Psalm 19: God’s glory is right in front of our faces!

This is mostly my personal devotion from this morning – what the Lord said to me. It’s for my personal record and use, but if you find it helpful or useful to yourself, please feel free…

Psalm 19
1The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

7The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring 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 judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
12Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
13Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sin;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptble in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

This Psalm tells us that the purpose of creation on the whole is the same as the purpose of Scripture – to glorify God. Of course, “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28), but creation has always seemed, to me at least, to be more of a prerequisite (we had to be created in order to praise Him) than a means of glorification itself.

The first half of this Psalm focuses on the fact that, were there no Scripture, the Heavens alone would be testimony enough that there is a God and that He is great. But I’d like to look at it in a more practical sense, that being that there is Scripture. We have God’s Word written down; we know His laws; we know the story of His people and what He did for them. As a result, don’t we tend to ignore the book of creation, which was also written by God Himself for the purpose of glorifying His name?

Truly, “Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge” (v 2). That means that if we look at nature in a godly way (that is, considering that He made it all and made it for a purpose), we can always – every second – be communing with Him and learning more about who He is. Yes, even those times when we do not have a Bible in our hands and we aren’t on our knees in prayer, His creation itself will tell us of His wonder.

Continuing in the same vein of nature being yet another testimony to the Lord, the sun appears in verse 4, a direct reference to the “son,” Jesus Christ. God has prepared a throne for Him in Heaven, and when He emerges as the “bridegroom” to marry together the adverse natures of God and man in redemption, He does complete a “circuit” by which He leaves Heaven for Earth, descends into Hell, and ultimately returns to Heaven. Thus ,there really is “nothing hidden from [the sun’s] heat” (v 6), no stone unturned and no place in the universe unvisited by His glory.

For this reason, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (v 7). The “law” the psalmist speaks of refers, of course, both to God’s scriptural laws, and the decree by which He made provision for us to be saved. First, His Son’s reconciliation of us to Him “restores our souls”; second, His word, or “testimony,” will convict and teach us (2 Tim 3:16). The “testimony” refers similarly to the Scriptures, which record for us the decrees and nature of the Lord, and also to creation, in itself a witness to God’s glory, as we have already established.

Lastly, the psalmist sends up a prayer. Though God’s Word and His creation “make wise the simple” and “enlighten our eyes” (vv 7-8), still, “Who can discern his errors” (v 12)? Only God makes a complete circuit, spanning the universe and all knowledge; the principle does not transfer to men. Therefore, no matter how much we study the testimonies to His glory, whether the Bible or His creation or both, we must always seek forgiveness from the only Wise one, the ultimate judge: our Lord God, the creator of Heaven and Earth.


Musings on Peretti’s This Present Darkness

My Christian Ladies’ Book Club has just finished reading and discussing This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti. Soon after we chose this book I learned of its contraversial nature, but I chose not to read anything about the book until I had read the book itself. It turns out, it was very easy to understand, once I read it, why the book is contraversial in the religious world.

Firstly, I will attempt a review of the book as a book instead of as a piece of Christian fiction. There’s not much I can say about it without addressing its religious implications, but I will do my best. The book itself is not Nobel Prize literature, to be sure, but it is a fast-paced page-turner. It will not bore you. The writing may not be poetic or expand your vocabulary, but the plot is dense with adventure. Ironically, the best comparison I can come up with in terms of the writing style is to the way Dan Brown wrote The DaVinci Code (also a riveting page-turner, and one I enjoyed very much, despite the inaccuracies that offended me as a history major, much less as a Christian).

But This Present Darkness is much more than a novel to be discussed in terms of plot, character, rising action, and climax. It evokes some very puzzling questions about my Faith.

One complaint raised at the book club’s monthly meeting last week was that Peretti “made it seem like every tiny thing we did was instigated by angels or demons.” I feel this is definitely a valid complaint in that ascribing all our earthly actions to spiritual motivators somehow absolves us of a bit of our guilt and challenges the idea that we have free will. For instance, when a character in This Present Darkness rapes a woman under the influence of demons, he suffers no consequences for his actions because he is a different person once the demon has been cast out. But shouldn’t we, as Christians, be responsible for wearing and maintaining “the full armor of God” to prevent such breeches? (Ephesians 6)

Nevertheless, there is something to be said for Peretti’s approach. This Present Darkness reminds us that there are angels and demons willing to use our strengths and weaknesses for their purposes in this world, and that if we face a difficult decision, we can pray for God to guide us in the right direction. It also puts in perspective just how much our little lives are ultimately a part of the Lord’s greater plan.

Another point our book club discussed was the concept of “prayer covering” and whether or not it was Biblical. None of us in our group could come up with any examples from the Bible supporting the idea that our prayer lends strength to God’s spiritual warriors, but I do remember the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18), and I know we are constantly called to prayer for ourselves, one another, and the glory of God.

In fact, if we return to Ephesians 6 – the same passage in which Paul advises us to “put on the full armor of God,” we find that prayer plays an important part in spiritual warfare, too. In order to “stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11) we must take up “the helmet of Salvation and the sword of the Spirit . . . And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:17-18). How can we fight with the sword of the Spirit, an integral part of the armor of God, without prayer and petition for the Spirit’s help?

We discussed in our book club that we don’t really know what the effect of our prayers is. Would God save someone He might have forsaken in response to our prayers? Do angels gain influence in the lives of those we pray for? The Bible doesn’t tell us. But the Bible does tell us this: we must constantly be welcoming the Holy Spirit into our lives if we desire God’s presence there. And “If God is for us, who can stand against us?” (Romans 8:31)