Psalm 19 (ESV)
1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 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,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 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.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors?
declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 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.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
I’ve been pondering this Psalm for the past few weeks as I prepare to teach Women’s Sunday School at our church today. It seems to me that this Psalm is all about God’s revelation: through His creation and through His Word. The psalmist is awed by both what the world around him reveals about God and by what God’s law reveals. His only possible response at the end is to realize his own sin and how far he is from the holy God and to ask God to find his offering acceptable.
Our Children’s Sunday School has been studying catechism this year and both John and David are currently working on memorizing catechism questions related to the Ten Commandments. John this past week has been working on learning the questions about the Third Commandment (not taking the name of the Lord in vain). The catechism expounds on the concept of “name” to mean that we are to treat all of God’s names, titles, qualities, works and word with respect. It then goes on to ask:
What does the third commandment forbid?
The third commandment forbids our treating as unholy or abusing anything God uses to make Himself known. (Question and Answer 55, Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English)
In reflecting on this question and Psalm 19 together, I thought about the ways God reveals Himself. As someone who loves science, I’ve always seen the hand of God in the intricate inner working of the cells or the complexity of a chemical reaction. As an introvert, I tend to feel closest to God when walking alone on a beach at sunrise or when sitting on a rock over a powerful waterfall. God also reveals Himself through our relationships: the laugh of a child, a friend who cries with us, a kind word when needed. And of course, God reveals Himself through His Word and through worship with a community of believers. I’m certainly not always perfect at recognizing those moments of revelation and praising Him but I think often my response is to thank him for the beauty of a sunrise or the kindness of a friend.
Here’s where it gets tricky. God also reveals Himself in ways I don’t always recognize. Maybe it’s in the common grace available to me during a particularly tough day. Maybe it’s in the pain in a stubbed toe. Pain that serves as much of an important purpose in the body as almost anything else. Maybe it’s in the loneliness that I feel when I’m snubbed by someone I thought was a friend. Those means of revelation are harder for me to see and are easier for me to curse. It’s one thing to cry out to God and ask for Him to take hardship away; it’s another to refuse to believe that the hardship is part of His revelation.
*As a footnote of sorts, I always find it difficult to talk about “suffering” when I live an incredibly blessed and comfortable life. I’m no theologian and reconciling God with the evil and true suffering in the world is one that I struggle with. What I come back to is that I know God is good. I know evil exists. Beyond that, the question is one I wrestle with and probably always will.