The atheist thinks we who are believers are crazy for believing in something we cannot see, whereas people of faith think atheists are crazy for not believing in something they can see!
The Bible calls them a fool, so I’ll go with that and agree (Psalm 14:1 – “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”). But let me just as quickly remind us all again of that passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 that we referenced just yesterday – talking about those God has chosen and called out of the world and into faith, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.”
The evidences for God and his revelation are broken into two categories: natural revelation and special revelation. Our Psalm today has both in one package: verses 1-6 speak of the value of general revelation in the beauty, order and immensity of creation, whereas verses 7-14 talk about God’s special revelation in the law given us in the written Word of God.
This first section of Psalm 19, along with passages like Romans 1:20, present the idea that man should look at the world around him, especially the daily march of the sun across the sky and the beauty and vast order of the universe, and conclude that there must be a God behind such a magnificent display. The old illustration of this is that of a clockmaker: that the complexity of the mechanism argues that something of that nature demands the reality of a creator behind it … as it could not “evolve” into such a thing on its own.
Natural revelation was an easy sell for me. As I shared in church this past week, I was a geeky sort of kid when it came to astronomy and science, researching how to build my own telescope as about a 10 or 11-year-old out of components purchased through a magazine’s advertising. It all worked; and to the annoyance of my mother, I would set alarms to get up at 4:00 in the morning to go outside in the dark to see some celestial event that could only be seen at that hour. And all of this served me well to supplement the Scriptural teaching component around me that indeed there was an awesome God who made the incredible sights I witnessed night after night.
The display of the Creator God’s work is a daily event. It is seen in the daytime by the sun, and in the evening by the moon and the stars. No, these objects don’t speak audibly, but they “speak” by their presence that indeed a God is behind it all – the same God that is intuitively felt and known by everyone, no matter how much they deny it.
I have often said that I never, ever had to explain or define God to my boys when they were young. It is known “in the heart.” Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy all needed some details from scratch. Everyone knows of and senses there is a God, whether they were ever told anything about him or not. The other three characters would never be conceived of by a child apart from being told about them in some detail.
The emphasis in this Psalm of the sun as an object of creation is no coincidence. For many pagan religions, their god (or one of their gods) was the sun. But in reality, the sun is a witness to the creator God. And nobody is exempt from experiencing the sun and its witness. Even the blind man could feel its life-giving warmth.
But what value is general revelation? In a summary statement: General (or natural) revelation is sufficient to condemn a man but insufficient to save him. It argues for the reality of a divine creator of whom the creature should seek as his God. But special revelation about God’s redemptive plan that culminates in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ is necessary for an eternal relationship with the Heavenly Father.
Thankfully we have in the written Word of God a complete record of God’s plan from eternity past to eternity future. And these Scriptures contain also all we need to know to live well – and as David says in this Psalm, they are more precious than gold and sweeter than honey, making us wise and guiding over lives.
So, as the calendar goes by and as you see the beauty of creation, reflect always upon the Creator who made such a display for you to be drawn to him. And as you’ve come to know him, grow more deeply in love with the One who loved you so much – to give you both the beauty of general revelation, and a divine calling of opening your eyes to the truth of his special revelation in his written Word.
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voicegoes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.