Glory Revealed | Psalm 19
Andy Lindgren | October 1, 2017
Heavenly Father, we are just so thankful, Lord, for this day you’ve given us, the opportunity to gather together as your people to worship you, Lord, to hear lifegiving truth from your word. We pray now that you would enlighten the eyes of our hearts, Lord, to the glory that is in your word, and may we go forth changed as we apply this truth to our lives in the power of your spirit.
I pray that you would be with Brian today as he ministers, Lord. We’re so thankful for the gift he is to our church body here; I just pray blessing upon him, Lord, anointing as he teaches and preaches, and that he would feel your presence with him.
In the name of Jesus we ask these things, Amen.
C.S. Lewis tells a story. When he was a boy, one day his brother came into his bedroom and he had this old biscuit tin, and in this old biscuit tin his brother had put pieces of moss, pieces of flowers, and pieces of twigs. What he had done is he had made a toy garden, or a toy forest.
C.S. Lewis said that that little toy garden his brother made, it didn’t really make a big impact to him at the time, but later on in his life it became very important in his memory. It became one of those touchstone memories of his childhood, this little toy forest in a biscuit tin. He said for the rest of his life whenever he imagined paradise there was always a little bit of that biscuit tin in it.
The closest thing that I might think to compare to that was what I think was the first movie I saw in theaters when I was a kid. I was six years old, the year was 1991, and it was the Disney animated, what is now classic, “Beauty and the Beast.” What I remember most striking me about that film wasn’t so much the plot, which I don’t think I really even understood that much at the time, but it was the images of nature that were portrayed in the film.
I would probably have to say that my conception of paradise will always contain pieces of those frames I saw as a child, the scene in the forest and the scene of the mountains with the lake running through it.
If we’re honest, we’ve all had powerful encounters with the mysterious beauty found in nature, nature having an impact on us, many of us probably even before we became Christians or knew the Lord. Today we’re going to look at a psalm that deals somewhat with an answer to that question. Why does nature have such an effect on us? We find an answer in Psalm 19, which we’re going to read now. Psalm 19.
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
“The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
“Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
This is God’s word.
Now the structure of this psalm, verses one through six we have God’s general revelation in the skies, verses seven through 11 we have God’s special revelation in [his word], and in 12 through 14 we have the response and prayer of David, the psalmist.
So we’re going to look at this psalm in three movements, if you will:
I. God’s Glory Revealed in His Creation
II. God’s Glory Revealed in His Word
III. The Hope of Glory
I. God’s Glory Revealed in His Creation
First, God’s glory revealed in his creation. One of the first things we find here is that the skies have something to say. They declare and proclaim, they pour out speech and reveal knowledge through all the earth and to the end of the world. They speak constantly, they speak everywhere, they speak to everyone. They speak of God’s glory. The art speaks of the artist.
In verse one we find, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” David makes a connection here between God’s glory and what he has made, and in this psalm David uses the example of the sun in verses four through six and, by implication, the moon and the stars in verse two.
One of the central truths about God that we find in Scripture is that he created everything. In the book of Revelation when John has his unveiling, the apocalyptic unveiling, the revealing of what’s going on behind the scenes, he sees the heavenly beings worshipping God, and what they’re doing is they’re connecting God’s status as Creator with his deserving the worship of his creation. In Revelation 4:11 we read, “They cast down their crowns before the throne,” these beings in heaven, “saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’”
And then we have an even somewhat puzzling statement in chapter six of Isaiah, when Isaiah has his vision of God’s glory unveiled and revealed. He’s hearing these heavenly creatures; they’re flying around God’s throne and they’re worshipping him, and one of the things they’re talking about is how the earth is full of his glory.
Now there, in God’s manifest presence, full-on, full-force, he’s right there, but they’re talking about the earth, they’re talking about this thing he made. There’s a connection between what God made and his glory.
Another truth we find is that God created out of an overflow of his goodness. Jonathan Edwards famously wrote that God’s glory was the very reason that the universe itself exists. This is fleshed out more in other Scripture, but it’s implied somewhat in verse one: “Day to day pours forth speech.” We get this image of flow, an overflow of a fountain, an abundance. Creation is the result of the overflow, not deficiency, of the most glorious being in existence. And that creation can’t stop talking about him, doing it both day and night.
Another truth we find is that his creation reveals his nature. J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, used to say that humans are God’s “sub-creators.” God is the main creator, and we are sub-creators. We create as well. We have a desire to create, and looking at examples of sub-creators, which we’re going to a couple times in the moments ahead, that gives us somewhat of a glimpse into God being Creator, broken and imperfect as we are.
Vincent van Gogh once put it like this: he said, “I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say, ‘He feels deeply; he feels tenderly.’” Now even as a flawed sub-creator, and van Gogh was full of flaws, to be sure, he wanted people to know something about what was inside of him through what he was making, through what he was creating.
And I think the same thing can be said of God. Creation sings that it has a maker, and what’s inside of him is divine; his nature is divine. God wanted to express himself, and he created a universe, and then he created image-bearers to express themselves too. God is also the all-wise designer of all that was made. These amazing heavenly bodies we see; we see the sun in the day and we see the moon and stars at night. The psalm tells us that these are this being’s handiwork, anthropomorphically, the work of his hands. Even though we know that everything was created by the word of the Lord sometimes Scripture talks about him actually forming it with his hands to get this illustration and this metaphor, bring it closer to home for us.
They communicate to us that he is incredibly wise. There’s design in the skies! These heavenly bodies were purposefully planned. One example would be the moon. The moon isn’t just a beautiful aesthetic wonder that we see in the night sky, although it’s that as well; it also has a purpose for our planet. The gravitational pull of the moon on earth helps stabilize the tilt of the earth’s axis. You know, we aren’t perpendicular like that; we’re actually on a tilt, the earth is. What that does, that helps actually regulate our climate. Mars doesn’t have a moon like we do with similar size and mass and distance away, therefore Mars doesn’t have a very stable axis; it wobbles quite a bit. Our axis staying just what it is at just that angle in our relation to the light of the sun, that’s what gives us our seasons.
Or another example would be on August 21st of this year we experienced, in the United States, a solar eclipse. We were in, parts of the United States were actually in the path of totality, right there, full-on, the solar eclipse, when the moon passes in between the sun and the earth.
Now something interesting about this image...have you ever wondered why, in an eclipse, the moon perfectly covers up the sun? I mean, think about science class, right? The sun’s like this, you know, and the moon’s like this. Astronomers call it an amazing astronomical coincidence. They think it’s amazing too, but of course many of them, not being Christians, some not even being theists, say it’s a coincidence. Well, the reason is because even though the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, it also just happens to be 400 times further away. Henceforth, their apparent diameters line up perfectly during an eclipse. You can only get an image like this on earth; there’s no other planet in our solar system where an eclipse with a different heavenly body happens like that, where you would see it cover up the sun perfectly.
“Someone” is showing off the universe to us. God’s like a filmmaker here, lining up the perfect shot, getting it just right, wanting to bring us, the viewers, pleasure; wanting to stir feelings of beauty and wonder in us. What sort of being made this up and had the power to create it and has the power to sustain it and keep it going?
Paul observes about that in Romans 1:19-20, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
God is also the joyful creator of all that was made. I like the way Tim Keller puts it: “God rejoiced everything into existence.” The sun is one example David takes from creation in his poetic language here, and he portrays the sun, an inanimate object, as joyfully obeying its creator. He writes, “In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving its chamber and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.”
So the sun is like a groom here, its wedding day, and he’s joyfully leaving his chamber very purposefully, with his face beaming, to go retrieve his bride. Or the sun here is also like a strong man joyfully running the course laid out for him.
God’s artwork is joyful because he himself is joyful. Once again, in Psalm 104, verse 31, there’s a connection made between God’s glory and his works. It says in that verse, “May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works.” The sun runs its course with joy, not with resentment or weariness or grudgingly. The sun loves its job, and as sub-creators ourselves we understand the joy of creating.
One of my favorite examples of this would be with the songwriter-composer-musician Brian Wilson. Now, Brian was another creator who is very broken in many ways, but I think there’s a useful example here from the heighth of his creativity, which would have been 1965, 1966, a little bit of 1967 as well. Brian Wilson was the creative force behind the band “The Beach Boys,” and in the early ’60s they had a string of hits, very popular. They were the biggest band in the United States for awhile, until the Beatles came over.
Brian was unique, because he not only wrote most of the songs and sang on them, he also produced them in the studio. He arranged the instruments, he was behind the controlboard, he was an engineer. And after about three years of pop hits he became just kind of full of angst as an artist, and he said, “You know, we’re writing these songs and they’re kind of commercial products, and the lyrics are really shallow. I want to go deeper. I really want to express myself with my art.”
So his music increasingly, it happened a little at a time, it moved away from rock and roll and it became very heavily influenced by jazz, and also he self-consciously started to throw Bach in there as well.
What happened is he quit touring with the band, and he had them tour, and he stayed at home and wrote and produced the music so he could focus on it better. What he did is he recruited this group of musicians in Los Angeles at the time that a lot of the other producers were using to help record the music. These musicians, after awhile word started to spread around town that a Brian Wilson session was the place to be. In fact, some of them, if they were double-booked, if they had already been booked for another gig, they would call up one of their other musician friends who played the same instrument and they’d say, “Hey, can you cover for me? I’ll actually pay you to cover for me, because I want to play at one of Brian’s sessions.”
They loved recording for him because, for one, he was very precise. He knew exactly what he wanted. They told these stories; he would walk into the studio, have just a few chords scribbled out on a sheet, and he had these really complex arrangements all in his head; he had it all planned out before he even went in.
A lot of other producers at the time would just have a really simple four, five-chord song, and they would rely on these session musicians to fill in the rest, make it more interesting. You know, “Can you do a guitar lick there? Can you make the bass line a little more melodic?” But Brian had all that in his head; he knew exactly what he wanted. He was very precise.
He was also a perfectionist. Even though he was mostly deaf in one ear, and he had the other ear covered with all that hair, as you can see, he could hear mistakes that most of the other players couldn’t. They would be going along and the take would be sounding phenomenal; all of a sudden Brian would stop the take, and they would look around and say, “Why did Brian stop the take?” He would point out someone missed their entrance, or they had turned their instrument just in such a way that the mic wasn’t picking it up as clearly as it was before. And the person sitting next to that other musician wouldn’t even realize it; they wouldn’t even hear it, but somehow Brian heard it.
They also liked recording for him because his complex harmonic arrangements were sometimes puzzling. There were certain sections that sounded almost wrong until the entire song was finished with the vocals added at the end. They liked kind of the suspense of that puzzle, seeing how it would all come together at the end.
It was very obvious when he was doing it that he really loved creating beauty. He wasn’t just doing this for money. A lot of times other producers would just treat these musicians like hired hands, churning out a commercial product. But Brian was different; he really loved it for the beauty of what he was doing.
He was also really happy to be doing it. They released some session excerpts of him working with the musicians in the studio. I almost like listening to those better than the songs themselves, because he’s just exuding joy and excitement as he’s getting the musicians just carefully placed, and he’s positioning the instruments with the microphones, and the joy he feels as he’s hearing that his vision is being executed.
This psalm gives us a glimpse into the back and forth between the creator and his inanimate creation, and it’s a joyful back and forth. It’s as if God said, “Okay, earth. Tilt, tilt, right there! Don’t move! Twenty-three and a half degrees. That’s it. That’s the axis I need. Okay, sun, you stay right here and you keep blazing, this exact distance away from earth, because you’re going to give them just enough heat and just enough cold if you stay right there. And the earth, with my image-bearers on it, it’s going to rotate on its axis, and they’re going to see you running through their sky day after day. And the moon over there, that’s going to help keep the earth tilted at just the right angle.
“And as the earth revolves and dances around you every 365 days, they change the angle of your tilt with the light hitting them it’s going to cause a changing of seasons, and the leaves are going to change in the fall. And when they’re over here, in springtime, then your light’s going to hit them at a different angle, and that’s going to make the leaves grow again and your light’s going to draw the leaves and the plants from the earth and it’s going to be beautiful.”
And unlike humanity, the sun wouldn’t trade its glorifying role in God’s universe for anything. The inanimate creation stays right where God placed it, and it’s doing right what he said, unlike us.
II. God’s Glory Revealed in His Word
Next we come to God’s glory revealed in his word. We find a better revelation; it’s special instead of just general. David abruptly drops the imagery in verse seven and jumps to admiring God’s law. David, as C.S. Lewis points out, is being a good poet here. He’s hoping we’ll catch the connection between the perfection of the sun’s course and heat, from which nothing can hide, and God’s perfect instruction. God’s law is to our spiritual landscape what the sun is to our physical landscape. God is speaking loud and clear through his creation that he is powerful and that he is divine, but we don’t hear it adequately, because we suppress that knowledge; we push it down, as Paul writes in Romans one.
Now theologians define this difference as general revelation in nature and special revelation in Scripture. So since we sinfully suppress that glorious revelation of God in his world, he mercifully spells it out for us in his word.
Derek Kidner helps to point out what the psalm says God specifies for us, and what it’s like and what it does to us. First, what he specifies for us in his word: his law, his revealed will to us, his teaching, his instructions, his testimony, God’s truth declared through his covenant; his precepts, and his commandments. There are some synonyms in here. God’s exactness and his authority with which he speaks to us. His rules are there. The judicial decisions he’s made when applying his perfect standard to our various situations.
What is this special revelation like? It’s perfect. It cannot be improved upon. It’s sure, substantiated, established. It’s right, it’s morally straight, it’s pure, with no imperfections, like silver refined; it’s clean, it’s flawless, it’s true, dependable, and trustworthy.
Last of all, what does it do to us? Well, it revives the soul, bringing spiritual life. It makes wise the simple; it grants us wisdom. It brings joy to the heart, it gives delight, and it enlightens the eyes and makes us alert and discerning; gives us vitality.
But we also find here a more intimate revelation. We find a name. You see, the special written revelation of Scripture does what the general revelation in nature doesn’t do; it gives us God’s personal name. It gives us his character specified. You see the name Yahweh, translated “the LORD” in all caps in most English translations; that appears seven times after verse seven in this psalm, but it never appears in verses one through six, when it’s talking about God’s revelation in creation. God is only mentioned in verses one through six once, and it’s the generic name for the all-powerful creator. Nature tells us that God is there and that he’s powerful, but his word tells us who he is and how to live in a satisfying relationship with him.
God’s law is so sure and perfect because it’s his; it comes from him. As commentators often say, it is God himself who is the main character of the psalms. His revealed will to us is so valuable and sweet because it’s the teaching of the one who made us for himself. Getting God right. This fallen world and our fallen hearts causes us to get God wrong. Ancient idolaters, of course, thought the sun was to be worshipped. They looked up, they saw the sun God made, and they said, “Well, that’s a god; worship it!” But here in God’s special revelation we find out that the sun isn’t a god at all, but it’s one of God’s many works of art that joyfully serves him.
John Calvin reminds us that the sun is merely the instrument that God uses because he so wills, for with no more difficulty he might abandon it and act through himself. God could easily decide to toss the sun over his shoulder one day and provide us with all that all that light and heat through himself or through some other means. It’s a thing he made; it doesn’t deserve to be worshipped.
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion John Calvin talks about looking at the world through the spectacles, or the glasses, of Scripture to rightly interpret his general revelation.
One example of this would be Martin Luther. Martin Luther; many of us know the story. Before he was entrenched in Scripture, like he would be later on in his life, he was almost struck by lightning. He concluded something about God from it and he cried out to Saint Anne, not Christ, for mercy. He was terrified of Christ, the judge. Something happened in nature; he interpreted it wrongly because he wasn’t looking at nature through the glasses of Scripture. That’s why he was crying out to Saint Anne for mercy instead of Christ. But after having his world transformed by the word of God, Luther would later write of seeing the gospel written on every leaf.
The deeper we are in the word the more we’ll see the shining glory of God in what he’s made. In his Institutes Calvin can’t stop himself from giving an example of God’s glory in creation, fearing that it would swell the sides of his volume beyond on reason. I feel his pain a little bit there, when I was just putting this message together; there were so many illustrations crowding around to be a part of it that I had to beat them off with a stick.
Now we find the delight of special revelation. To the one in a covenant relationship with the Lord, his revealed will is a delightful discovery. More to be desired than much fine gold, as David writes, and sweeter than drippings of the honeycomb.
C.S. Lewis wrote about such passages in the psalms that this is the language of a man ravished by moral beauty. His delight in the law is a delight in having touched firmness, like the pedestrian’s delight in feeling the hard road beneath his feet after a false shortcut has long entangled him in muddy fields.
To what degree do we know the delight of walking that firm road of Scripture? What road does this delightful special revelation of God have in our lives? I’m convinced that many spiritual shipwrecks in the lives of believers start with a very subtle, very gradual neglect of God’s word.
Herman Bavinck writes that “just as by general revelation God continually makes himself known to all human beings, so by Scripture he from day to day continues in a special way to reveal himself to all who live under the gospel.” Where are we at with our Bible reading? How much of it are we getting, and how often?
If you’re looking for a resource to help you walk that firm path more regularly, one suggestion I have would be Don Carson’s For the Love of God. It’s a wonderful Bible reading plan he came up with; it’s based off the M’Cheyne plan, and what it does is it takes you through the Old Testament once every year and the New Testament and Psalms twice a year. This is just one suggestion out of many different ways you can do it, but what I like about this plan is you’re being exposed to the totality of Scripture. You know, sometimes we pick our favorite books and kind of hang out there, go back to the same books year after year, and we’re not getting the full scope.
He also has very helpful writings to kind of trace biblical-theological themes throughout Scripture, and helping dealing with some of the difficult passages that you may be in. The Gospel Coalition’s actually made this resource free online as a PDF download, and not only that, but they also set it up if you sign up you can get it emailed to your inbox every day for free. So it’s definitely worth checking out if you don’t already have something like that; it’s a wonderful resource.
III. The Hope of Glory
Verse 11 transitions to David’s response: “Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” What do they warn us of, and why is it rewarding to keep them? That brings us to the hope of glory, where we find that sin is the glory-blocker. In verses 12 through 14 David, after praising God’s double revelation in nature and in the word, he’s now aware of the problem of sin and his need for purity.
He writes, “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults, keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
What does sin have to do with the revelation of God’s glory? Well, as Paul specifies in Romans three, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and a more literal way of translating that term, instead of “fall short,” would be, “All have sinned and lack the glory of God.” We lack it because we traded it away. Sin is a tragic attempt to find in the creation the glory that can only be found in the Creator.
God’s glory is a sin revealer. An accurate sight of God’s glory gives us a clear sight of our lack of glory. Isaiah six, after he saw the Lord’s glory manifested and cried out, “Woe is me!” His glory manifested raw intensity, he was causing his heavenly creatures to cry out, “Holy, holy, holy,” or it may be translated, “Separate, separate, separate,” or, “Different, different, different!” This made Isaiah shockingly aware of his uncleanliness and his very real need for atonement. Isaiah, growing up in Israel and among God’s people, would have had knowledge of God and his Scripture, but this was something he had never before encountered in his life. All of a sudden things were getting very real to him. “His glory is real, and so is my sin,” he thought.
Atonement is not just a box to be checked by someone who has had their sins laid bare by the light of God’s glory; it becomes a very real need. God’s glory, clearly manifested, reveals sin like the sun illuminating all the nooks and crannies in the desert.
So David asks, “Who can discern his errors?” We don’t discern them because we traded his glory away. But what help we find when we allow the blazing glory of his perfect word to expose our glory-blocking sin. There are people who live in mansions on the seaside that have seen more glorious sunsets than any of us ever will, and they’ll quietly slip away into an eternity apart from God, because they never exposed themselves to the sin-revealing light of God’s word. That’s why it’s so dangerous for us to seek spiritual experiences in nature alone, divorced from God’s special revelation in Scripture, because it’ll cause us to be blind to our sin.
The need of God’s creation, God’s people, is a sin destroyer. After God’s specific revelation in his word, David’s sin was exposed, and he longed to be innocent of both hidden, unintentional sins and obvious, presumptuous sins because he recognized them for what they are: an affront to the glorious creator of the universe. David realized the truth later spoken of in Acts 3:26, that God blesses us by turning us from our wickedness. God wants to make us, his image-bearers, joyful, and knowing him in all his glory is the only way we get there.
So this leaves David to conclude in verse 14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” He longed to be sinless both in what he said and in what he thought. The amazing thing is that he’s not the only one waiting for personal holiness. In Romans eight, Paul tells us that the rest of creation is waiting for our holiness too.
He writes in verse 19-25, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, for who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Creation is longing for God’s people to one day shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, as Jesus put it in Matthew’s gospel. The more we see God’s revelation in nature and in his word, and the more aware we become of his glory, the more we long for what’s inglorious in us to disappear as we feel that we’re out of joint with the rest of creation.
Earlier I talked about the recording process of Brian Wilson. And the most acclaimed project that came out of that period of time was the “Pet Sounds” album. The “Pet Sounds” album was released in mono, as most other songs were at that time. Without getting into a technical discussion, mono versus stereo, mono sounds kind of fuzzy and static-y and flat, and stereo’s much clearer, and you can hear it better.
About 30 years after the album was released they finally released the first true stereo mix of the album, and not only with the stereo mix, but they also released the instrumental tracks separated from the vocal tracks, so you could really hear the nuances in the music. It was really something for fans of that album to hear that, because you were hearing these familiar songs that you heard, but you were hearing them in a whole new way. You were hearing these little instrumental flourishes that had been buried by the vocals and by the mono mix. It just opened up a whole new level to what you thought you already knew; it was both familiar and yet wonderfully different.
That’s what’s going to happen to God’s people at the consummation. Creation is waiting for the stereo backing tracks of God’s people to come out, free from the fuzzy-sounding mono of imperfection and sin. It’s almost as if God’s driving the van of world history down the highway, and creation’s sitting in the back seat, and they’re saying, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Do your people shine like the sun in your kingdom yet? Can we finally stop hearing the mono mix; can we hear the stereo? Can we see it in all its clarity?” And as good Father, he says, “We’ll be there soon. Not yet,” and keeps driving history toward its end.
The holiest saint we’ve ever known in our lives is still only the mono mix. David’s painfully aware of the wrong notes he’s hitting, the missed instrumental entrances, and how out of tune his instrument is. The cry of David at the end of the psalm is the same cry as creation itself, and as we increase in holiness we sing in better harmony with the rest of creation, joining their song, let all the glory-blocking sin be gone from the universe, especially for me. This relates to that very sense of wonder and sense of mystery that we get from nature, because we long to experience that beauty in a deeper way than we do; we long to be a part of it. We want to be a part of the music and we want to sound well, we want to sound right when we’re in the mix.
I love the way C.S. Lewis put it. “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in. What human souls have become as perfect and voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which nature is only the first sketch. We are soon to pass in through nature, beyond her, into that splendor which she fitfully reflects.”
That brings us to our only hope, in closing: Jesus, the redeemer. Well, how will this purification happen? The key is foreshadowed at the end of verse 14. David addresses God as, “O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” His hope was in God himself to accomplish this in the role of a redeemer. David didn’t want to be stuck to his sins when God sweeps the universe clean of them. David knew that he needed the one who made him to remake him, or he was done for.
David’s hope was finally realized in Jesus. Jesus, as the writer of the letter to the Hebrews put it, radiance of the glory of God; or as John writes about how God’s special revelation of his glory became even more specific when Christ came incarnate, and when the “word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory.”
During his ministry Jesus demonstrated that he had authority over nature through his miracles, and nature reacted when her master dealt with our blockage to glory on the cross. Luke 23:44-45, the gospel writer writes, “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed.” It was the day the sun ran its course with sorrow instead of joy, stumbling along its path, trying to see through the tears. The skies that always declared the glory of God became dark in order to declare the wrath of God being laid on Jesus. That beaming, joyful face of the sun mournfully hid itself as the creator dealt with the creatures’ sin.
Earlier I mentioned John having a glimpse into the throne room of heaven, and God is being worshipped there for his role as creator. There’s another figure being worshipped there. He looks like a lamb that had been slain, but then he’s a lion, and he’s worthy to be worshipped, and they’re crying out and they’re singing his reason for worship is that he ransomed people for God by his blood. God enacted the redemption that David was longing for, through Jesus. The glorious Son became inglorious to give us access to God’s glory.
As it says in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” Brought to God, the one who is so much more beautiful and wonderful than anything he has created.
Is there anyone here who isn’t a believer, who hasn’t had their blockage to glory dealt with? Is Christ your redeemer? Are you united to him by faith? All the theological knowledge in the world and all the kindness possible to give others, that does nothing to solve our sin problem. That has to be dealt with by someone outside of ourselves, by the Redeemer. The same God who dazzles us by revealing his glory in the sky will one day dazzle the sky by revealing the glorious image of Jesus in his people. Are you going to be in all that when it happens, when God does that? Are you redeemed?
And to all my fellow brothers and sisters here who are redeemed, who are in Christ, we need to ask ourselves, are we growing in our experience of his glory? Our hearts crave glory, and they’ll find it wherever they can if we don’t go to the place where God’s provided that glory for us. Let us constantly lay ourselves before the blazing light of Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to show us the glory of Jesus on every page, so that inglorious sin won’t have dominion over us. Jesus has opened the way for us to be continually transformed from glory to glory, until that day when we shine like the sun in his Father’s kingdom.
Brothers and sisters, let’s put on the spectacles of Scripture and look around at the world around us. Let us see the sparks of God’s glory in nature. Let us not miss the opportunities to worship him by missing his fingerprints over all the things he’s made. We crave glory, and he’s revealed that glory to us. God has made a marvelous universe that displays his glory, he’s given us his word to clearly communicate that glory, and his word became flesh to bring us into that glory. How wonderful is the hope of the redeemer! Let’s pray.
Lord, we are in awe that you would reveal your glory to us in the way you have. Lord, you didn’t stop with nature; you didn’t even stop with Scripture, Lord, but you sent Jesus, the word made flesh, the all-glorious one, to bring us into your glory.
Lord, I do pray for anyone here who’s not a believer, for anyone who’s never repented and placed their faith in Christ, Lord, that today would be the day of salvation for them, that they would do that; that they would cling to your cross alone, Lord, and that their hopes would find the glory they’ve been secretly longing for all their lives.
Lord, I pray as we go that your word that’s revealed this truth to us, Lord, that we would hide it in our hearts, Lord, and that we would dive head-first into the glory that you’ve made available to us. For Jesus’ sake we ask these things, Amen.