Sermon February 9, 2020

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1431

February 9, 2020 Psalm 19.1-14

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

“Speech Pours Out”

 

1The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4Their 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, 5which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

7The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

12Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

 

  • Creation’s Speech (1-6)

 

When one looks over the outline for today’s sermon it makes sense to see that God may speak (2nd point) and we might speak (3rd point), but how is it that creation speaks (1st point)? And yet, this is what the first six verses of this Psalm declare, that all of creation pours forth speech! The first point, verse 1, the heavens declare the glory of God. We find that a simple truth because when we look to the heavens, to the stars, to the sky above, we wonder how anyone could not believe in a Creator. Second point, the sky above proclaims his handiwork. The heavens declare and the sky proclaims. These are terms we use to talk about speech. These are words we use to talk about the words we use and yet here they are given to creation itself, declare, proclaim, and the verses go on to speak of speech, words, voice, all to convey that creation’s speech reveals that there is a God and He leaves no one with an excuse to have never heard.

This is what the apostle Paul declares in Romans 1.18-23

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 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. 21 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. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

God has been revealed ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made. Therefore, the Psalms and other Bible verses proclaim that creation proclaims. Because of creation itself, all people who refuse God are without excuse. Of course, this passage takes that even farther because it addresses those who actually knew God yet exchanged the glory of God for idols, they worshiped the creature rather than the Creator.

Isaiah 55.12 also speaks of creation giving proclamation, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Of course, we know there is no actual singing, no clapping, no words are spoken, but the witness is there in the fact that creation did not come about by through a big bang or any other means speculated by science. God is the Creator of all that is seen and the testimony of creation is given simply by creation existing. A tree claps by growing tall and strong as God intended. The mountains sing by echoing the wind.

Now I want us to consider one other passage in regard to this speech of creation. Matthew 6.25-34, Jesus is speaking about our anxiety over life, but a side point is that He uses the creation of God as examples of how God cares for us.

 

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 

The birds of the air give testimony, they speak of God providential care. The grass of field shows us how God cares for us much more than the birds and the grass. Psalm 19 begins by echoing the speech of creation. With every sunrise and sunset, God reveals His glory. With every raindrop and snowfall, God proclaims His handiwork. With every creature and every landscape, God has given witness to His presence as Creator.

Let all creation sing and daily pour out its speech!

 

  • God’s Speech (7-11)

 

The next speech is God’s Word, Psalm 19.7-11. It is expressed in several ways: law, testimony, precepts, commandments, “fear of the Lord”, and rules. It all encompasses God’s speech that we find in the Bible. I believe that the phrase “fear of the Lord” is also a reference to God’s Word in that it is in this list but also because it is through His Word that we learn to fear God in the sense of awe and reverence. The Word is the “fear” of the Lord. Therefore, it is of such great value that gold and honey pale in comparison. I remember my grandfather used to get honey in quart jars and always with the honeycomb. I always remember that sweetness when I think about this passage. Just a picture of a honeycomb in a jar reminds me of the sweetness of God’s Word.

Following each term for the speech of God are the blessings it brings: reviving the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, enduring forever, true and righteous. These are the things that God’s speech gives us for life. Is your soul downcast, God’s Word revives it. All of these things give us our life when our life has been exhausted. The word generates energy in our soul. On the particular on about the soul, this is an action reserved only for God as Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd…he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul!” And Psalm 19 says the Word has the same power.

This is the speech that gives us wisdom. This is what gives us joy and opens our eyes to see the truth. It is the Word of God that gives us life: "I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life” (Psalm 119.93). I harp on being in the Word of God for many reasons, but this passage in Psalm 19 might lead the way with all the witness to things like restoring the soul and enlightening the eyes. But the fact that the Word speaks of giving life itself might be the top reason. There is a certain energy of spirit, a living spirit that is conveyed to the person reading and studying and listening. It is certainly true that in the gospel message we know of our life in Jesus through what He has done through the cross and resurrection, but there is something special in all of the speech of God that brings renewal of life within our being. The Jews understood the Bible to remind them of their identity as God’s people. They received understanding of their true existence, their purpose, their worth, and that they belonged to the Lord. We too hold this book sacred because of what it has revealed to us as God’s people and what God has done for us. It is also a constant reminded to these things. The Scripture gives us hope, faith, wisdom to find ourselves and to find that we are loved and forgiven and called to great things.

Jesus said it this way, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4.4). Yes, we need to eat bread (food) for life, but that is not the only life we have. Our true diet is every word that comes from God’s speech. Do you know that verse from Jeremiah 15.16? “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts!” Think of the Word as edible nuggets and eat ‘em up! This is life for us. This is joy for us! This is wisdom for us!

I was talking with someone lately about the difficulty of sticking to a steady diet of food that would maintain a healthy weight but I think there is a huge difference between the bread we eat and the Word we eat. Part of it is in the pleasure that comes. With food it is a temporary pleasure, known only for a few moments and usually that pleasure turns into pain the next time we step on the scales. But the pleasure that comes from eating the Word is enduring, eternal, and doesn’t affect the scales at all. If it does anything for the scales, it will probably reduce it as we learn more about our bodies as the temple of God’s Spirit. With a steady diet of God’s speech, we gain the healthy weight of revival of the soul, wisdom, joy, truth, and righteousness. It won’t build anything to our physical body, but it will strengthen beyond our imagination our spiritual life and so much more like the armor of God and faith to move mountains and love that reflects the love God has shown.

Let God’s speech pour out its blessing into our lives!

 

 

  • Our Speech (12-14)

 

The final speech of Psalm 19 is our own. That speech actually originates with God’s speech because it is God’s Word that enables us to discern errors and reveal hidden faults, keeps us from presumptuous sins so that they cannot dominate our lives. The great prayer at the end of the Psalm reflects this desire to live in righteousness before God, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” The desire of the Psalm is that our words and heart will speak of God’s glory as does creation and will speak of the truth and grace as does the Bible. Our speech is to mirror God’s speech.

One of the ways we speak God’s Word is to keep it! Jesus said it this way, “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me (John 14.24). Jesus spoke His Father’s words just as we are to speak those words, words of the Father, Son, and Spirit. We cannot speak those words without study and meditation and a constant diet of every Word that comes from the mouth of God. This, I believe, is why the Psalm prays as it does to...

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

The words and meditations are our speech that begin from God’s speech. May all our words and meditations be acceptable to God.

 

 

  • Speech Pours Out

 

There are, in this Psalm, three sources of speech that give life. Creation, God, and God’s people. Creation will continue to speak its words of glory. God has spoken and will continue to speak through His word. We are called to speak as well, sometimes by showing other the speech of creation, sometimes telling them of God’s speech in the Bible, and sometimes by our own words of testimony that tell of God’s great and wonderful deeds. Creation takes what God gives, the trees, the birds, the bees making honey, and they sing praises by doing what they are created to do. God’s Word is God’s Word and speaks the Good News of God’s great love. We are the agents that need to eat that Word so that we might speak it in word and action. We are given a gift of freedom, choice, and unfortunately we too often choose not to eat God’s Words as Jeremiah did. Think of it in the way the commentator Artur Weiser says, “For the poet, the law is the point at which an encounter takes place with the living God who reveals himself in the law” (The Psalms, 202). We are the poets and every time we enter into God’s Word we enable that Word to pour forth through us. This is the honor and responsibility God gives.

Speech pours out through creation. Speech pours out through the Bible. And speech pours out through us and does so all the time. If we are not studying and reading God’s Word, our speech will not reflect His Word. Let our speech be God’s speech as we feast on His Word.

 
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