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God's Works and Word

J. R. Miller, 1912

Psalm 19

http://www.gracegems.org/Miller/SERMONS.htm

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge."

"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. 
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. 
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes."

We have two Bibles. One is written on the pages of nature—and the other on the pages of the inspired Word. In this Psalm, we have the summaries of the teaching of both.

In the earlier portion, the poet tells us about the teachings of the heavens: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge." And if in David's days God's glory was declared in the heavens, how much more now, since the telescope has revealed such marvelous things about the extent of the starry world that were not known then! Only remember that nearly all the stars we see are suns, probably centers of systems of planets; and that those we see, are but the merest fraction of the actual number—only those that our telescopes can bring into view. The truth is, that there are millions of suns in the heavens, some of them so far from us that it takes thousands of years for light to come from them to us.

Anyone who has given even a little attention to the study of astronomy is prepared to appreciate the thought of this verse. The heavens declare the glory of God. Think what glories of the night there are—which the day hides! If our sun never set—we would never see the splendors of the heavens. A poet imagines our first parent watching the sun nearing the horizon the evening of his first day. He was in great terror as he thought of the sun sinking away—and leaving the world in darkness! But when the orb of day disappeared quietly, lo! a new universe had burst upon his vision. Night revealed far more than it hid!

Think of the power that called into being, such a multitude of worlds, and that sustains them age after age. Think of the wisdom that made such a universe of flying suns, planets, and comets, so perfectly adjusting their orbits and their motions—that they never clash in their orbits, that they move age after age, so that perfect harmony prevails among the spheres. Science, instead of being an enemy of religion, is its best friend. The more we learn of the marvelous things of God's world, the more do we see, for which to praise and adore the divine Maker and Sustainer.

This is true of all things in nature. There is more beauty in a single little flower—than in the finest work of art ever fashioned by human hand! From the minutest insects to the vast stars, every department of the universe declares the wisdom, the power, the goodness, the faithfulness of God. We ought to study nature more; it is one of God's books.

"Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge." Evermore, nature speaks of God. DAY has its glories, when in the sunshine we see the beauties of field, garden, mountain, valley, forest, river, flower, and plant. Then NIGHT comes, and instead of making desolation in the darkness, it unveils to us its marvelous splendor of sky and stars. Creation widens then, in man's view, and to a devout mind—everything speaks of God! There are spiritual revealings in all nature's pages—to him who has eyes.

Then the Psalm passes from the teachings in nature—to the revealings of the divine Word. The works of God declare His glory—but not His will. For this—we turn to His Word. We never could learn by study the stars, the flowers, or the rocks—how we ought to live; what is right and what is wrong, what will please God or displease Him. We never could learn what God Himself is, what His attributes are, how He feels toward us. We may learn from His works—that He is great, powerful, wise, unchanging, good; but we could not learn from the stars—that He loves us with a tender, personal affection, that He is merciful and gracious. We never could find a gospel of salvation for lost sinners—in the works of God. How thankful we should be for His Word, which tells us all these things!

"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. 
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. 
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes."

Here we have His law, revealed by His own Spirit. It teaches us how to live. It is a perfect law; not only perfect in that it is without flaw—but also in that it is complete as a revelation, containing all we need to know to be saved—and to reach the full stature of Christian men and women. We may turn to the Word of the Lord with every question of duty—and we shall always find the right answer!

Then, it is a beautiful statement also, of the ministry of the Word which we have. It revives the soul. Every human soul needs to be revived. It is ruined by sin; its beauty is tarnished, its grandeur is destroyed. The Word of God is able to build it up, to transform it, to revive the lost splendor, to bring back again the defaced image of God. We know the power the Word of God has over human lives. It first shows men that they are condemned and lost—as it holds up before them the requirements of the divine law. Next, it shows them the cross with its salvation for the guilty. Then it declares to them the will of God by which they are to learn to fashion their lives. As they begin to obey this holy will, it leads them on higher and higher, until they enter heaven's gates and wear the likeness of Christ! Thus The Word revives the soul, transforming it into the likeness of God, which sin had defaced.

"The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart." Many people think that a godly life is gloomy. They suppose that Christians have no joy. They have to deny themselves many pleasures. They cannot have the 'good times' worldly people have. They have to live strictly. They have to follow conscience in all things. It must be very hard. Life must be dreary and joyless to them.

So the people talk, who boast of being free from the restraints of God's Word, and who imagine that they themselves have the happiest times possible. But, as a matter of fact, the happiest people in this world—are those who are keeping God's commandments. Who ever heard of sin giving true joy to the heart? Disobedience never made anyone happy; but obedience always gives peace.

There are fresh-water springs in the sea, which always pour out sweet water beneath the brackish tides. So in the obedient heart, under all self-denials, there is a spring of joy ever flowing. The Christian has sorrows—but he has comforts which turn his sorrows into joy. He practices self-denials, and lives under the restraints of holiness—but he has rewards which far more than compensate for the cost of his service to Christ.

"Moreover by them is your servant warned." The Bible flames with 'red lights'. Every point of danger is marked. Every perilous path has its lamp hung up, warning us not to enter it. We are warned against the Devil and his helpers. We are warned against bad companions, against false teachers, against all wrong courses.

"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." There are different kinds of hidden faults. There are those which we try to hide ourselves, which are done in secret. Then there are those which have not been wrought out in act—sins of thought or imagination, which from lack of opportunity, have never been actually committed.

But the reference here, is to faults or sins which are hidden from ourselves, of which we are not conscious. We all have faults of which we ourselves are not aware. Perhaps other people see them, although we do not. Certainly God sees them. We may be sure at least that there are faults enough in the best of us. Our aim in Christian life should be so high that we shall desire to be cleansed even from all these hidden faults and sins. No fault is so small as to be a trifle, or not to be a blemish in our character. Small faults grow.

We have a beautiful prayer at the close of Psalm 19: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." There could be no higher standard of life, than is set for us in this prayer. 

The conduct may be blameless—while the thoughts are stained with sin. It is easier to keep our acts without fault—than our feelings, our desires, and our affections pure. We may do no outward act of cruelty or unkindness; while our hearts may be full of jealousies, envies, and all selfishness. We are to seek that our thoughts be so white and clean—that they will be acceptable in God's sight. 

The prayer covers our words, our thoughts, and our meditations, each a closer test than the one before. It is a great thing to be faultless in speech. But perfect grammar is not enough. Our words may be beautiful and graceful—and yet our thoughts may be full of hypocrisy, of deceit, of all evil! The prayer here is that our thoughts may please God. This is a higher spiritual attainment, than merely faultless words.

Then, a still higher test of life—is our meditation. Meditations are our deepest thoughts, the quiet ponderings of our hearts. Meditation is almost an obsolete word in these times of hustle and bustle. The word belongs rather to the days when men had much time to think—and think deeply. We meditate when we are alone, when we are shut away from others. Our minds then follow the drift of our own desires, dispositions, and imaginations. If our hearts are clean and good—our meditations are pure and holy. But if our hearts are evil and unclean—our meditations are of the same moral quality. Thus our meditations are an infallible test of our real self. "As a man thinks in his heart—so is he." Proverbs 23:6

This prayer is, therefore, for a life of the highest character—one acceptable to God, not only in words and thoughts—but also in meditations. Such a life everyone who loves God and would be like God—should seek to live!

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