Through the Old Testament in a Year

Today's Reading – Psalm 19 – The word of the Lord

"The heavens declare thy glory, Lord, in every star thy wisdom shines; but when our eyes behold thy Word, we read thy Name in fairer lines."

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Psalm 19 declares that God reveals his character to us through the two great books he has written for our learning, the Book of Nature (or Creation) and the Book of Scripture.

The universe around us displays God's glory, greatness and power, from the immensity of space with all its stars and galaxies to the intricacy of the smallest sea creatures and on to the wonder of the atoms from which all things are made. Creation speaks of the greatness of its Creator and of the wisdom and inexhaustible knowledge of him who made it all and delights in it all.

But in a fallen world we easily come to mistaken conclusions about God. We see poverty, disease, pain and death and we ask, "Does God see and care?" The world around us is twisted out of shape and our fallen reading of it is blurred and distorted. The universe is not self-interpreting.

That is why God has revealed himself in the Scriptures. He has spoken to us that he might make himself known. As Isaac Watts put it in quaint English some three centuries ago:

The heavens declare thy glory, Lord,
in ev'ry star thy wisdom shines;
but when our eyes behold thy Word,
we read thy Name in fairer lines.

The rolling sun, the changing light,
and nights and days thy pow'r confess;
but the blest volume thou hast writ
reveals thy justice and thy grace…

John Calvin spoke of the way in which we need the spectacles of Scripture to see the world in right perspective. It is when we read the world through the eyes of this book that we see God's glory and grace displayed throughout creation and see all that we were made to be.

In the Scriptures we have treasures more valuable than gold and sweeter than honey. We have God's law which is a reflection of his own holy character. But this serves only to condemn our unholy characters and would drive us to despair. Isaac Watts rewrote the metrical psalms, the hymns sung by Christians in his day, so that they went beyond their Old Testament context to reflect the additional revelation that has come to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. So his hymn continues:

Thy noblest wonders here we view
in souls renewed and sins forgiv'n;
Lord, cleanse my sins, my soul renew,
and make Thy Word my guide to heav'n.

We rejoice that God has done more than warn of the consequences of straying from his commandment, he has provided us with a Saviour through whom all our transgressions are forgiven. Jesus has redeemed us through his shed blood and has brought us back into fellowship with God our Creator. He is rock on which we stand secure.

But grace does not nullify the demands of God's holy law, rather it enables us to fulfil the righteous requirements of the law through the power of the Spirit of the risen Christ within us. So we echo the words of the psalmist, "Keep your servant … from wilful sins; may they not rule over me."

Father God, give me eyes to see your glory revealed through this world that you have made and especially in people whom you have created in your own image. May I always take great delight in your word and especially in the Lord Jesus Christ, the word incarnate. Help me always to follow him and to live by his power. "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart always be pleasing in your sight, Lord my Rock and my Redeemer."

Peter Misselbrook