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Why does the Bible say that only a fool says that there is no God? David answers that question in the words of Psalm 19 that we sang earlier. The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands. They speak a universal, unspoken language. It doesn’t matter where you live on earth or what language you speak, when you look up at night and contemplate the vastness of the universe you can’t help but stand in awe of what you see. Only a fool would conclude that all this came about by accident. As the writer to the Hebrews says, every house is built by someone, and God is the one who built everything. The Apostle Paul seems to be thinking of this Psalm when he writes, what can be known about God is evident among them, because God made it evident among them. In fact, his invisible characteristics—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, because they are understood from the things he made. As a result, people are without excuse.
By nature, by looking at the heavens, by examining how our bodies work, how things grow, God gives witness of not only his existence, but of his wisdom and power. But knowing there is a God and that he is wise and powerful is only enough to terrify you, not to save you. God didn’t reveal the way of salvation in the heavens. He has revealed it only in his word. That’s why, after David speaks about the glory of God revealed in nature, he goes on to talk about the glory and power of God revealed in his word.
He presents the glory and power of God’s word by using six different terms for God’s word, followed by six different attributes of the word, and six different blessings of the word.
The law of the LORD is perfect. It revives the soul.
It’s worth noting the fact that when David talks about the glory of God in nature, he uses the more generic word for God, Elohim. But when he talks about the Glory of God revealed in his word, he uses the specific name for the one true God, the God who is faithful to his promises. He uses the word Jehovah, or as our Bibles translate LORD in all caps. Because of the witness of nature people all over the world worship something, an unknown god. But it is only in the Bible that anyone can learn who the one and only true God is and how he alone saves by being faithful to his promises.
It’s also worth noting that the word translated law, as you see in the footnote in your folder, is Torah. Traditionally the Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible, as it does in the name even Jesus used for the Bible, “The Law and the Prophets.” It’s a word that means instruction. So, in this context, don’t think of commandment, think of everything God has given to instruct us, both the law and the gospel.
The instruction of the Lord, the words he has given us in the Bible, are perfect. They are complete. They tell us everything that we need to know about God and about his will for our lives and about how to have eternal life. They revive the soul because, without this instruction from God we would have no hope. We would be like those who reject God and his word and believe that “life’s a ____ and then you die” and that’s all there is. But through the word, our soul is revived, filled with hope, the sure and certain hope of resurrection and eternal life with our wise, powerful, loving God.
The testimony of the LORD is trustworthy. It gives wisdom to the inexperienced.
When God brought his people to Mt. Sinai he chose to speak to them directly. They heard his voice speaking to them from the mountain. But it was terrifying to hear his voice, so the people begged Moses to tell God to stop. They asked that God speak to them through Moses, and God agreed that was good. God gives his testimony about himself and his plan of salvation through prophets, and in these last days, through Jesus himself.
The testimony he gives through those he has chosen to be his prophets is trustworthy. Through Noah he warned the people that a flood was coming, and it came. Through many different prophets he foretold the place of the Messiah’s birth, his betrayal, even specific details about his death and resurrection. During the Lenten season we are reminded that their testimony was trustworthy. Jesus repeatedly told his disciples that he would be handed over to the gentiles, that he would be crucified, but that he would rise again. As the resurrected Jesus spoke with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, their hearts were warmed as he showed them the trustworthiness of Scripture. When you hear a promise of Scripture you can say AMEN! Because God always keeps his word.
Because the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, there is no better place to go for advice. By studying the lives of the patriarchs, of David, of Paul, you can learn from their mistakes, and, even more importantly, learn about the grace and faithfulness of God.
The precepts of the LORD are right. They give joy to the heart. The commandment of the LORD is bright. It gives light to the eyes.
God has established precepts, commands, rules for all he created. The stars and the planets obey the rules he established for them at creation. They follow the orbits he established for them. God has established rules for everything and everyone that exists. We can oppose those rules but living contrary to them brings us trouble and guilt. As we often find out the hard way, things are a lot easier and more fun when you follow the instructions. God states it clearly in the fourth commandment when he says that obeying your parents’ instruction enables you to enjoy life more. Those who see that the commands and precepts of God show the way that is right and good are enlightened. They see the truth. They experience an inner joy that those who reject his commands and precepts will never know.
The fear of the LORD is pure. It stands forever.
God’s word teaches us to stand in awe of God. It teaches us that he is God, and we are not. It teaches us that he is the ruler of all that exists, that his will is done either through us, or in spite of us. We are to fear, love, and trust in him above all things. This is a truth that will never change. Even when we see him face-to-face and live in his presence for all eternity we will never cease to stand in awe of his wisdom, his power, and his love. The fear of the LORD stands forever.
The just decrees of the LORD are truth. They are altogether righteous.
We often wonder about that. It doesn’t always seem to us that the things God does are right. Job didn’t think that what God had decided about his situation was right. He wanted to have God appear to him and give him a chance to argue that his suffering wasn’t right. But when God did appear to him Job realized that he was wrong and that everything God does is righteous. He repented in dust and ashes.
Like Job, we need to learn from God’s word that we deserve much worse than anything we might consider to be unjust. If God did treat us as our sins deserve, we would be eternally condemned. But his righteous decree is that all our sins, all the just punishment we deserve, be given to Jesus instead of to us. His righteous decree is that he considers us not guilty because of Jesus. There is nothing more wonderful than that decree of our gracious LORD.
Considering that it is only through his word that God reveals to us the truth about who he really is, about how everything came to be, about how everything works best, and most importantly, about how we are saved and how he offers salvation for free in Jesus, God’s word is better than much pure gold. It is sweeter than honey fresh from the comb. There is nothing better, nothing more desirable than God’s word. It is the power of God for salvation.
David concludes his song by pointing out the effect God’s word has on him and on all believers.
It warns us. It makes God’s will clear. It shows us what God says is sin, and what God says is pleasing to him. As it does, it makes clear that there are many things we do that are sinful that we wouldn’t even realize if God’s word had not pointed them out to us. So, with David we pray, declare me innocent, cleanse me of hidden sins. Not because I deserve it, not because I didn’t even realize they were sins, but in the only way you can declare me innocent- because of the perfect life and innocent death of Jesus in my place.
With David, we also realize that we have a sinful nature, and we are tempted every day to do things that we know, from God’s word, are wrong. So, we pray with David, restrain us from deliberate sins. Do not let them rule over me. Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from evil. And when we do fall, send a Nathan, a pastor, a Christian friend, to call us to repentance. Strengthen us through the word to resist temptation, to call on you in every trouble, and to trust in Jesus alone for forgiveness and eternal life as your word teaches. Then I will be blameless. Then I will be innocent of great rebellion.
Whenever you are outside on a clear night looking at the stars, looking for a comet, or the northern lights, you can’t help but stand in awe of all that God has made. But God’s glory is even more clearly revealed in his word. Through his word he empowers us for our daily struggles, revealing to us the truth about what is right and wrong, and most importantly, revealing to us the truth about himself. He is the one and only true God. He is wise and all powerful, but most importantly, he is faithful. He made a promise to all humans to send a savior from sin. He kept his promise. As we learn about who Jesus is and what he has done for us we have peace now and we look forward to unending joy in his presence for all eternity. May God’s word be for you more desirable than much pure gold, and sweeter than fresh pure honey.