God's Glory is Clearly Revealed
A sermon based on Psalm 19
Sunday, September 4, 2016
When some people are in pain, hurting and suffering, whether physically or emotionally, some deny the existence of God. They reason that if there really were an all-powerful God of perfect love, he would never allow anyone to suffer. If they're suffering, then there must not be an all-powerful perfectly loving god like the Bible describes.
But it's not that easy. That conclusion just doesn't work because God won't let us off that easily. He storms into our lives with countless proofs of his existence. The created world all around us demands we reconsider the idea of no god.
So there must be some other solution to the dilemma of an all powerful God who let's us suffer. Well, perhaps he's not so loving after all? Well, we can't find the answer these questions in nature. We can only find a solution to the dilemma in the Bible, the revealed Word of God. There, God displays the glory of his grace given us in Christ. There he reveals the greater suffering that he's already saved us from.
While most of the Psalms surrounding Psalm 19 are prayers for deliverance from the suffering or persecution that King David faced, this Psalm offers an interlude of praise that momentarily sets aside his suffering and directs our attention to the glory of God.
As we examine the Psalm of the day this morning, we see God clearly display his glory to us. In God's creation we see his awesome power. In God's Word we see his amazing grace. Listen now to Psalm 19…
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
I. In God's Creation We See His Power
Many people today want to use science to remove God from the equation of the problem of suffering and pain, but it doesn't really work. The evidence of an all powerful God remains incredibly convincing. Just look at nature around you. King David writes, "1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." And he uses the sun and the stars as the perfect example.
Rather than remove God from the picture, science really emphasizes how glorious our God is. Today, thanks to modern science, we have a much clearer picture than David did of how powerful and large stars really are. Did you know (and this is not an exaggeration) that the volume of our sun is over a million times the size of the earth? Did you know that every second it produces as much energy as hundreds of billions of atomic bombs, like the one dropped on Hiroshima?
Even without science, the beauty and majesty we see in nature remain just as convincing! Who isn't awed by the brilliant colors of a glorious sunset? And look at the magnificence of the natural world: The Empire State Building looks like a toy beside the cathedral spires of Zion National Park. The Panama Canal is but a scratch in the surface compared with the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. And no artist or picture can fully capture the same beauty of a sunsets that that you see when you're there in person.
Look at the stars! Just think that as big and powerful as our sin is, it's a dwarf compared to most of the stars in our solar system! And the closest one to us is still more than 4 light years away! That means it could have burned out three years ago and we wouldn't know it for another year! It's light would still be traveling to us for that long! And as awesome as the stars are, they're relatively simple in their structure, compared to you.
Just look at the complexity of the human body! Our digestive systems extract nutrients from food. Our skins help to regulate body temperature by perspiring. The pupils of our eyes expand and contract in response to light. Even when we get sick, our bodies have built-in defenses mechanisms to fight the illness and self-repair. And all these things happen while we're usually unaware of them!
And all of these pieces of evidence for the existence of God are found everywhere. They're universal. There's no place where they can't be found. "3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." And there's no time or era that they can't be found. "2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge."
Transcending space and time, nature has always given the proof of an all-powerful God. To assume that they were all caused by a random collision of atoms is an absurdity. There must be a god. And as big and awesome as the sun, the stars, the nature that surrounds us all is, the God who put it here, must be even bigger and more powerful than them all.
There is no excuse for atheism. No excuse for denying the existence of God just to avoid the problem of suffering. As Paul wrote in Romans 1, "…what may be known about God is plain… because God has made it plain… 20 For 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 men are without excuse." (Romans 1:19-20) Only the fool says in his heart there is no god. (Psalm 14:1)
As the Aztec king, Nezahualcoyotl, (nez-uh-hoo-uh-coy-a-til) said in the 1400's "The gods that I am adoring, what are they but idols of stone without speech or feeling? They could not have made the beauty of the heaven, the sun, the moon, the stars, which light the earth, with its countless streams, its foundations and waters… There must be some God, invisible and unknown, who is the universal Creator."
But, that's all that nature could tell the Aztec king. It couldn't tell him enough. As awesome as nature is, as clearly as it reveals that there is a god, it can never tell us who this real God is. While it's obvious the god of creation is a powerful god, nature can never reveal God the redeemer, the God of grace. That's why we need another source—one other than nature—to solve the problem of pain and suffering in our lives. That's why we need the special revelation of God's grace given to us in his Word…
II. In God's Word We See His Grace
David continued his Psalm praising God for revealing his glory in that special way, "7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
God's Word is perfect, trustworthy and radiant. It gives joy to our hearts and light to our eyes because it reveals to us what nature can't. It revives our souls and brings spiritual refreshment. How? Through law and gospel…
Right after David praises the law, the statutes, the precepts and commands of God, he must admit he doesn't do a very good job of keeping that law. He prays to God, "12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults."
And we know that we must pray the same prayer. We sin so much that we don't even know all our sins. They're not only hidden from other people, those sins of our thoughts and minds—our lust and our greed—but many of our sins are hidden from us as well. Even with the law serving as a mirror to show me my sinful condition, I still don't know how many times I sin in a day. I don't think I want to know.
And thankfully, by God's grace, I don't have to. God doesn't demand that I recall every sin I've committed and report them to a pastor like he's some kind of parole officer. God knows my sins better than I ever will. And by his grace he leads me to pray, "12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults."
And when we do pray for that forgiveness, we can be assured that we will receive the forgiveness we seek. "I [will] be blameless, innocent of great transgression." You see, the Gospel not only motivates my repentance, but it also answers me with complete assurance of forgiveness in Jesus. By his death on the cross, I know that my sins are forgiven and that one day soon I will receive a great reward in heaven.
And by that truth I am revived and completely turned around now. Once hurting and suffering, ready to deny God and die in my despair, I can now rejoice in the grace of my Savior even while I face suffering and pain. Nothing can rob us of the joy we find in God's Word.
Delight in that Word of God that reveals his grace because we can't find that comfort anywhere else. That's why David said, "[God's Word is] more precious than gold, than much pure gold…sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb." Gold and all it can buy will eventually lose its luster, spoil and fade. Honey while sweet to the tongue can't maintain the pleasure it brings once you eat it.
Jesus once said, "19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19-20)
What will matter 100 years from now? That you had a nice car or a bigger home? That you had the best education or the most trophies on your shelf? Or will it matter most that you had a strong faith in your Savior? That your eternity with him is secure? We have the latter only in the Word—that's why it's more precious than anything else—than money or gold, than the food that we eat, than the sun itself on which we so depend.
Dear friends, treat that Word of God as precious as it really is. Take it to heart and even rejoice in the pain and suffering God sends to drive you back into the Word as he leads you to depend on him even more. Learn that word. Treasure it. Gladly sacrifice one hour of sleep on Sunday mornings to come to Bible class. Watch 10 less minutes of TV at night to read a devotion.
Is your Bible all to you that God wants it to be? Pray to God for forgiveness for your hidden faults—for the times you've failed to treasure his Word without even knowing it. Trust in the forgiveness you have in Christ and pray for strength to treasure his Word and live according to it.
Pray along with King David who asked God,"13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."
And as you live a life of service to God, he will use even your pain to reveal his glory. He will reveal his glory to others as you grow in your faith and let your light shine, as you rejoice even when you are suffering. For your pain might give you opportunity to share with them what they can never learn from nature—that God doesn't just display his awesome power in his creation, but he reveals his amazing grace in Jesus Christ through his Word. God's blessings to you in your suffering as God's glory is clearly revealed through you. Amen.