Week of February 4

Do You Hope in Sunshine or Sonshine?

Read: Exodus 37-38; Psalm 19; Acts 11

“The law of the Lord is perfect; reviving the soul . . .”
Psalm 19:7a, ESV


“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” The English moral philosopher, Bernard Williams’s (1929-2003) words captured my imagination this morning. I have often viewed beautiful sunrises at home or here where I work, and my heart warms as my lips whisper a “Thank you, Lord, for another day!” I do not know what time of day that David stared heavenward, but I can say that his words resonate deeply in my being, because I know the God who created all there is cares for all there is!

The Meaning of the Text

The poetic rhythm
The 19th psalm’s literary structure unfolds in a simple way. The first six verses are a hymn that celebrates God’s glory as revealed in nature, while the remaining verses provide “a poem that praises the Law, in which Yahweh’s will is revealed” (EBC). The literary style is different in each section, but the theology is central to the entire witness of Scripture. The theological significance of the psalmist’s words cannot be overstated. God leaves nothing to “revelatory chance.”
Revelatory chance? Hardly! God has left nothing to chance in the way He created our world. The revelation of Himself and His will does indeed come to us through nature, but the psalmist adds a deeper level of the Lord’s revelatory majesty—the Scriptures. The natural order truly declares the majesty and glory of God. However, God’s law goes beyond nature’s general revelation, teaches us specifically, and revives the human heart. In my thought, nature calls forth inspiration, but the word of God brings about salvation. So there is indeed specific meaning in the universe and answers to life’s important question.
Questions and answers
Moral meaning in the universe? The heavens reveal to us a broad awareness of God’s majesty. The cycle of night and day contribute to the regularity of God’s world (19:2). God’s moral wisdom is also revealed in this type of creation (cf. Proverbs 8:22-31; EBC). Humankind may speak a variety of languages but God’s creation, being without words, speaks a universal language to those who are “inclined” to hear (19:3-4b). The psalmist did not understand the solar system as we do today, but he knew how to describe God’s majesty as reflected in it! The sun, likened to a bridegroom leaving the wedding canopy, also reveals God’s glory, power, and wisdom (19:4c-6). As spectacular as this all is, it begs for something more! And God provides what is morally needed through the light (truth) in His word. “Walking in this light, the believer is moved to seek divine forgiveness and approval” (HCBC).
God’s saving message
God’s redemptive will. Many folks have told me through the years, “I can worship God just as well at the lake as I can in church.” I think to myself, “Yes, you can worship God at the lake, but your worship remains incomplete until His word rolls like a wave over your life and transforms your heart” (cf. John 4:12-14). God’s law provides a clearer revelation than nature. The psalmist provides us with a “comprehensive” emphasis of the benefits of God’s law: “law,” “statutes” (19:7), “precepts,” “commands” (19:8), and “fear,” “ordinances” (19:9). So nature does reveal the Creator-God (El), but the law reveals the “Covenant God” (Yahweh). Therefore, the law provides a clearer understanding of who God is and what He expects of us. Trust me, His word is good for our lives. The big decision for us to make daily is to choose God’s way as our way. We will be rewarded greatly by responding to God’s revelation (19:10-11).

The Message for Your Heart

I recall a childhood trip to the lake with my Royal Ambassador group. R.A.s (we used the acronym) was the Southern Baptists’ mission education organization for boys. That ministry greatly impacted my life, and I still follow the R.A. pledge to this day—but I digress! Anyway, the journey with my friends was awesome, and I have the picture to this day of me swimming in the lake. It was both spiritual and fun, but it never occurred to me that the sunny great outdoors could transform my dark indoors, so to speak. I needed more for lasting hope.
You can worship nature, but you are a fish out of moral water if you believe that creation alone will satisfy your innermost need. Keep in mind, we all need more than nature to be saved in this wicked world. Looking at the psalm from this side of the Cross, we see the need for a greater servant (19:11, 13), who is pleasing in God’s sight (19:14). The full and complete revelation of God, shown in verses 7-9, is made complete in God incarnate, Jesus Christ. The point of the psalm is to see the greater revelation of God in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3; Matthew 5-7; Galatians 3:26-4:27; EBC)! Oh, I do enjoy seeing God in nature, but I am most joyful in experiencing a changed nature that comes when I encounter His truest Word, the Savior.

For Thought and Action

1. At various times today look at the heavens or at a beautiful flower garden or a majestic tree. Find Bible passages that help you to give praise for God’s creation. Reflect upon the deeper blessing of God’s “new creation” in your life that comes through Jesus Christ. Praise God for His world and for His salvation.
2. For Families: When the weekend gives a bit more breathing room, and the weather permits, it might be a fun trip on Friday or Saturday night to go pick up fast food hamburgers (or pack a basket from home), and head out of town for a supper picnic.

Find a place with a good elevation and a clear view of the horizon, so you can watch the sun go down as you eat your meal together. Then, as the stars come out, wrap up in warm quilts and lie down on a blanket to watch the night sky. If you have brought your star map, show where the different star constellations are, so that your children can learn their names.

Then, before you leave, tell your children that God is an artist. You all are looking at His canvas. And He left poetry for us to read in Psalm 19 (verses 1-14). Then read it slowly, savoring each lovely phrase. Thank God together for this wonderful time of praising God for both what He has made, and for His Word that reveals Himself to us.

May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock