Scripture Text: Psalm 19:7-14
Last week, we looked at another aspect of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. We learned that a disciple is someone who follows a teacher, who learns his teachings, and who shares with others what he or she learned. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means we follow Jesus. It also means we follow His teachings in the Bible. Last week, we looked at Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, which spoke of the psalmist’s delight in the Word of God. The psalm spoke of the value of the Word of God and how we show that we value the Word of God. We learned from Psalm 119 to use God’s Word as a guide in all situations. The Bible is a lamp that reveals the path of moral decisions. It tells us what we should do. God’s Word also revives us in times of trouble. When you are afflicted or go through a difficult time, the Bible can comfort you with words of hope and encouragement. The Bible is also a source of joy. Not only will God’s Word comfort you, it will also give you joy, no matter what trouble you face. No matter what the world does or what direction our nation goes, we can trust what God has said. The Bible is a treasure and we should delight in it. It is God’s love letter to us that we should cherish.
Today, we continue our look at God’s Word as it relates to us being disciples of Christ. Psalm 19 is a psalm of David that is about God revealing Himself to us. The first six verses of this psalm speak of God revealing Himself through His creation. Through creation, God’s handiwork, everyone gains knowledge of God’s glory. This is similar to something Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans. The first chapter of Romans reads, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” Therefore, mankind is without excuse in regard to a general knowledge of God (Romans 1:19-20). God is the great designer, the great watchmaker, the great Creator. The rest of Psalm 19 speaks of another way God reveals Himself, a special kind of revelation. It is somewhat mentioned in the first six verses. Those verses say such things as the heavens “declaring”, the sky “proclaiming”, their “voice” and “words” are heard around the world. Do you hear what I hear in that? Words are important! God has revealed Himself by natural revelation (Psalm 19:1–6), and He has revealed Himself more perfectly through the special revelation of His written Word (Psalm 19:7-14). Over half of this psalm is about God revealing Himself through His own Word — the Bible.
God’s Word is His Perfect Written Revelation
As I mentioned last week, many, if not all of us, consider the Bible to be God’s inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. We believe God spoke it, that it does not contain any errors, and that it will never mislead us. But not everyone shares that view. In fact, some Christians do not believe the Bible is always true. In fact, some so-called Christians do not believe Jesus is the only way to God. Of course, if one does not believe the Bible is true, then he would not believe what it says about the Savior. But, the Bible is true. God does not lie. He has given us a perfect record of what He has chosen to reveal to us. How would you describe the Bible? What things would you say about it? In this psalm, David goes through a litany of descriptions to describe how precious God’s Word really is. Look at the following verses.
Psalm 19:7–9 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, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
These verses call God’s Word several things. The terms law, testimony, precepts, commandment, and rules really speak of the first five books of the Bible. They are ways of referring to the covenant of Moses. David uses each of these terms to describe God’s revelation through His written Word. David then describes the Word of God in six ways. The Word of God is perfect, sure, right, pure, true, and righteous. Basically, the Bible is God’s perfect written revelation of Himself. David then declared that the Word of God did several things. It revives the soul. No matter what our sins may be or our problems are, the Bible is able to turn us from our sins, lead us through our problems, and enrich us so that we are able to enjoy life. The Word of God also makes us wise. The one who is open to God’s instructions will become wise. On the other hand, the one who thinks he is too wise to adhere to God’s wisdom will show himself to be a fool. Paul wrote in First Corinthians, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:19–21).
The Word of God is also right and brings joy to our hearts. The Word of God being right does not mean it is correct as opposed to being wrong, although it is. The idea here seems to be more that it is trustworthy. This means you count on what the Bible says to be true. People have a relative idea of truth today, believing that truth changes from generation to generation and from one individual’s perception to another individual’s perception. Some believe that nothing is certain. But the Bible teaches that truth is absolute and unchanging. Truth is grounded in the character of God, who is likewise unchanging. Therefore a wise person will build his or her life upon it. The Bible speaks of its own trustworthiness several times. Look at just two other statements in scripture.
Psalm 119:160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Because God’s Word is trustworthy, it brings joy to our hearts. C.H. Spurgeon once wrote that “heavenly delights (received from God’s Word) satisfy the inner nature, and fill the mental faculties to the brim.” What can the world give to compete with heavenly joy? The Word of God also enlightens us. David already mentioned a source of “enlightenment” earlier in this psalm. The sun in verses four through six does this, as do candles or lamps, which we saw last week in Psalm 119. Anything that illumines a right path in life enables us to walk in it without stumbling. This is the idea here, though it may also mean that it purges darkness out of us and enables us to see clearly. Later in the psalm, David mentioned how God’s Word warns us from hurting ourselves. The Bible also endures forever. Since the Word of God is entirely pure, being without any deficiency, error, fault, or inadequacy, it along with the God who spoke it is the most enduring of all things. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Thus, God’s Word is His perfect written revelation.
God’s Word is A Great Treasure with Great Reward
What if we say the Bible is important? What if we say that it is valuable? What if we say it is true and forever? Do we really believe those things? Do we really treat the Bible like the treasure that it is? I admit that I oftentimes approach scripture reluctantly or with a sense of duty. How many of us find scripture a delight or joy? Christians in other parts of the world have a completely opposite view. Christians who live in places where following Christ is illegal, where having a Bible is not allowed, have a different perspective of God’s Word that is not often seen in the United States. After describing in the previous verses what God’s Word is and what it does for us, David went on to describe how precious God’s Word was to him. Look at the following verses.
Psalm 19:10–11 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.
Because God’s words are “clean,” “enduring,” “true,” and “righteous”, they are more desirable than gold. Most of us would probably consider gold to be very valuable. Most of us would consider gold to be very desirable. David felt that God’s Word was even more valuable than gold, like Chinese Christians who just received their first Bibles. The fundamental attitude here is one of delight. God’s instructions are more desirable than the best riches and more pleasurable than the finest food. But do we treat God’s Word as the treasure that it is? If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, do you to read the Bible regularly? Do you resist reading it or do you consider it something you must do? Do you resist motivational helps like a reading plan because you think you are fine without it? If that is true, then how are you doing reading God’s Word? Do you love it? Desire it? Treasure it? The disciple of Christ will love God’s Word from an outflow of love for God. Our love for God’s Word is a reflection of our love for God. If we do not desire God’s Word like we should, then we probably do not desire God as we should.
David also mentioned that there is great reward from God’s Word. How does the Bible cause us to have this great reward? First, there is a warning. The one who knows the law is warned by it. Against what? It warns us against sin and its harmful effects. It warns us against the lies and errors of this world. We need such warnings because the world around us is clever and pervasive, and there is nothing except the Bible to stand against its deceptions. John Bunyan had it right when he said of the Bible, “This Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book.” Just reading the Bible is not the reward, though. Notice what is said. It does not say that the one who has the Bible has a great reward. It also does not say that the one who reads the Bible has a great reward. It does not even say that the one who obeys God’s commands will be rewarded, though that is true. It says rather, “In keeping them there is great reward”. The upright are actually blessed in their uprightness. To be holy is to be content.
God’s Word Reveals Our Sin and Invites Humility
God’s Word is His perfect written revelation. God’s Word is also a great treasure with great reward. How do you respond to God’s Word when you read it, though? What effect does it have on you? Although some may use the Word of God as a means of scholarly debate or to pronounce judgement or manipulate others, that is not what this psalm says. Instead, David was motivated to reflect on his own moral failures, known and unknown. David was led by God’s Word to rely on God’s forgiveness and to seek protection from the bondage of sin. Look at the last few verses of this passage.
Psalm 19:12–14 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.
This is how David responded to God’s Word. His response falls into two categories.
The first was a prayer that God will forgive his sin and deliver him from additional transgressions. This is what God’s Word ought to do. It ought to pierce our hearts and draw us to God for forgiveness. Sometimes we treat forgiveness lightly, asking God to forgive us but not really thinking that we are sinners, at least not serious sinners. You have heard it said, “Well, at least I am not as bad as that person.” We sometimes treat forgiveness almost like a basic human right and not the gift of God that it really is. David asked, “Who can discern the servant’s errors?” The answer is God. Through His Word, He examines our heart. God’s Word discerns our errors. It reveals even our hidden sins. Just as the sun’s heat searches every nook and cranny so that “there is nothing hidden from its heat” (Psalm 19:6), so too the Word of God searches all the hiding places of the soul. It reveals to us our sin and draws us to God for forgiveness.
The second part of David’s response to God’s Word was an appeal to God as his Rock and Redeemer. We are not only led to see ourselves as sinners when we study the Bible. The Bible also leads us to the One who is our only deliverer from sin. The Bible does not save us from our sin, but it leads us to the One who does save and deliver us. There is another way of God revealing Himself to us — Jesus. Christ is the greatest revelation of God. He is the living Word of God. The apostle John declared Jesus to be the Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God, and through whom all things were made (John 1:1-18). How is it possible for us to be “blameless”, “innocent”, and “acceptable” as this psalm declares (Psalm 19:13–14)? We can only be this way through Christ. Jesus has become the “redeemer” whose righteous record is the “rock” of a believer’s life. The Bible shows that Jesus is our Redeemer from sin, that is, the One who is able to break sin’s bonds and set us free. He is the Rock upon which the redeemed man or woman can build and be kept from transgressions.
In closing, God has revealed Himself in many ways. He has revealed Himself by natural revelation (Psalm 19:1–6), through His creation. Everyone can see evidence of God through the natural world and they are without excuse. God has also revealed Himself more perfectly through the special revelation of His written Word (Psalm 19:7-14), the Bible. God’s Word is a faithful expression of God’s character. It is trustworthy. As such, God’s Word is a great treasure with a great reward. It is more precious than the most valuable riches of this world. God wants us to desire it and to treasure it. If you find yourself not getting much out of the Bible, then it is an indication of where you are in your relationship with God. Pray for the desire to love God’s Word, to treasure it above all material possessions. Lastly, God’s Word reveals our sin and invites a humble attitude. The Bible pulls back the veneer that we so carefully use to cover our sin. It pierces our hearts and invites us to draw closer to God. The reward of keeping God’s Word is to be more like Jesus, the Son of God. Godliness is its own reward. If you fill your mind with things that are sure, right, pure, true and righteous, like God’s Word, you can expect results of the same. Get into the Bible. Read it. Love it. Get to know God better through it. This is good news. Thanks be to God. Amen!
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.