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An Exposition of Psalm 19 (Part 1 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
May 25, 2022 4:00 am

An Exposition of Psalm 19 (Part 1 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 25, 2022 4:00 am

While we can’t know everything about God, He continually reveals His eternal power and divine nature throughout the earth—even to those who’ve never read the Bible. So why do some people fail to see it? Hear the answer on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg!



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There's a lot we don't know about To the choir master, a psalm of David. Glory of God and the sky above Proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words Whose voice is not heard. Their voice 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, Which comes out like a bridegroom, leaving his chamber, And like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, And its circuit to the end of them, And there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold, sweeter also than honey And drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them, as your servant warned, In keeping them there is great reward.

You can discern his errors. Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 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. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. Amen. Well, this year, as I think we should all by now know, we are celebrating the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.

And various celebrations are already afoot and have taken place and will take place throughout the year. And at each of these, there will be the reminder that is expressed of how Martin Luther, in coming to an understanding of the truth of the gospel, asserted that his conscience was captive to the Word. That's the phraseology that he used. He said, My conscience is captive to the Word. And I have been accompanied by my own little Martin Luther for some months now.

This was given to me as a gift, and I appreciate it very much indeed. And I have brought him down here. This is the first time he's been out for my study. I have him with me.

He sits beside me on my desk. He's holding the Scriptures in his hand and his pen in his right hand. And as he looks on, as I study the Bible, I'm saying to myself, Lord Jesus Christ, help me, like Luther, to become captive to your Word. Help me to teach the Bible in such a way that as we listen together to the written Word of God, that by the Holy Spirit our minds and our hearts may be captivated, transformed, because we meet the living Word of God. Luther was prolific in his preaching and in his writing, nowhere more so than in the work that he did on the book of Psalms itself. His introduction to the Psalms is worth reading in its entirety, and in part of that this is what he says, There is no book of the Bible to which I have devoted as much labor as to the Psalms. And yet I must openly admit that I do not know whether I have the accurate interpretation of the Psalms or not.

The Spirit reserves much for himself so that we may always remain his pupils. There is much that he reveals only to lure us on, much that he gives only to stir us up. I know that a person would be guilty of the most shameless boldness if he dared claim that he had understood even one book of the Scriptures in all its parts. In fact, who would even dare to assert that anyone has completely understood one single psalm? And then he proceeds to begin with Psalm 1.

It's quite salutary, isn't it? I found it actually a little bit encouraging, because as I was studying these psalms, I said to myself again and again, I'm not sure I really get this. And Luther is acknowledging the fact that the Spirit is at work to lure us on, to stir us up, reserving still to himself that which will always keep us as pupils. I think part of the inference is that you ought to be very, very careful of somebody in your home Bible study group who is the person who always tells you that he understands this perfectly.

The fact that he says that is probably an indication that he or she clearly doesn't. Remember that the main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things. The Bible doesn't tell us everything about everything, but it tells us how we can view everything. Anyway, with that said, like the disciples from Luke 24, we are in the position whereby our need is as was theirs for our minds to be opened so that we might understand the Scriptures.

That's what Luke records. He says that as they thought together, as they reflected on the law and the prophets and the psalms, then their minds were opened so that they could understand the Scriptures. That's why every so often we sing that little hymn, Break Thou the Bread of Life, Dear Lord to Me. We're singing to the Lord of the Word, to open up the Word by the Spirit. And the verse which reads, O send thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me, that he may touch my eyes and make me see.

Show me the truth concealed within thy word, and in thy book revealed I see the Lord. So as we look at these psalms together, we begin with the nineteenth psalm. To the choirmaster a psalm of David. Therefore this poem was to be sung. We know nothing of the expressed immediate context other than the fact that it is penned by the king of Israel, David himself, and it was to be sung by the assembled congregation when they came together for worship.

We might also ponder the fact that Jesus growing up in a Jewish household would have sung the psalms and would have been present on an occasion when, as the very creator himself, he sang of the work of God's creation. C. S. Lewis, in his Reflections on the Psalms, refers to the nineteenth psalm 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 Oxbridge, isn't it? So, let's turn to the text. It breaks, I think, quite straightforwardly, either in two parts—revelation all the way through to the end of verse 11, and then response, verses 12 to 14, or, if you like, into three—first of all, the revelation of God in his world, verses 1 to 6, then the revelation of God in his Word, verses 7 to 11, and then the revelation of God in his worshiper.

One of my friends this week, as we were talking about this, he said, You know, I think what we're given here in this psalm is a threefold invitation. I said, Tell me what you mean. He said, Well, the invitation is, number one, look up, look to the skies. Number two, look down, look to the Scriptures.

And number three, look in, look to yourself. I said, Oh, I might use that. And he said, Well, you'd better give me credit. So I just did.

All right? Revelation then. First of all, verses 1 to 6, God reveals himself in creation, or, if you like, the majesty of God's works. The majesty of God's works.

It's straightforward, isn't it? Verse 1, the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Now, this is not a unique expression. It runs throughout the work of the psalmist. Indeed, it comes again and again in the prophet's words as well. Those of you who read through the Truth for Life program in Bible reading will have been reading, as I have, Isaiah in the mornings. And so in the last while, you will have been in Isaiah chapter 40. And there in Isaiah 40, God encourages those who are reading, Lift up your eyes on high and see. Okay?

All right? So, lift up your eyes and see. And then he says, Let me ask you a question.

Who created these? And then he says, Let me tell you who it was. He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name and by the greatness of his might.

Quite an expression, isn't it? There in verse 2, whether it's daytime or nighttime, the majesty of God's works declare his creative power. In fact, day to day pours out speech, like a fountain that never stops, like a river that runs to the sea. Every day, day by day, as man looks up into the vastness of the created order, God speaks.

He speaks continually. And when the nighttime comes, and when the moon rises in the sky, and when the stars shine, then David realizes that there are more things in heaven on an earth that declare God's glory. That's on just simple terms, if you imagine David the king. He has an opportunity just to rest, and as he sits back in the sunshine of the day, he takes up his pen and he writes, The heavens declare the glory of God. And before he goes to bed at night, as he looks out and he sees the moon and the stars, incidentally, without the benefits that we have in the twenty-first century, it would take the darkness of the night to reveal the complexity of the solar system.

Otherwise, he might assume that he was alone in the universe, that there was nothing else. So it takes the nighttime to introduce that dimension to the writer of the poem, when I consider the moon and the stars and the work of your hands, what your fingers have ordained, and so on. And then striking, he says, There's no speech, no words, no voice.

And then he says, But the cry goes out through all the earth. This, of course, is a paradox, isn't it? And the use of paradox is in order to make us think. And the poem is enhanced by that. This is not written in such a way that it just is a logical progression, but it's written in a poetic form, in order that just as we studied poetry at school, so we might think of this.

What is it that he's doing here? He's telling us that the creation speaks but not in an audible way—that the testimony of God comes by way of the glory of his world. And there is a voice that goes out through all the earth, and there are words that go to the ends of the world.

But they're not audible. So that whether you're in northern India, whether you're in the southern hemisphere, wherever you are today, if you lift up your eyes, and look to the skies, the evidence, the testimony, is there. It transcends geographical boundaries. It transcends ethnicity. It transcends everything.

No matter where you are on this globe, you're able to look up, and the cry goes out. And magnificently so, he says, in relationship to the sun. To the sun. In this context, he has set a tent for the sun. Or you might actually translate it, he has a structure for the sun, a track for the sun.

So here we are, sensible twenty-first-century people who have all filled with all of our background in science and so on, and we turn to our Bibles on a morning like this, and the poetry clarifies all of our thinking. No, he's actually set a tent for the sun. Here comes the sun.

Here comes the sun. Positioned as per the Creator's plan. Why is the sun where the sun is?

Why is it not a few degrees to one side or the other? Well, the scientists say, Well, I don't really know. The person who reads the Bible says, Well, I think we do know. We don't understand.

It's not given to us as a scientific explanation. But what it's telling us is that the movement and the position of the sun serves as a glorious reminder of how God's creation declares his glory. And he uses two metaphors. He says it's like a bridegroom, it's like a strong man running with joy. The picture of a bridegroom leaving his chamber—the picture, again, would be in the context of the time, where, in the coming together in marriage, there would be a group of friends who would go to the home of the bridegroom. They would then bring the bridegroom out of the house and bring him to the context in which he would be introduced to his bride.

You don't expect that the bridegroom is going to be coming out of the house like, you know, morose or whatever. No, he's coming out of the house. He's coming out like a bridegroom. He's coming out with a great sense of anticipation. It's almost as if he brings his own life force with him. It's almost as if his splendor is so magnificent that people get caught up in it.

That's the picture. He says, That's the sun. It's like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.

Or it's like a man on the starting blocks, about to begin a race, and he's about to fire off with immense power. He says, That's the picture, arrayed in splendor, magnificent in glory. And he says, This rising is from the end of the heavens, its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Nothing hidden from its heat. Life on our planet demands the existence of the sun. Without the sun, we're done. Now I'm writing my own poems.

Not as good, admittedly, but short. Despite in my research discovering a few folks who believe that we can actually survive on planet earth without the sun—I don't want to go into it, but you can find them. I hope you're not one of them. But they believe that we'll be able to live in some cave very close to the earth's, you know, essence, and so we'll be okay. I have not signed up for that program, and I don't suggest you do either, because contemporary understanding of things is that without the sun, the existence of some kind of microorganism for a wee while near to the core of the earth is understandable. But in actual fact, nothing other than that would survive. Without the sun, all the plants die. There's no photosynthesis. The plants die, the animals that eat the plants die, and the homo sapiens who keep the animals in their yard who eat the plants will die as well.

Without the sun, it eventually proves to be impossible to maintain life on earth. And the psalmist here says that the sun, as it moves across the sky, is a picture of the life-giving power of the works of God. This is why, incidentally, in that little hymn, where we sing that heaven above is softer blue and earth around is sweeter green, and something lives in every hue that Christless eyes have never seen, and birds with gladder songs o'erflow and earth with deeper beauty shine, since I know as now I know that I am his and he is mine. That the perspective of the believer, in terms of the planets, in terms of science, in terms of the nature of the world in which we live, is actually understood within the context of God's revelation of himself.

It is the foolish man—not intellectually impoverished but morally deficient—it is the foolish man or woman who says, There is no God. Because the evidence is there for all to see. God has not left himself without a witness. Hence the song that we just sang. Creation sings the Father's song.

He calls the Son to wake the dawn and run the course of day. This is biblical theology. This is an understanding of the doctrine of creation.

Why, then, is it that since the evidence is incontrovertibly there in the sky, why is it that men and women do not see it? Well, don't you think that probably these opening verses of Psalm 19 are in the mind of the apostle Paul when he addresses that issue in writing the first chapter of his magnificent letter to Rome? If you turn there for a moment, I'll just remind you of it.

It's not unfamiliar territory, but it is timely for us to look at it once again. Romans chapter 1 and verse 18. And Paul writes, The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The inevitable response of holiness to sinfulness.

Because in their unrighteousness they, notice, suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. If we had had the opportunity to say, What are you thinking about here, Paul?

What do you have in mind? I think you would have said, Psalm 19. You said that, you know, day unto day utter speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There's no voice, there's no sound, but the cry has gone out to the earth. Really?

Yeah! Because, verse 20, his invisible attributes—namely, his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world. How? In the things that have been made.

So they are without excuse. It is so clearly there, he says, the power of God, his invisible attributes, but in their unrighteousness they've suppressed the truth, they've exchanged the glory of God for that which is simply idolatry. All of creation bears witness to God's power and his majesty. You're listening to Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. In recent days you've heard us talking about a book called Mere Evangelism, 10 Insights from C.S. Lewis to Help You Share Your Faith.

This is a book that looks carefully at the persuasive strategies Lewis used to lead others to explore the claims of Christ, and by God's grace many came to faith. You can request your copy of the book Mere Evangelism when you give a donation to support the Bible teaching you hear on this program. Just click the image you see in the mobile app or visit us online at truthforlife.org slash donate.

You can also call us at 888-588-7884. Our desire here at Truth for Life is to make clear, relevant Bible teaching available to everyone. So if you're looking for additional books or Bible studies on a particular topic, you can scroll through many of the resources we have available in our online store. Simply go to truthforlife.org slash store and realize this it's because of faithful giving that comes from listeners like you that these high quality resources are available at our cost. You'll be surprised how many great books and audio studies are available for just a few dollars. They're perfect for personal study or to give as gifts. You can use them to build up the library in your local church. Once again visit the online at-cost store at truthforlife.org slash store. You can also purchase additional copies of the book Mere Evangelism to use with your Bible study or Sunday school class. They're available for six dollars at truthforlife.org slash store. I'm Bob Lapeen. Thanks for listening today. Tomorrow we'll find out how the morality of human society crumbles when we suppress God's truth. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-14 14:42:09 / 2023-04-14 14:50:25 / 8

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