Summary: The first half of Psalm 19 deals with what we can learn about God from nature. The second half deals with what we can learn about God from His Word. This is part one of a two part sermon.
Good morning! Please turn in your Bibles to Psalm 19 as we continue our series summer in the Psalms. We talked last week about how Psalms is a book of practical poetry, and how almost all the great moments of life have a soundtrack attached. It could be “Happy Birthday” in front of a cake with candles. Or “Here Comes the Bride” as you are standing at the front of a sanctuary in a rented tux. Or maybe it’s “Sweet Home Alabama” with 100,000 of your closest friends at Bryant-Denny stadium. “God Bless The USA” as you are watching a fireworks display. We are wired to be moved emotionally by music. To remember things with music. So it makes sense that when God wrote to us, he had to include music!
There are 150 Psalms. It is the longest book in the Bible. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to talk about all of them. They were written by people from all walks of life, over a thousand year period. King David wrote half of them (75). Of the other 75, about a third are attributed to a specific author. There was Asaph, a priest, who wrote twelve of them; The Sons of Korah, which were a group of professional temple singers, kind of like Hillsong United, wrote ten of them. King Solomon wrote two. Even Moses wrote one—Psalm 90—which may make it the oldest piece of literature in the Bible.
So the Psalm we are going to look at this morning is a Psalm of David, and it’s classified as a Wisdom Psalm. That means it was specifically written to teach us something. So if you are physically able, let’s stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word, and listen for what God has to teach us this morning.
19 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above[a] proclaims his handiwork. 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. 4 Their voice[b] goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,
Skip down to verse 7:
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,[c] reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules[d] of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13 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. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
So since this is a Wisdom Psalm, let’s ask God for wisdom together. Let’s pray…
Jesus, teach me from your Word this morning. Amen.
Psalm 19 falls really neatly into two halves. We are going to look at the first half this morning, and the second half next week (so if you were looking at all the blanks on the listening guide and wondering how we were ever going to get through all of them, you can rest easy. We aren’t!)
You can see this on your listening guide: verses 1-6 talk about The World God Created, while verses 7-10 deal with The Word God Communicated. And in both creation and the Scripture, God has revealed Himself to human beings. But he’s done it in two different ways. Theologians call those GENERAL REVELATION and SPECIAL REVELATION. Let’s unpack each of those terms.
General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. [Slide] Some would say God has also revealed himself through philosophy and reason, and I think there’s room for talking about that as well, but for this morning, we’re going to focus on nature, since that is what Psalm 19 focuses on.
Throughout creation, God has given us evidence of His existence . And it is a constant, ongoing revelation. All the verbs in verses 1-2 are either participles or imperfect. This means continuous, unfinished, ongoing action. The Heavens ARE declaring the Glory of God. The skies ARE PROCLAIMING his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech. Night to night reveals knowledge.
Have you ever stood on the seashore, or the rim of the Grand Canyon, or looked at a mountain range and thought to yourself, “How could anyone say there’s no God?” We all have. And that’s General Revelation. We can look at the perfect design of the Universe and know that there was a designer behind it. If I am walking through the woods and I come across an old wristwatch, I don’t think its the result of a random explosion in a machine shop. Someone had to have designed the watch. And the universe is the same way.
There are lots of websites that can give you facts about how the earth is just the right temperature to sustain life, and has the perfect tilt to its axis, and so forth. I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of those figures. But what blew me away this week was reading some of those facts on non-Christian science websites. For example, at science/howstuffworks.com/life/EVOLUTION (!!!!) In 2000, a paleontologist and an astronomer collaborated on a book called “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe,” in which they argued that the odds of finding another living world in all the cosmos were severely unlikely. They called it the Rare Earth Hypothesis, but they might as well have called it The Goldilocks principle
You can read some facts about how Earth fits the “Goldilocks principle” to sustain life. You remember Goldilocks, right? She stumbles on a house in the forest, and finds three bowls of porridge, three chairs, three beds, and only one is “just right?”
The right ingredients: A planet needs liquid water, an energy source and chemical building blocks like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen for the life forms we’re familiar with to thrive.
The right crust: Gas giants and molten worlds need not apply. Luckily, Earth possesses the suitable distribution of elements to ensure a hot metallic core and a rocky mantle.
The right temperature: The necessity for liquid water also means that planetary temperatures must permit the substance to retain its liquid form in some regions.
The right moon: Our large moon ensures climate stability by minimizing changes in planetary tilt. If our planet didn’t have a tilt, it wouldn’t have seasons. Likewise, a severe tilt would result in extreme seasons.
The right star: The sun provides Earth with the energy for life and is thankfully rather stable. Imagine baking a pot roast with an oven that might suddenly surge in temperature, die or explode. It wouldn’t work for your pot roast, and it certainly wouldn’t work for life.
The right core: Earth’s solid inner core and liquid outer core play crucial roles in protecting life from deadly solar radiation. Differences in temperature and composition in the two core regions drive this powerful dynamo, emitting Earth’s protective electromagnetic field.
The right neighbors: Jupiter shields Earth from constant stellar bombardment. Without the gas giant in the neighborhood, scientists predict that Earth would endure 10,000 times as many asteroid and comet strikes [source: Villard].
But with all this, listen to the conclusion:
In short, Earth contains all the ingredients and environmental necessities for life to emerge, plus the relative safety for it to evolve unmolested for hundreds of millions of years on end.
How is that possible to look at all the evidence for a designer and still miss the truth? It would be as though Goldilocks believed that the “just right bed” evolved from some random mutation of trees and goose feathers!
Hold that thought. We’ll come back to it.
But creation doesn’t just give us evidence for God’s existence. It also gives us insight into His character.
Look at the nature of creation and you find out about the nature of the Creator. Verses 3-4 say…
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,? whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice[b] goes out through all the earth,? and their words to the end of the world.
There are a couple of different ways to understand this, because the Hebrew is a little difficult to translate. Some say these verses mean that even without speech or language, creation speaks of the creator:
TRANSITION FOR EACH OF THESE
Niagara Falls whispers “There is a God who made me, and he is powerful.” I heard something interesting on the Weather Channel yesterday as I was watching the coverage of Tropical Storm Barry heading to New Orleans. And this is a direct quote from the reporter: “All the levees and locks and dams and gates are just man’s attempt to harness a power that cannot be harnessed.”
The moon whispers, “There is a God who made me, and he is romantic.”
The Milky Way Galaxy, 100,000 light years across, and one of one hundred billion galaxies whispers, “There is a God who made me, and he is BIG.”
The 300 species of hummingbird, 13,000 varieties of daffodils, 17,500 species of butterfly, ALL whisper, “There is a God who made us, and he is creative.”
The great white shark whispers, “There is a God who made me, and he is to be respected.”
Peer inside a microscope, and you’ll find a God who cares about details.
Hold a newborn, and you’ll experience a God of wonder.
Test the gravity he made by jumping out an airplane, and you’ll experience a God of excitement.
Jump out of an airplane without a parachute, and you’ll discover a God of absolutes.
Say this: “The heavens declare the glory of God.”
Now, there is a second way to look at verses 3-4, where it says “There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.” And that is to say that every single person on planet earth, regardless of what language they speak, or whether or not they even have a written language can know that there is a God just by looking at creation. This is what Romans 1:19-20 is getting at when it says
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 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. (Romans 1:19-20)
So when scientists (or anyone else for that matter) can look at creation and conclude that there’s no God behind it, they don’t have a knowledge problem, they have an obedience problem. Back up to the verse just before Romans 1:19. Verse 18 says, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Remember the Goldilocks principle? This would be Goldilocks saying, look, I don’t want to admit that I’m breaking and entering. I don’t want to own up to the fact that I’m criminally trespassing.
So I’m just going to assume that this house, these chairs, this porridge, these beds are all just an accident of natural selection.
But that would be intellectually dishonest, wouldn’t it? But don’t we do the same thing? Maybe you are here this morning and you haven’t wanted to acknowledge God because you know that if you did, you would be responsible for ignoring him. So you’ve kind of conveniently decided that He doesn’t really exist. Friend, you are the one that Romans 1:18 is talking about. By your unrighteousness you are suppressing the truth.
And then look at the last line of verse 20: SO THEY ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE.
It’s that last line that ought to make us stop and think.
But there’s good news. God didn’t just leave us general revelation that points to His existence. He gave us Special Revelation that points to His will for our lives. [SLIDE]
We go from General Revelation— the general truths that can be known about God through nature, to SPECIAL REVELATION, which is the specific truths about God that can only be known through Scripture.
The good news is that God has made known the gospel to us. I want to take you to one more verse in Romans. I know we are working backwards— going from 18-19 to 17, and now we are looking at 16, but bear with me. Romans 1:16 says,
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
In God’s Word, we find out how to be made righteous before God. And that’s what we are going to talk about next week.
Let’s stand for closing prayer.