The Testimony & Trustworthiness of God

Posted: October 5, 2011 in Psalms

Psalms 19-20, “The Testimony & Trustworthiness of God”

Have you ever played the game of trust?  You fall backwards into a group of people, hoping that they’re going to catch you.  It’s named “Trust,” but it should more accurately be named “Fear!” 🙂  Simply put, it’s tough to put the type of trust that determines whether or not you’re bodily harmed, into a group of people (no matter how well you know them).  When it comes to those issues of life & death (or even just health), we find out very quickly where our trust lies.

In Psalms 19-20, we learn exactly where David’s trust lies: in the Lord!  Not only does he come right out & state his trust is in the Lord, but we learn the reason for his trust: the sure testimony of God.

Psalm 19 (NKJV) – The Testimony of God
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

  • General revelation …the testimony of Creation. (vss. 1-6)

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

  • Heavens/firmament speak of the sky & outer space.  As we look into the sky, at the stars, and beyond, we cannot help but see the glory of God.  Who hasn’t been in awe of an incoming weather system with its visual display of lightning & the massive front of clouds.  Or to look into the night sky & see the broad expanse of the universe stretching out in front of us?  The heavens are filled with phenomena like supernovas & nebulas that simply boggle the mind in their size.  For comparison, Planet Earth is approx. 12,700 km in diameter – Jupiter is 142,900 km – the Sun is 1,392,000 km – Betelgeuse is one of the largest stars visible to the naked eye & is found in Orion…it’s over 1.3 billion km – the Helix nebula [pic] is 3 light years across…and the list just goes on.  Our own galaxy (the Milky Way) is estimated to be 120,000 light years across.  To look at all of these massive phenomena is to look at the handiwork of God Himself.
  • What’s the result of all of this?  Creation is clear evidence of a Creator.  To contrast the massive size of the universe with all of its billions of stars with the profound intricacies of the workings of the human body is absolutely astounding.  This universe is not the result of an accident of chance – it’s firm, ever-present evidence of a Creator God.  Ignorance of God is purely an act of the will.  Someone has to consciously make the decision to forbid the existence of God in their mind not to see the evidence of God all around us, because the heavens proclaim it clearly. … Paul wrote about this in the 1st chapter of Romans.  Romans 1:18–21, "(18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (21) because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." []

2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.

  • The testimony of creation never stops.  Creation speaks of God on a daily basis.  Every day the sun comes up and we can witness the natural phenomena here on earth.  Every night the stars come out & we can witness the glory of God in the heavens.  God has given us an entire universe to discover, and we can see His fingerprints at every turn.  Whether it’s the fact that our planet is not only located at exactly the right distance from the sun in order to maintain a temperature range for life, but also located at exactly the right spot in our galaxy in order to gaze out into the broader universe – or it’s the fact that the more we look inward at the minute instructions of the DNA strand, scientists cannot escape the evidence left by our Designer – the more we look into creation, the more we hear its testimony & are left with the knowledge of God.

3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.

  • The testimony of creation is not limited.  There’s no place we can go where we can escape it.
  • Other translations make the contrast between vss. 2-3 a bit more distinct.  NASB, “Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard.”  Vs. 2 says there is speech; vs. 3 says there is not…which is it?  It’s both.  Creation has a definite testimony that is evident to every man, woman, and child on the planet.  Yet at the same time, there is not literal speech being spoken.  If every human were silent about the praise of God, it seems that the rocks themselves would cry out, but for now their testimony is simply their presence.  A rock exists because there is a Rock-maker.  The intricacies of the simple single-celled creature did not randomly come together by chance; it was designed & created by God.  To ignore that evidence is to simply close our mind to creation’s “silent speech.”

4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world.

  • Because the testimony of creation is unceasing & unlimited, it’s gone to everywhere & everyone.  ALL have heard; mankind is left without excuse.  This ought to be an extremely sobering thought.  There are many who might claim that “ignorance is bliss” – they want to fall back on the excuse of: “I just didn’t see enough evidence that God existed, so how could God punish me for something that wasn’t my fault?”  Yet God doesn’t leave that excuse to anyone.  The evidence IS there & it’s plain & it’s gone out to the end of the world.  That we don’t like where the evidence leads is not an excuse for us not to pay attention to it.  The evidence of creation speaks of an omnipotent perfect Creator, and it only follows that we will have to answer to Him on the Day of Judgment.  Part of the testimony of creation is to help us know our need to be ready on that Day.

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. 6 Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

  • David gives an example of the testimony of creation with the sun.  The daily patterns of the sun in the sky show the sun not to be a god that is to be worshipped (as it has been throughout the ages by various groups), but rather a part of creation itself that gives glory unto God.
  • Question: is David being literal here?  The sun is not literally a bridegroom nor a strong man.  This is figurative language that describes what the sun is like in our eyes.  Yet the sun is literally subservient to God – God is the one that put the sun in its place & arranged the order of the solar system.
  • Objection: “The Bible is scientifically wrong!  The sun doesn’t run a circuit; the earth revolves around the sun!”  True, the earth does orbit the sun, but David is not writing a scientific treatise about astronomy.  He’s already used figurative language in describing how the sun works – he simply continues the figurative language in describing how the sun travels across the sky.  Did David understand the realities of the earth orbiting the sun?  Not likely – but obviously God does.  The fact God gave David figurative language does not meant that God was wrong; it just means God gave figurative language.  (By the way, we use exactly the same language today: “sunrise & sunset.”)
  • What’s the point?  The sun as a part of creation testifies to the glory of God because it works exactly as God created it to work.
  • Special revelation…the testimony of Scripture (vss. 7-11)

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;

  • 6 statements about the word of God.  All describe God’s word as the special revelation given by the Covenant-Keeping God & show the results of how God’s work in a person’s life. … The bottom line in all of it is that God’s word is good & God’s word brings results.
    • With all of these descriptions, we’ll take them one-by-one & see their results.
  • The word of God is His law.  “Law” is literally “Torah” in Hebrew.  We often think of the Law being only the 10 Commandments – but in reality, David is summarizing the entire written revelation of God as being the “Law”…the fullness of what God had given at the time concerning Himself.
  • The law is perfect.  Complete & without fault or blemish.  The Bible is absolutely perfect for everything we need to know about God & to live as His people.  It’s given by inspiration of God & fully equips us for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17).  When we need to know about God, we don’t need to rely on the opinions of men – we’ve been given God’s own law which shows Him in His fullness (especially as Jesus is made plain in the NT).  It’s perfect!
  • The law converts.  Other translations might say “restore,” but either way the thought is similar.  For the man or woman completely apart from God, they look at the Law & the Law convicts them of their sin & shows them their Savior – bringing them to conversion by faith.  For the man or woman who has fallen away from God, the word of God does exactly the same thing as the Holy Spirit uses it to convict us & cut us to the heart in discipline, and then brings us to a place of restoration.  The word of God (the Law) is absolutely instrumental in this process!
    • This is the very purpose of the law of God!  The law is SUPPOSED to convert us & bring us to Christ.  Galatians 3:24–25, "(24) Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (25) But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." []
    • There are some who believe that Christians ought to stay away from the word of God when witnessing to others – that when we bring up the Bible, it presents an obstacle from someone else listening to our arguments.  The Bible tells us to do exactly the opposite.  We’re supposed to use the Law in evangelism, because the written word of God is the very thing that prepares someone’s heart to encounter the living Word of God, Christ Jesus.

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

  • The word of God is His testimony.  The whole of creation testifies of a Creator, but the Scripture does as well.  God’s word testifies of Himself.  If we want to learn of God, we need look no further than the pages of Scripture.  In the Bible, we see the Lord Jesus Christ fully revealed as God in the flesh, and we see a clear testimony of God’s character & work & love & grace.
  • God’s testimony is sure.  Firm, faithful.  We can trust the Bible!  It is without error, and completely trustworthy in every respect.  We can truly build our lives upon the words of the Scripture.
  • God’s testimony makes the simple wise.  How true!  God did not choose the wise of the age to whom to reveal Himself, but Jesus revealed Himself to babes (Luke 10:21) – we may not be wise according to the flesh, but God chose the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise (1 Cor 1:27).  We who put our simple faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ have received the wisdom of God!

8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

  • The words of God are the statutes of God.  “Statutes” is more of a legal term – God’s word gives us the law & precept for how to live.  David is not preaching legalism, but at the same time we’d be foolish to ignore the fact that God’s word DOES in fact tell us how to live. 
  •  The statutes are right.  Straight, upright.  We will never go wrong following the statutes of the word of God.  Obviously the OT statutes that governed the nation of Israel do not apply to us today (mixed fibers, etc.), but where the Bible gives us statutes, we ought to follow them.  And when we do so, we’ll find that they are straight.  God doesn’t give us rules in order to “rule out” our fun; He gives us rules to protect us & to provide for us.
  • God’s statutes cause us to rejoice.  Because God protects us through His statutes, we can rejoice.  As we live according to the Scriptures, we find that we’re living as God has called us to live & that causes us to find our joy in Him.

The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

  • The word of God is His commandment.  Not only do we have rules for living, we have the sheer commandment of God.  Our Lord & Master has commanded us to do certain things, and we are obligated to do them.  How are His commandments summarized?  To love God & love one another.
  • His commandment is pure.  Like a cool glass of spring water, God’s commandments are absolutely clear & pure.  God never commands us to sin, but rather commands us to reflect His purity.  We are to be holy as He is holy (1 Pet 1:16).
  • His commandment gives light.  As we walk in His holiness by loving God & our neighbors, we find our eyes enlightened.  We walk in unfettered fellowship with our Lord & King, and we can see Him clearly.

9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;

  • The word of God is His fear.  Question: can we really think of “fear” as being a description of the word of God?  When we take the verse contextually, there’s really no other interpretation we can give it.  Every other parallel thought attributes it to the word of God, so we need to do the same thing in this case.  How does God’s word bring about the fear of God?  Because it tells us of GOD!  The sum of the commandments & testimony (etc.) of God bring us to the fear of God.  There simply is no other response!
  • The fear of God is clean.  This is similar to the idea of purity – to fear the Lord God correctly through the word of God is simply the pure & right response.
  • The fear of God endures.  The holy reverent fear that we give God will last through eternity.  What an amazing thought!  We learn to worship God rightly now (through the word of God), and what we learn here will last for forever.  How many other skills will endure forever?  Computer skills fade as soon as the new versions are released – it’s tough to imagine heaven needing our skills of power tools & whatnot – but to worship in the righteous fear of God?  THAT will always endure.

The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

  • The words of God are His judgments.  God Himself is our final authority & we know what God’s judgments are by looking into the words of the Bible.  What God says is God’s judgment & His judgments are revealed in the Scripture.
  • His judgments are true & righteous.  They are right & they will stand.  When God judges those outside of Christ, it is the right & just judgment.  As God shows His grace towards those of us in Christ, it is also right & just – because the righteous punishment has already been put on Jesus.
  • His judgments are to be desired. See vs. 10…

10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

  • How much is God’s word to be desired?  As a treasure of gold!  God’s word is rich & valuable!  The proverbs declare that the wisdom of God is better than silver, gold, and rubies – nothing that we desire can compare with it. (Pro 3:14-15)
  • God’s word is also sweet & pleasurable.  Honey & the honeycomb… As David writes elsewhere, “Taste & see that the Lord is good, blessed are those who put their trust in Him.” (Ps 34:8)
  • Do you value the word of God?  Is it something that you desire & treasure?  Is it something that you find to be sweet?  The man or woman who loves the word of God is a man or woman who loves God Himself.  How so?  Because the word of God reveals the character and person of God.  To learn the Bible is to learn of our Lord & King. There’s hardly any better use of our time than for a Christian to learn more of Christ!

11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

  • God’s word brings warning & reward.  Of course, as much as the Scripture brings joy, it can also bring rebuke, discipline, and correction.  We ought to welcome the warnings as much as the comforts.  To keep/heed the warnings of God is to continue to obey His voice & in doing so, we will find “great reward.
  • Prayer to apply revelation (vss. 12-14)

12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.

  • Gods’ word reveals to us our sin.  We know God’s word is truth (John 17:17) – it’s a two-edged sword that discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart (Heb 4:12).  Where we might not even be aware of our sin, God’s word can reveal it to us.  That was even David’s own prayer for himself: “see if there is any wicked way in me & lead me in the way everlasting,” (Ps 139:24).  Even if we don’t yet understand our own errors, God does, and God can reveal it to us through His word.
  • What do we do when we are convicted?  Ask God for cleansing! (1 John 1:9)

13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

  • We don’t only need cleansing from past sin; we need protection from falling into present & future sin.  David’s 1st prayer is for cleansing; his 2nd prayer is that God would use the Scripture to guard David’s heart.
  • What happens when we leave our hearts unguarded?  Sin can rule over us.  It happened to Cain (Gen 4:7)…  It happened to Peter (Lk 22:31)…  It can happen to us, too.
  • Yet when God does guard us through His word, we can walk in blamelessness & innocence!

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

  • The final prayer & desire of David: to be pleasing to God on the inside & outside.  He wants his internal thoughts & external words to be pleasing in the sight of God. 
  • How does this relate to the word of God?  David is basically praying, “Let my meditation reflect your revelation.”  The more we get the word of God into our hearts & mind, the more our minds & hearts will reflect the word of God.  It transforms us…
  • Notice the basis for David’s prayer.  David cannot be transformed simply by being a good Bible student; the transformation in David’s life is foundationally based in his relationship with God.  God is David’s:
    • LORD: The covenant keeping personal God.  God is not simply a concept in David’s mind; the LORD is his God – real, alive, and active.
    • Strength: Or, a rock.  God is David’s solid foundation & rock of refuge.
    • Redeemer: God is David’s “goel” – his kinsman-redeemer.  Like Boaz redeemed Ruth & Naomi from poverty back into their inheritance, so Yahweh God redeemed David from the sheepfold (and numerous occasions of death) to grant him an everlasting inheritance.
    • Is this who Jesus is to you?  Is He the Covenant-keeping God – your Rock – your Redeemer?  The way we answer that question is the very foundation for every single promise we find in the word of God!

 

Psalm 20 (NKJV) – A prayer of trust in God
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

  • Although there’s no specific subject given in the title, some scholars believe that Ps 20 was written for liturgical use by the king to recite over the army prior to going out into battle.  (Which would not be unreasonable, based on the text of the psalm.)  The idea is that the king would seek the Lord’s face before marching out, and helping set the example over his people by declaring his trust in God.  With this is mind, it’s interesting to look at this psalm in the light of our spiritual battles – or even better, in light of the victory that Jesus won over Satan at the cross & resurrection & will later win in the final battle at Armageddon.  (Spurgeon) “It needs but a moment’s reflection to perceive that this hymn of prayer is prophetical of our Lord Jesus, and is the cry of the ancient church on behalf of her Lord, as she sees him in vision enduring a great fight of afflictions on her behalf. The militant people of God, with the great Captain of salvation at their head, may still in earnest plead that the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in his hand.”
  • 6 Blessings/Prayers of trust (vss. 1-5).

1 May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you; 2 May He send you help from the sanctuary, And strengthen you out of Zion; 3 May He remember all your offerings, And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah 4 May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfill all your purpose.

  • Begins with a list of blessings – based in the covenant relationship with God (“LORD”).  If this was a liturgical prayer, the wording makes a lot of sense as David (or any following king) would recite this over the army as a blessing prior to battle.
  • Notice all of the actions that God takes on behalf who trust Him.
    • God answers: our prayers are not in vain – we have an audience with God through the work of Jesus Christ & God WILL answer those who belong to Him.
    • God defends: By His very name (representative of His person), God will defend His own.  What assurance!  When the Lord is our defense, who should we fear?  What are the attacks of Satan compared to the defense of Almighty God?
      • This is the God of Jacob.  Another reference to His covenant promises.
    • God helps.  Technically, God sends help.  Whether God helps directly by the word of His mouth, empowers us through the Holy Spirit, or sends other believers to help, or perhaps even sends angels that are unseen, we can be assured that our God will help us.
    • God strengthens:  When we are weak, that is when God shows Himself to be strong.  Thus like Paul, we can even boast in our weaknesses, knowing that’s when we’re going to see the power of God at work. (2 Cor 12:9)
    • God remembers: God does not forget our offerings of sacrifice, nor does He forget His people overall.  Even when it seems like God is not acting, we can be assured that God is at work.
    • God accepts:  David was speaking directly about sacrifices offered unto God, but because of Christ Jesus, we can be assured God will accept the living sacrifices of our lives (Rom 12:1-2), given unto Him for His glory.  Speaks of our assured relationship in Christ.  God does not turn away from us; He will accept the sacrifice given from a heart that is submitted to Christ Jesus.
    • God grants: God is the one who answers prayers & He grants the heart’s desire of His people – when our hearts desire is in line with His will.
    • God fulfills: God will accomplish with His people that which He desires for us.  The one who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.
  • We see how this applies to us – does it apply to Christ?  Absolutely!  Just look at the victorious resurrection.  God answered, defended, helped Jesus – in every way.  God accepted the sacrifice of Christ & granted Jesus the request of His redeemed people.  Praise God for this fulfillment in Christ!

5 We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

  • What do all of those blessings/actions point to?  The salvation & deliverance of God!  David looked forward to the salvation that God would provide during the battle.  We look to our salvation that God has already provided in Christ.  The very word “salvation” is “yeshua” = Jesus.
  • We can rejoice in God’s salvation!  Our banner (flag/standard) is planted in the cross of Christ.  There’s nowhere else we can go…He is the source for all of God’s action on our behalf!
  • The summary petition: May God (the covenant LORD) fulfill it all.  Perhaps this was the response of the congregation back to David – perhaps this is David’s own prayer for his congregation.  Either way, it sums up the previous blessings/petitions.
  • Proclamation of trust (vss. 6-8).

6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.

  • It’s not merely a prayer of blessing for someone else; David knows this for himself.  There’s not a doubt in his mind that God is worthy of trust.
  • God saves His anointed.  Contextually, the “anointed” is God’s chosen king.  When Saul was king, David refused to raise his hand against him in battle because David understood that Saul was the Lord’s anointed. (1 Sam 26:9)  Thus here, when David refers to the anointed of God, he’s referring to himself.  He knows that God will be faithful to His covenant promises to preserve David’s family & to give him an everlasting kingdom.  Thus David has complete confidence to step out in faith for what the Lord had given him to do.  He had no reason to fear in battle, because he had the promise of God on his side backing him.
    • Yet beyond this, we need to look at the ultimate anointed one of God: the Lord Jesus Christ!  “Anointed” = “Mashiyach” = “Messiah.”
  • God answers from heaven & shows Himself strong on the Messiah’s behalf.  David knew that God would provide for him & speaks in unwavering faith on the matter.  Yet it also applies to Christ in both His 1st & 2nd comings.  Truly God did save Christ & answer Him when Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning.  And yet again when Jesus returns in power & victory, God will show Himself strong on the day of the battle of Armageddon.

7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God. 8 They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright.

  • What a contrast!  The world may trust in earthly help, but God’s people can trust in Divine Help!  It wasn’t by their own strength that they would endure the battle; it was by the Lord’s strength.  Don’t forget the fact that David was writing this.  David was an accomplished warrior – if anyone thought he could have trusted his own skill & might, David could.  Yet he knew he was absolutely dependent upon the name of the LORD.  It wasn’t David’s skill that would bring the victory; it was God.
  • David wasn’t the first to make the choice between the world & God.  Reminiscent of Joshua’s challenge to the Hebrews.  Joshua 24:14–15, "(14) “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! (15) And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” " []
  • Make the choice!  Who do you trust?
  • Closing prayer (vs. 9)

9 Save, LORD! May the King answer us when we call.

  • Some think this could be another congregational response – asking God to save their king in battle.  Yet if David is the one speaking, who is David referring to as the King?  The LORD – the King of kings.  David’s only hope is trusting in the salvation of God.

Conclusion:
The testimony of God (especially through His word) transforms us as we submit ourselves to Him.  How do we submit ourselves?  By trusting Him more than life!  Where is your trust?

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Comments
  1. Through the work of the Gideons and others not only has God whole creation silently and not so silently spoken to every earth dweller, but scripture is now reaching almost every corner of the globe so that they are very without any excuse for rejecting His call.

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