This talk was given by Tim Coad. Only the second part of the talk is available.
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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 end 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.
Psalm 19:1–6 (NIV)
The stability, the consistency of the skies above us. They don’t use actual words he says, but they speak. They just speak of the beauties of God, speaking without words. In another lovely picture, he paints is where the Psalmist says, wherever you go in the world, whatever language people use, this language is universal. Wherever you go in the world, the creation is there. If you went into the hidden jungles of the world, the beauties are there.
If you went into the middle, even of Frodsham, High Street. I even love driving from Helsby to Frodsham because there is the beauties of the hills on one side and even the beauties of the industrial landscape on the other side, things that God has used man to make. There’s a beauty of all kinds all over the place. That’s what he’s really saying. He’s talking about the picture of the sun coming up every morning.
It does come up every morning, even though sometimes [laughs] we wonder where it is. It comes up every morning. It goes down every night. There’s a consistency there. We can absolutely depend on that. We can depend it’s going to be dark at night and light during the day. There’s a dependency in all of this. This is all a picture of the kind of God we have. A faithful God, the Creator God. The one we can depend on, the one who is consistent.
All of this creation, says the psalmist, speaks of this God and this is the reason for our security. Yahweh, the self-revealing God, has revealed himself in creation as and is in charge of this world. I think I’ve said to you many times before that I always remember going to school in Tewkesbury and one of those head teachers who had that lovely poster on that said, “Relax, God’s in charge.”
This is really what the psalmist is wanting to say to us, God is in charge. He’s made this world, he’s holding it together and we can depend on him. He showed himself as a dependable God, but there is more. There’s another step. Thank you, Sue. He goes on to say, Yahweh is to be loved and obeyed. God is to be loved and obeyed. Listen to this, this is the other beautiful poetic part of the Psalmist.
It seems to move into another section. He’s talking about the beauties of creation and God revealing creation. He’s wanting to say, not only has God revealed in creation, God is revealed in the things he has actually said, the words he has spoken through the prophets, through the patriarchs, through the apostles, through so many people. He says,
The law of the Lord is perfect refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 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 decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold. They’re sweeter than honey, than honey in the honeycomb. By them, is your servant warned, in keeping that is a great reward”
Psalm 19:7–13 (NIV)
The Psalms says, “Yes, we’ve seen God revealed in the beauties of creation. We also see God revealing the words that he has spoken.” We have it in the Bible. We have the word of God. God speaks through so many ways. There are so many ways that God speaks to us. The psalmist says, “ I’ve seen that in creation, now, I’m hearing that from God” I’m hearing the words of God.
What does he say about this words that God speaks? One of the first things he says is that there’s revival or refreshment in the words of God. I’m going to first stop there. He said, “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.” Or in other translations, he uses the word, reviving the soul. We hear a lot of talks sometimes about revival. We’re encouraged to pray for revival.
I wonder what we mean by that? Actually, I suppose what we simply mean is that more people will come to know Jesus. There will be a greater awareness of God in our nation and in our world that seems to be rejecting God in so many ways. We pray for that kind of revival. I don’t think that is what the psalmist is thinking about. He’s thinking about the continuing refreshment of knowing God a fresh, coming to go, a fresh every day.
Renewing and refreshing our awareness of God’s promises day by day, through quiet times, through just the daily walking with God, knowing that refreshment. If you get tired and you feel like being refreshed, you sometimes go on holiday, don’t you? Maybe you’ll take your camper van and you’ll travel around Scotland. Maybe you’ll, like my daughter this week and her children, take a tent. That’s not for me at all.
You’ll go and find the best curry house in the world down in Tenby, Wales, and you’ll sleep in a tent. You’ll come back and you’ll say, “Yes, I feel refreshed. I’m relaxed.” The psalmist is talking about this spiritually. He says we need spiritual refreshment. When we come to the words of God, they refresh us. Sometimes when you read the Bible you think I hadn’t noticed that before.
That’s renewed my faith, that’s strengthened my faith. Sometimes things happen to us and we say, “Do you know I was beginning to doubt God, but something has happened and my faith is refreshed, my faith is renewed. The psalmist said, “I find when I come to the words of God, they refresh me, they renew me, they revived me.” He says also they impart wisdom. They give me wisdom. He’s a wise king.
I don’t know whether you would claim to be wise, [laughs] claim wisdom. What he’s really saying is wisdom he means that God’s ways are best. When we look into the word of God, we discover actually when we’re obedient to the word of God, when we live the way God wants us live, that’s the best way to live. The Psalmist says, “I want to obey God’s ways because I know that his ways are best. I know that he loves me. I know he wants me.”
What’s the other result of that? Well, in verse eight, it says that the precepts of the Lord are right. These are different kinds of words, precepts, laws, ordinances, it’s all meaning the same thing, the words of God. He says, “What else do they give?” Well, yes, they impart wisdom. Yes, they can refresh and renew, but they give joy. As a parent, when your child obeys you, it’s a reason for joy, isn’t it?
It’s a reason for surprise for some parents. God says, “When you obey me, when you do what I say ,” – it gives God delight and it gives us delight. Actually, sometimes as a child when you obey your parents and you see them pleased it’s a joyful thing. It’s a nice experience, isn’t it? It’s a nice experience to be encouraged. It’s a good experience to be encouraged by God.
It’s a joyful time when we obey him and we see him move and act in our lives because when we do obey, when we live by the laws of God, then we can expect to know God’s blessing in that. He also says later on in verse 8 that the precepts and that the commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. God is a God who directs. God is a God in leads. God is a God that points us in the right direction.
Of course, I suppose that goes without saying. If God’s going to give us light we’re going to have to listen. We’re going to have to take some time out to hear what he’s saying, to read his word. Of course, that’s what the psalmist is talking about. In some of the translations, the word is delight. In some translations, the word is insight. You might call it guidance as we read the word of God and we discover which direction to go in.
Sometimes when we’re not sure which direction to go in, God just gives us some peace, peace of mind. A few weeks ago as I began to think about the future and things didn’t begin to fall into place, I was getting worried. Just over the last week, so I’ve become to find the peace of God in all of this. God is in charge. God is giving guidance. God is giving insight.
Verse nine talks about, “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.”
What does the psalmist mean when he speaks about the fear of the Lord? Is it being afraid of God? I don’t think so. I don’t think the Bible says we need to be afraid of God because God is on our side. I remember years ago seeing the headline in The Sun when we went into the Falklands and they said, “God’s on our side.” Whether we had the right to say that ... As Christians, we know God is on our side.
He has our good at heart. We’re told to have a sense of reverence. That’s what the fear of God means. A sense of reverence, a sense of recognition. We’ve referred to it a lot of times, specifically in our worship this morning, the sense of all, the sense of wonder. In Isaiah 6 when he came face to face with God, he was filled with wonder and the magnificence of God.
Sometimes when we look at creation, even we’re filled with a sense of all, a sense of wonder, there’s beauty. That’s partly recognizing there’s a wonderful God behind this. As we look at the words of God, we should be filled or we can be filled with that sense of all wonder. That’s the fear of God, a respect for God, a reverence for God. He goes on in verse 10, “They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold.
I wonder what the most important thing in my life is. I wonder what the desires of my life is. He’s talked about desires there. He said, “More to be desired are they than gold.” It doesn’t actually use those words in this particular translation. In other places, it says, “there’s a desire to be.” In other versions, it says, “they’re to be desired.” We desire to follow God. I don’t know about you but as I grow up as a Christian, I find in my heart very often a greater desire to know God’s ways and to know God.
As the psalmist said, they are the best ways and they lead to true prosperity. There’s a whole beauty in what the psalmist is saying about the Words of God. They lead to renewal and revival and refreshment. They lead to wisdom, direction for us, they lead to joy. There’s a joy in following God. They lead to light and insight into our lives. They lead to reverence for God, respect for God. A recognition that God is on my side, God is on our side and will lead me through the very best things.
To have a desire to follow him to do the best I can, to follow him and to be obedient to him. But then in verse 11, he also says, “By them, is your servant warned.” The words of God sometimes are warnings. I don’t know about you, when you go into certain places, of course, you have warning signs, don’t you? Saying, “Don’t jump in this river.”
There’s a beautiful one. When was it? When I was in the States with my sisters, I crossed a narrow bridge going up a hill and it said something on it, “Please don’t jump from this bridge, it’s dangerous.” Well, I thought yes, it would be really a long way down. It seemed to be stating the obvious. Really, the words of God give us warnings. If we disobey God’s ways, if we disobey God’s rules, there’s a penalty to be paid because God’s designed the world to work in that way.
He said, there’s a choice. There’s a choice in the Psalm: a warning if we ignore God, or reward if we follow him. This is the psalmist’s love of the Word of God. He sees it as all of these things. If you’ve got a bit of time, meditate on some of the words in whatever version of the Bible you use, the different words used for the same thing. Meditate on some of those words, think of how those things are reflected in your life.
God, Yahweh, revealed in creation. God, Yahweh, speaks to us through his Word and offers us and promises as blessing and guidance. The final part of the Psalm really, the psalmist comes to a time of worship. He’s reflected on God, he can see reflected in creation. He’s reflected on the God he sees reflected in the Word of God. He says at the end,
WHo can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from wilful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart,
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:12–14 (NIV)
The psalmist has come out of his reflection on creation, come out of his reflection on the Word of God. What he now says is, as he begins to worship Yahweh, he says, “Lord, look into my heart, if you see there are any wrong thoughts, any wicked thoughts, Lord, will you forgive me? Will you cleanse me?”
He’s seen what kind of God he is and he knows that if he comes before this God, this God will change him. This God will forgive him. This God will remove from him any wrong thoughts, any angry thoughts, any evil thoughts. He asks him to do that. It’s exciting, isn’t it? That I can be what God wants me to be. Even when it does go wrong, even then the wrong thoughts and the bitter thoughts and the angry thoughts creep in, God can deal with them because God is a forgiving God.
At the end of the Psalm, the psalmist comes and says, “Lord, accept my worship.” What he’s really saying, I think is, “I’m not a perfect man. I have wrong thoughts. I need you to help me. I need your cleansing but I know you will accept my worship.” Also, right now he said, “Wonderful redeemer.” He’s God is his rock and his redeemer. This is to me at the bottom of everything. At the bottom of everything is you. Beneath everything is you. My feet are standing on a rock, a strong place.
Even when the world around me is crashing around me, everything seems to be going wrong, underneath me is the rock of Yahweh. This God who doesn’t change, who I see reflected in creation, who I see reflected in the words he speaks. This is the great God that we trust in him. “ Again, I can remember being at Bible college and I can remember when things were not going right.
We didn’t have any money and we didn’t seem to have anything and everything seemed to be going wrong. One day, I sat at my desk and I thought, “God, what have I done? Why have I chosen to follow you? This is a mess.” In that moment, it was like being at the bottom of a very deep well, but at the bottom of that well there was an absolute rock. I thought, at the end of the day I know I’m standing on the rock.
My faith became stronger than ever at that time, in one of the hardest times of our lives and one of the hardest times when it was to trust God. I knew that he was there and I knew that he was real and I wonder if the psalmist was coming to that point. He said, “You’re my rock you’re my Redeemer. You’re the one who refreshes me. You’re the one who renews me, so will you accept my worship and accept my thanks?”
That’s how we can respond this morning. We can say to God, accept my worship, even though I mess up. I mess up so much. I make a mistake. I get it wrong. I forget you. Even then I can come back to you and I can be refreshed and I can be renewed. Perhaps we need that refreshing, perhaps we need that renewal. We need it all the time. God is there to give it. Whether it’s by going out looking and seeing what a beautiful world we live in.
Even if it does rain tomorrow, probably it will because that’s the promise. Even then the beauty is still there or whether it’s coming to the Word of God looking at the promises of God and remembering who he is. Whatever it is, let’s be refreshed. Let’s be renewed. Let’s be secure. Let’s find him to be our rock and our redeemer. In Jesus name, Amen.
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Scripture quotations marked NIV on this page and in the talk are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.