The Bible is God’s Perfect and Precious Word

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Psalm 19 – The Bible is God’s Perfect and Precious Word

Sunday June 7, 2020 – Speaker Mark Penn

Introduction

Have you found it harder than usual to communicate with other people during the isolation of COVID-19. I know that I have and one of the reasons that I believe that communication is so difficult during COVID-19 is that we have been unable to physically meet together. So for many of us, we have replaced meeting together in person with Zoom video calls, other video apps or the telephone. Now don’t get me wrong, I am really thankful for the technology, and give God great praise that we are able to share our lives via this technology. Without these things we wouldn’t be able to do online church or growth groups. Having said all of that, it is quite plain that communication between people is more than just the words that are said. When we communicate we use verbal and nonverbal communication. This can be a challenge when using Zoom for example, as we have to make a decision about the ‘how’ of what is being said without seeing all of the nonverbal clues. You can’t really see if the other person is looking you in the eye, or whether they are bored and reading the online newspaper. This becomes twice as hard when someone decides to be part of a group with their camera off. Nonverbal communication isn’t limited to body language of course. Paintings are a type of non-verbal communication, as is classical music. Now by looking at a painting or listening to music we can ascertain the skill of the artist. So if this is true for humankind, how much more true is it for the creator of all things. And this is where we find ourselves today.

Psalm 19 speaks of God communicating with his creation. Yet it does this by showing God’s nonverbal communication as well as His verbal communication. And if you are mesmerised by any human artist through their paintings or music, then seeing the Glory of the creator should leave you absolutely spellbound. As I pondered the fact that God himself communicates to us not just in words, I kept thinking about the artworks that I see in the sky each morning and evening. Here are three of my shots from the last month. God is speaking without words.

I have broken today’s passage down into three sections. The main two are:

  1. God communicates through creation 1-6
  2. God speaks specifically to us through his Perfect Word 7-11

And then the brief third section is:

  1. Responding to God’s word 12-14

Part 1 – (1-6) God communicates through Creation

As we begin to travel through psalm 19 verse by verse we need to remember a few core truths about the book of psalms. This is a hymn to be sung by Israel. It is poetry, it is indeed poetry that is true, but none the less written using Hebrew poetry, with its repetition through its seconding sequence.  This psalm was ascribed to King David.

1The heavens declare the glory of God;

         the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2Day after Day they pour fourth speech;

         night after night they reveal knowledge.

 

The heavens used here is another way of saying the sky, the universe, everything above us. The sun, the stars and the moon. When we look up at these we see the glory of God. Why, because they show God’s handy-work. They show, they preach, they proclaim what He has created. The phrase the work of his hands leads us straight away to the idea of an artist who with his hands moulds clay into beautiful  statue, or a painter who captures an image on canvass. Likewise God is seen in what he has created. Creation glorifies the creator. God is the ultimate artist.

 

Verse two shows that the sky doesn’t stop. The earth rotates, the stars and the moon are kept in their place by God’s hand. He not only created all things, yet he sustains His creation perfectly. The knowledge revealed is that God is behind all of this. And this knowledge is being poured out continually. It is like a gushing spring of water. What we see in this verse is that creation is always, is continually talking about, or pointing to God, his creativity, wisdom and glory. At night when we see the moon and the stars we continue to be reminded of God and his work in creation. We are not left with a black empty sky, but a sky that continues to reveal God the creator.

 

3They have no speech, they use no words;

         no sound is heard from them.

4Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

         their words to the ends of the world.

 

But hang on verse three now says that they have no speech, after we have just read in verse two that that they poor fourth speech? Confused. Well there is no need to be. We speak all the time without words. It is what I spoke of earlier called non-verbal communication. Let me give you an example from my own life. When I say something that perhaps wasn’t quite the right thing to say and I am with my wife. Well she doesn’t need to say a word to me. She can give me a look and I understand exactly what she is saying….. No what this verse is saying is that there are no spoken words. There are no words that can be heard. So, this is non-verbal. There is indeed a message, yet that message isn’t being spoken using a voice, or whispering.

 

4bIn the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

5It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6It rises at one end of the heavens

         and makes its circuit to the other;

         nothing is deprived of its warmth.

 

Pardon the pun, but the sun shines the glory of God. Once again the psalm talks of God’s work in creation. The sun which to us is so powerful, so necessary, so dangerous in many ways. This sun is completely and utterly obedient to God, who created it. It follows the circuit that God has set out for it, that it may do the job that God has assigned it and warm us. The sun glorifies God.

In fact, have you ever heard the expression that ‘a picture paints a thousand words? Because I think that would be worth hanging onto at this moment.

Creation points to God, it glorifies Him, it magnifies Him, it shows that there is no one like Him. This is what creation says to us. It says that we do indeed have a creator and that His hands have made all of this. Paul says this clearly in his letter to the church in Rome. In verse 20 of Romans one he states:

 

Romans 1:20

20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

 

In theological terms there are two ways in which we know about God. That is there are two ways in which God reveals himself. These are called General revelation and special revelation. Now this psalm today deals with both General and Special revelation. General revelation is as the name implies, a revelation that everyone has. This is what we have just seen in the verses of Roman 1. Verse 20 makes it clear that everybody can see creation and that creation speaks about and points to God. That is what the first six verses of Psalm 19 are telling us this morning. Look into the sky, look at the Sun and the stars and at all of creation. You cannot help but see the handiwork of God. But not just his handiwork, you can see his Glory, his wisdom, his might. So we can see God in his creation. Yet this is not the end, but only the beginning.

 

God has also revealed himself through his word, through scripture, through the Bible. So we move to the second part of Psalm 19.

Part 2 (7-11) – God speaks specifically to us through His Perfect word

Scripture is God’s revelation

 We move from general revelation to special revelation. From creation to God’s word, the bible. I want to highlight three things in this section this morning. Firstly that scripture, the bible that we read comes from God. Secondly, that because scripture comes from God is can be trusted fully. Thirdly that Scripture is beneficial. Finally, that Scripture is precious beyond compare. God reveals himself more fully in scripture. In Scripture we come to know Jesus our redeemer!

 

7The law of the Lord is perfect,

         refreshing the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,

         making wise the simple.

8The precepts of the Lord are right,

         giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

         giving light to the eyes.

9The fear of the Lord is pure,

         enduring forever.

The decrees of the Lord are firm,

         and all of them are righteous.

 

The word Lord is used six times in verses 7-9. The law of the Lord, the statutes of the Lord, The precepts of the Lord, The commands of the Lord, The fear of the Lord and The decrees of the Lord. We cannot miss that David is saying emphatically that all scripture is from God himself. That the Bible is indeed God’s word. That is the first and most important thing to take out of this section of the psalm and indeed the whole psalm. Scripture is God’s word. God reveals himself through scripture.

Next we see that in the lead line in each verse a different word for a part or genre of scripture is used. For example, The Law of the Lord, the statutes of the Lord and so on. This is poetry and it is right to think of these separate terms describing God’s written word in general. These synonyms do all indeed have their own nuance, yet this is poetry and what here is said of one part of scripture is to be held about the scriptures as a whole.

Scripture is Perfect

Ok, but what does perfect mean. It means that scripture, all of the bible, everything that is in this book is complete, it is correct, it is without error. It is flawless. If we think about how we use the word perfect. If something is perfect, well then it can’t be made better. If something is perfect, there is nothing that we can add to it to make it better. In fact if you did try and add or takeaway anything from something that is perfect, well you would end up with something that wasn’t perfect. That is just logical. Revelation 22 I believe also asserts to the fact that what John has written down in that book is perfect and indeed God’s word.

 

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

 

Trustworthy is the next adjective, the ESV uses the word ‘sure’. It is verified. It can be trusted. It has been checked and it is correct. We therefore can have confidence in scripture. There is a word that is used in theology called inerrant. So if you hear someone say that the Bible is inerrant, they are saying that is free from error.  This is what Psalm 19 is saying when calling scripture trustworthy.

Scripture is right, which I think is more than just correct. It is the idea of right morally, or the idea of a straight line that doesn’t have any bend in it. It is perfectly straight. It is perfectly right. Scripture then is the measure by which everything else can be measured.

Radiant, Pure. This is what the commands of the Lord are. This is what scripture is. It is without blemish. The bible literarily shines. And finally scripture is eternal and unchanging. Think about that for a moment. Scripture will never change or fade or lose any of what God has communicated via this written word. It is indeed perfect.

Scripture is beneficial

The second line of each of these poetic verses are incredible. We need to listen to this. Let’s look at this together. The NIV says here The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The ESV uses the word ‘reviving’ the soul. Tim Keller puts this really well when he says “Scripture has the power to show you who you really are.” To revive you, to make you who you are meant to be. Only scripture can make you who you really are. Only Scripture shows you that you are loved. Only scripture shows us that we are sinful. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Yet through God’s mercy scripture shows us that we can be reconciled with God. 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”

Scripture makes wise the simple. Whoever you are, if you read scripture, it will give you wisdom.

Scripture fills our heart with Joy. That is not just a statement, it is a promise. Read God’s word and you will find joy. Do we believe that. I’m not sure we do. For if we believe what is written right here in Psalm 19, then surely reading our bible daily wouldn’t be seen as a struggle, but pure pleasure. Psalm 1 says that the one who meditates on the scriptures day and night is blessed. This is the one who follows God’s way. Read your bible.

Scripture also gives light to the eyes. Scripture is pure and it gives clarity to the reader. Only scripture can make us see clearly, only scripture can remove the blind spot that we have for God. Scriptures revelation shows us clearly who God is. His love for us bourne out in Jesus.

Only through God’s revelation of salvation in the bible can we be saved. Romans 10:17 says “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

So the Bible is perfect, it is how God speaks to us. It is how God communicates salvation through Jesus to us.

Scripture is uniquely valuable
Do you see then what David says about scripture in verses ten and eleven. Even though this is poetry, let’s not let the thrust of these verses be missed.

 

10 They are more precious than gold,

         Than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,

         than honey from the honeycomb.

11 By them your servant is warned;

         In keeping them there is great reward.

 

Let’s remember context here. This was written by King David some three thousand years ago. Gold was arguably the ultimate symbol of wealth in David’s time. And David had plenty of it.

In 1 Chronicles 22:14 we read that David provided for the temple of the Lord a hundred thousand talents of Gold (this is 3,750 tons). Just to put that in perspective. Fort Knox in the USA which houses over 56% of the reserves of Gold that the USA keeps has 4,583 tons of Gold. So when we read that God’s word is more precious than gold, and not just a little gold, lots of gold. Well what we can discern from this is that God’s word is the ultimate wealth. Nothing trumps it. Nothing is more valuable than God’s word.  Further nothing delights the senses like God’s word. Nothing could taste, smell or look as good as God’s word. Now I love my food, but David is saying desire God’s word more than even the best food. Nothing tastes as good as God’s word.

 

Then we come to verse eleven.

11 By them your servant is warned;

         in keeping them there is great reward.

 

These words were true for David and are just as true for us today. Being obedient to God’s word is what we are called to be. The bible gives us all of the instructions that we need to live life as God wants us to. Of course as believers we can’t hope to do this is not through our own clever thoughts and processes, but by the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

John 14:26 “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

There is great reward in being obedient to scripture. Of course salvation is the greatest reward we enjoy by trusting in Jesus as we read in the bible. However, it is also true that living life God’s way will mean contentment, will mean peace. God promises us that if we trust him we will have peace and contentment. Philippians 4:6-7 shows this promise.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Isn’t this wonderful news. God through his word offers those who put their trust in Jesus peace.

Part 3 – Responding to God’s Word

We have been talking about Read, Reflect, Respond this year, because as a church ‘we want to be a community that is growing in love for God through a growing knowledge of his word and trust in it.’ That is what we are aiming for. I pray that through today’s sermon, through seeing what Psalm 19 says about God’s word the Bible, that we would all be encouraged to read God’s word more often.

You’ll be pleased to know that I will be brief in the last few verses. Verse 12-14 are King David’s response to God’s general and special revelation. David sees that the heavens glorify God, he also understood that God’s word is perfect and precious. Through reading God’s word he sees that he is a sinner and that he needs God’s forgiveness. So David responds to God in prayer.

 

12 But who can discern their own errors?

         Forgive my hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant also from wilful sins;

         may they not rule over me.

         Then I will be blameless,

         innocent of great transgression.

14 May the words of my mouth and this

         meditation of my heart

         be pleasing in your sight,

         Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

 

David asks for forgiveness. He asks for forgiveness for all of his sins and specifically the ones that he doesn’t even know that he has committed. God’s word has shown David that he is a sinner and needs forgiveness. So he prays and asks the Father for forgiveness, but he also asks for God’s help in not sinning. David wants to be obedient to God’s word, but he knows that through his own efforts this is impossible. He further prays that he would live a life that is pleasing to God. He understands that only God his rock can help him live this way. Through reading God’s word and praying to the Father. And this wonderful psalm ends with the word Redeemer, for that is what scripture portrays. In scripture we see God’s loves for us, we see that God wants us to have eternal life with Him as our God and us as his people. Jesus is the great Redeemer, He laid down his life so that we might have life.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

You can’t have God without the word, and you can’t have the word without God. Psalm 19 gives us a picture of how we should treat the word of God. Of how beautiful it is and how precious. So here’s a question that I want to leave you with this morning. Do you love God’s word, do you love the Bible?  If God is the creator and sustainer of all things, then surely his words are the most important, the best, the most worthwhile words in the world. Let’s pray.