never intended to be a means of revelation apart from God’s word. The heavens apart from God’s word give us enough to be condemned, but not enough to be saved.
David is not speaking as an atheist gazing at the sky. David is speaking as a believer. It is only as a believer—one who has come to trust in the God revealed in the Scriptures—that one can ever see in creation what God intended to be seen.
Romans 10:17: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” The Word of God is the instrument God uses to work faith in our hearts. The Spirit through the Word, and not through creation, produces faith.
The soul that stays inside all day, only gazing at a virtual word of websites, email, video games and movies will significantly shrivel. But, the soul that only looks up at the sky, but never at God’s Word, will shrivel as well. Both the Heavens and the Word declare, but only the Word is said to change us.
The Law of “the Lord.”
An important transition takes place in verse 7. In verse 1, David speaks of “the glory of God, “el” in Hebrew. The heavens reveal “God” in general. But when David begins to speak of the written word in verses 7-9, he does not speak of “the law of God,” but “the law of the Lord,” “the testimony of the Lord,” “the precepts of the Lord,” “the commandment of the Lord,” “the fear of the Lord,” and “the rules of the Lord.” He uses the Hebrew word “Yahweh.”
When the word “Lord” appears in your Bible in small caps, it is translating the word “Yahweh,” which is the personal name of God. This personal name is the name that God used to reveal Himself to the people of
When David speaks of the revelation of creation, he speaks of God in general. But, when David speaks of God’s written word, he speaks of “Yahweh,” a personal God who his people know personally.
Therefore, one implication of this is that while the “book of creation” reveals to us that there is a God and that he great and powerful, it is necessary for God to speak to us if we are to enter into a personal relationship with him. Therefore, if you really want to know and relate to the Lord on a personal basis, nature alone is not enough. You must hear from God’s Word to be in covenant relation with Him.
The Nature and Function of the Word
David uses a variety of terms to describe the written Word of God. He describes it as “the law of the Lord,” “the testimony of the Lord,” “the precepts of the Lord,” “the commandment of the Lord,” “the fear of the Lord,” and “the rules of the Lord.” Each of these terms describes a different aspect of what God’s word is.
David describes for us two things: What the Word is and what the word does.
What the Word Is.
David tells us that the Lord’s word is:
“The law of the Lord is perfect”
As we said in verse one, the handiwork reveals to us character of the handyman. Likewise, words reveal to us the character of the one who speaks. Every thing that David tells us about what the Word is, is a reflection of who the speaker is.
Since the Lord is perfect, his word is perfect. There is no mixture of error in the word of the Lord.
Being perfect, the word of the Lord is complete and therefore sufficient. It contains everything we need to live and to be godly. As Paul will later write:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
“The testimony of the Lord is sure” –
“Sure” means “certain,” “trustworthy,” “established.” That is, what God testifies to can be trusted and depended upon, just as the Lord himself is sure. In a world of uncertainty, we can draw assurance and comfort that what the Lord says is “sure”—it is true and will not fail.
“The precepts of the Lord are right”
Because God’s word comes from Him, it is founded on his character. This means we can be certain that what He says is both correct and righteous.
Like a good doctor’s prescription, what prescribes is always right and therefore we are always wrong if we are not conformed to his word.
“The commandment of the Lord is pure”
Corruption comes from defilements and impurity. There is no mixture of error in God’s Word to defile it. Therefore, all its parts can be trusted.
What the Lord commands is pure and, therefore, we are always impure if we are not conformed to what he says.
“The fear of the Lord is clean”
“Fear of the Lord” probably referring to the instructions for worship found in the word. Therefore, the only way to worship the Lord in purity is to worship him according to his revelation. Proper reverence for the Lord is rooted in responding to the word of the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is “enduring forever.” The holiness that comes from God’s word is a foundation for eternal life. A soul characterized by the fear of the Lord is a soul that will also have endure forever. There is no eternal life apart from the fear of the Lord.
“The rules of the Lord are true”
What the Lord commands is true. That is, it is trustworthy, right, and dependable.
And, it is “righteous altogether.” Because the Word originates in the Lord, the Word is completely righteous. The Word gets to declare what is fair, correct, and righteous.
The life that is not conformed to the word of the Lord is a life that is not “altogether righteous.” There is no righteousness apart from being found in the Word.
What God’s Word Does:
David also tells us what the Word does:
“Reviving the soul”
The Word “revives.” This word means to “turn back” or “bring back.” Just as the Word of the Lord spoke the universe into existence, the Word of the Lord is what brings life back to our dead souls.
The Word changes hearts. The Word produces outward changes by inwardly changing the soul. Conversion occurs through the hearing of the Word of the Lord. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
True revival cannot be produced by our efforts, our productions or our great programs and methodology. The Word of Lord is the means of revival. It is the tool that God’s Spirit uses to revive His people. Therefore, if we desire to be a church in which the Lord brings genuine revival, we must be a church steeped in the word of the Lord.
“Making wise the simple”
2 Timothy 3:15 – “the sacred writings…are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
The Lord is the wisest of all beings. And, therefore, those who conform their thinking to His thinking are the only ones who are truly “wise.” Those who are humble enough to listen will grow wise.
It does not matter how intelligent you appear in the eyes of the world. The one who listens to the Lord’s testimony is truly wise. The person or church that rejects the Lord’s testimony is stupid.
“Rejoicing the heart”
Once you have trusted the wisdom of God’s word, you are on the path to true happiness. Genuine satisfaction and happiness is rooted in living according to the Lord’s precepts.
“Enlightening the eyes”
If you stare into the sun, your eyes will be blinded and you will be unable to see. However, if you stare into the Word of the Lord long enough, your eyes will be enlightened and your soul will be able to see. The Word reveals dimensions of truth and reality in human experience found nowhere else.
Summary of God’s Words
Having seen all this, consider what we forfeit when we neglect the Word of the Lord! Consider what will happen to a person, or to a church, that forfeits the Word of the Lord! When a person or a church hears the Word of the Lord and decides to exchange the Word for personal preferences, for tradition, for worldly wisdom, for practical pragmatics, what does it forfeit? The person or church that forfeits the Word of the Lord forfeits revival, wisdom, rejoicing, enlightenment, endurance and righteousness. They forfeit a great reward, more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey.
Consider what is offered to you in the Word of Lord! If you are a person who is here this morning weighted down with sorrows and sadness and worries and troubles and sin and death, consider what the Word of the Lord offers to you!
Do you want revival? Then go to the Word of the Lord!
Do you want wisdom? Then go to the Word of the Lord!
Do you want a heart that rejoices? Then go to the Word of the Lord!
Do you want eyes that are enlightened? Then go to the Word of the Lord!
Do you want life that endures forever? Then go to the Word of the Lord!
Do you want to be altogether righteous in the sight of the Lord? Then go to the Word of the Lord!
Better Than Gold, Sweeter Than Honey
The spiritual treasures offered in the Word of the Lord are greater that the things man seeks for the most. Gold bring us profit and honey brings us pleasure. But the Word of the Lord is of greater value than much fine gold. The Word of the Lord is more satisfying than honey, the finest of foods in David’s eyes.
The reason that we struggle with sin is not because we desire happiness and satisfaction. The reason we struggle with sin is because we do not want to be happy enough. We do not believe that God’s word is more desirable that material possessions. We do not believe that God’s word is more satisfying than the world. So, we settle for the little, temporary, small pleasures of money, sex, food & drink, material things, while the Word of the Lord offers us pleasures and rewards that are far greater.
The Word of the Lord has unsurpassed worth for every area of life. Therefore, God’s Word should be sought with greater effort and eagerness than the things of the world are sought.
The Word of the Lord warns us of danger. And, when we keep the Word of the Lord, we find a great reward.
The Heavens, The Word, and Ourselves
Having looked at the heavens and then at the Word, David surely comes to realize how far short he falls of the perfection revealed in these things. Therefore, the revelation of the Lord moves David to:
1) ask for the forgiveness of sins.
2) ask the Lord to keep him from sin.
3) David asks that what he speaks, thinks and feels would be appropriate in the light of the Lord’s greatness.
In other words, David sees the beauty of God in Creation and in the Word and, desiring to enjoy that beauty, realizes that his only life falls short of it. So, he pleads with God to gracious work to cleanse him, protect him and change him so that he delights in the Lord with all that he is.
Both the Heavens and the Word Point Us to Jesus Christ.
In the first chapter of John’s gospel, we read:
John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word. The Lord always revealed himself to his people through his word. What we learn is that ultimately, Jesus Christ is “the Word made flesh.” Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of the Lord. Thus, John writes, “and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father…”
Jesus Christ therefore is “perfect” and “sure” and “right” and “pure” and “clean” and “true.” And, therefore, Jesus Christ is the one who “revives the soul.” Jesus Christ makes the simple wise. Jesus Christ rejoices the heart. Jesus Christ enlightens the eyes. Jesus Christ is more to be desired than fine gold and the drippings of the honeycomb.
In Jesus Christ we find a satisfaction that is superior to anything else in the entire world.
The Heavens. John also tells us about the Word:
John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, is the one through whom “all things” were made. He is the creator of everything. Jesus is the one who made the heavens and the sky.
This means that creation was not just intended to declare the glories a generic God. The great God whose glory the heavens declare is not the generic God of Oprah, but the Word who “was God” and who “became flesh and dwelt among us,” that is, creation declares the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins and was raised from the dead and who will reign forever over all creation.
Therefore, when you look at the sun, whose “rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat,” you should think of the greatness of Jesus Christ. You should be reminded of the words of Isaac Watts:
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does its successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
And, therefore, you should bow yourself before Jesus Christ and worship Him alone.