Loving God, we give You thanks that we are able to meet with You as we do. And as we do so we now ask that You would help us to set aside all that is not of You and allow Your Spirit to move over us and draw us close to You. And all this we ask in Jesus name…Amen.
Read Psalm 19:1-10
When we first look at Psalm 19 we might be mistaken for thinking that we actually have two Psalms here, joined together. The first half of the Psalm seems to focus very much on God’s creation and the latter half on the laws and commandments of God. And maybe we are left thinking, what’s going on here? What’s the connection? What is it that the Psalmist is trying to say to us – and what are we meant to take from this?
Looking at the first six verses we have this image of the Psalmist looking up at the vastness of the heavens and being overawed by the sheer beauty and majesty of it all – and maybe that’s something that many of us can identify with, I know I can.
But maybe for some sitting on a cliff top looking out to the sea, especially on a stormy day, is what fills them with awe and wonder. For others it might be looking at snow-capped mountain tops and for others still it might simply be walking through a beautiful garden full of life and colour.
There are so many things in God’s creation that could cause us to just stop and marvel at the beauty and majesty of what God has done. And if we’re honest we might find it difficult to convey to others what it is about such sights that we find so beautiful and majestic. The only answer we might be able to give is just look – see for yourselves – and in a sense maybe that is what the Psalmist is saying here.
The heavens use no speech, no sound is heard from them, yet their voice goes out into all the earth. The sheer beauty and majesty of the heavens speak for themselves, no-one needs say anything. So it is with the view from a cliff top, the sight of snow-capped peaks and even our own back gardens full of life. No words are necessary, the awesomeness of God’s creation in all of these things speak for themselves.
However, if it is the case that all this beauty and majesty does indeed have its source in the one true living God, is it not also the case that it is this same God who now holds all things in place and sustains all of this. And where do we fit into all of this, what does this mean in terms of any relationship that we have with God.
When we look at the Psalm again from this perspective we can perhaps see that the Psalmist saw the whole of the universe as God’s well-ordered society. But more than that, he believed that when God created it, God ‘wrote’ into its structure certain natural and moral laws for the well-being of his children.
The natural order fills him with wonder and awe, as it does with so many people who marvel at the beauty, the vastness and the steadfast order of the created universe. But what about the laws which are the basis of its continued existence, how often do we stop to think of them. Laws like the laws of physics, time and relativity discovered by people like Newton and Einstein.
These laws not only sustain the natural world as we know it, they also enable us to make advances in science and technology for the good of the human race and for the benefit of this world. However, whilst people like Newton and Einstein and others may have discovered them, we as human beings did not create these laws – God created them. They were in existence before we came in to being and we must live within them in order to survive within God’s creation. However, the Psalmist doesn’t stop there because alongside this natural order of things there is also an order for our lives.
The people of Israel founded their way of life on the laws and commandments given to Moses by God – The Torah – and the Psalmist goes on to speak about these next. The law is perfect, pure and righteous. It educates, enlightens and it endures. However, more than this, the Psalmist tells us, it gives joy to our heart. How can this be?
God actually gave his law as an expression of His love and the encapsulation of this law in the Ten Commandments makes this clear, for these laws demonstrate how to love God and neighbour properly. And if we desire the law in the way the Psalmist describes, that passion for what is right and good changes our lives. It aligns us with Gods way and God’s love and we take our place in God’s created order as He ordained.
However, we now have a new way to God and like the Torah was intended to do, Jesus new law of love can transform our hearts. And if we desire this more than anything, we not only discover God’s way and God’s love, we discover that God begins to dwell in our hearts and souls.
Through His Son and by His Spirit, God writes the law of love on our hearts – and this is only the beginning. Such is his love for us that our Lord and Saviour affirms the goodness of God’s creation in every one of us, by pouring his gifts upon us in affirmation of our discipleship.
So alongside the natural order of God’s creation, the Psalmist saw a moral order, governed by God given laws and commandments, which to him, not only seemed just as marvellous as the laws of nature, but also, in their own way, declared the glory and majesty of God.
Indeed this reverent spirit was shared by the German philosopher, Emmanuel Kant who said that two things filled him with awe and wonder. The starry heavens above…and the moral law within…both of which created and set in place by God Himself.
The question is, do we share this view. And can we too join with the Psalmist in knowing the joy of the Lord in our hearts – I certainly hope so….
Loving God, we give You thanks for the richness of this time of year, for the colour and beauty of life in all that we see and experience each day. We come to You because we know that You are always with us and Your love for us is consistent, even when we wander from the path you have set before us.
The whole of creation is in the palm of Your hands and we thank You for that same sustaining power in our lives every day. But still today we think of those who have yet to know Your love for themselves and ask that You might use even us to make that love known wherever and whenever we can. We think of those weighed down by concern and fear, those who struggle with their faith and those who are suffering in some way.
Loving God, look to them as only You can and give to them whatever they need most in their lives at this time, encompassed in Your gracious, loving care, thinking especially of those in our own communities. Be also with all in Your Church here in Scotland at this time. After this weekend’s General Assembly may we move forward in faith to the glory of Your name, seeking to spread Your Word far and wide. So be with us, we pray, as we continue through this coming week, help us to share that love in all we say and do. And all this we ask in Jesus name…Amen.