Last week at this blog I reminded you that a central aim for our sermon series through The Whole Story in the Bible is to inspire you to read this life-transforming book. As part of your daily reading plan, I pointed to the spiritual practice of reading a Psalm each day, because…
“…we believe that reading the Bible isn’t just an intellectual experience, but also spiritual. We invite you to take the year to develop the daily habit of praying through the Psalms [as a spiritual experience]. And by the end of the year, you’ll have prayed through the whole book of Psalms two and a half times!” (The Bible Project)
So, this last Sunday, I preached a sermon from Psalm 19 for two reasons. One was to provide this simple reminder and encouragement to read a Psalm each day. Another was to highlight the orienting nature that the Psalms provide to our wandering hearts. Namely, when we find ourselves going astray, the Psalms provide a spiritual guide (the Psalmist) and map (the Psalm) to find our way back to our Refuge and Redeemer.
One of the orienting helps that David provides in Psalm 19 is the created world that surrounds us every day. He describes how it points us to the transcendent God, reminding us he is the GOD who is there, informing us about who he is by what he has made.
I’m often helped by great people of the faith who have gone before us, and written down there own meditations (Psalm 19:14) for our instruction. One such person is St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived from 335-394. One historian calls him “one of the church’s profoundest and most eloquent thinkers and writers…on the Christian life.” I found it quite providential that, while reading from the church fathers on Sunday evening, after having preached on Psalm 19 in the morning, I came across his meditation on Psalm 19:3!
David says, “there is neither speech nor language, where their voice is not heard” (19:3).
How can this declaring and showing be silent? Can there be a voice that doesn’t speak to the ear? Is David contradicting himself with an impossibility, when he speaks of words with no sound, speech without language, proclamation without voice? Or is there not truth’s pure perfection in his teaching, telling us that heaven’s speech, and the word proclaimed by the day, isn’t an expressive voice or lip-language, but a manifestation of God’s power to those who can hear it, even though they hear no voice?…Nothing has arisen from chance or accident. Some fantasise that our whole universe was fashioned by purposeless chance-combinations of primary elements, and that no providence pervades the cosmos. But Scripture teaches that the universe has a Cause behind its systematic organisation. On this Cause, all nature depends; it owes its beginning and foundation to Him towards whom it aspires and moves, in whom it rests. As Paul says, His eternal power and Deity are understood, clearly seen through the world’s creation (Romans 1:19). Thus all creation and, above all, the orderliness of the heavens, declare the Maker’s wisdom in His skilful works.
This, I think, is what David wants to say: visible things testify to the universe’s wise, skilful fashioning, and continuance through the Lord’s power over all. The heavens, showing the Maker’s wisdom, practically shout with a voice; though silent, they declare the Creator’s craftsmanship. We can hear the heavens teaching us: “O mortals, in looking on us and seeing our beauty and vastness, our incessant orbit with its orderly, harmonious movement, acting in one methodical direction, turn your thoughts to our Ruler! Through the beauty you see, envisage the beauty of the unseen Source!”
Yes, and very amen!
I hope you will make the reading of a Psalm a part of your daily routine. To study further on this remarkable portion of the Bible, you can check out the page on the Psalms over at The Bible Project, where you will find videos and further resources.
One other note: this coming Sunday we will begin a four-week summer sermon series called “We Exist…” We are excited to share with you from God’s word how you can practically live out our purpose statement as a church family to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ, by “moving people one step to the right”, through the tactics found in the Four Es. What are the Four Es, you ask?
We believe it will be a very helpful series to help you seize the summer for the kingdom of God. Join us, starting this Sunday, at 10:30am.
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.
Day Seventeen: The Great Gain Of Godly Contentment
We live in a world where the temptation is constant to believe the amount of our wealth and possessions directly translates to our joy and happiness. The Bible, once again, confronts our culture and holds out another possibility. Namely, “better” does not imply “more,” “bigger,” or “expensive.” It suggests that the reason you still haven’t found what you are looking for is because you’ve been searching in all the wrong places. Wisdom opens our eyes and hearts to deeper wells of contentment.
Day Fifteen: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy. Woh, I always feel like somebody's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? So sang Rockwell in the dawning of my high school years back in 1984. All the cool kids were singing it at the time, and its the tune that sprang to mind when I read this similar sentiment this morning: Yahweh is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3, New Living Translation)
Day Fourteen: Death By Living
For those of us desirous to live a good life, we’ve known since the very beginning of this book that it begins with a healthy awe, reverence, and trembling before the God of the universe whose name is Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7). And here we are again reminded that this humble posture before the Holy One is a fountain overflowing with life.
Day Thirteen: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
One of the key assumptions we’ve been working with as we make our way through the wisdom literature is that God has hardwired wisdom into the way creation (and the creatures within it…us) operates. It was there at the beginning. It’s the inner logic of everything, and the secret code for how it works. (see Proverbs 8:22-31)
Day Eleven: A Pig Is Still A Pig
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22, English Standard Version) “Well…I never!” she replied to the King. Reading this proverb, it seems highly probable to me, given the stories of King Solomon and all the women in his life (1 Kings 11:3), that this was probably a proverb born from experience. He comes along a beautiful woman, of high social standing, of influence and power; but in his interactions with her, he begins to see her true self shining through all her external adornments. She has no discretion—she is a woman of loose and dissolute conversation, her mind and conscience are defiled. There’s a beauty for the eye, but the corruption of her character slowly transforms how Solomon sees her, and no amount of jewelry will cover that up.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.