Friday, March 23, 2018

Talking about God, and Talking to God (Psalm 19)

It’s not wrong to talk about God. In fact, it is essential. Also, it’s not wrong to talk about prayer. But there is the danger that in all of our talking, we often don’t get around to praying. Sometimes, we sit around and talk about God, but forget to talk to God.

Psalm 19 illustrates this for us, with an appropriate and happy ending. It is a beautiful psalm made up of two large parts. The first part (vv. 1-6) rejoices in the grandeur of God in creation. Here we see God bursting forth in His creative energy and power, and the psalmist is bursting right back in his enjoyment and praise. The second half (vv. 7-11) is a tender reflection on the value of “the law of the Lord.” It’s tone is much more restorative - “restoring the soul;” enlightening the eyes;” “making wise the simple.” The psalm confesses that we are a people with damaged souls, limited perception, and sometimes downright stupid. But God steps in and gives us a revelation of Himself and His character that can identify our sins and provide direction for recovery. (Remember, the Law does not save, only Jesus does. The power of salvation is in Christ, but the Law points us in that direction).

All of these verses (1-11) are talking about God. But in the end (vv. 12-14), the psalmist is compelled to talk to God. He prays.

There are four requests (commands) from the mouth of the psalmist in light of God’s grandeur and tenderness:
        a) Acquit me of hidden faults. 
        b) Keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; 
        c) Let them not rule over me; 
        d) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight,  

In light of God’s creative and restorative powers, both His grandeur and His tenderness, the psalmist acknowledges his smallness and inability; his dirtiness and unworthiness.  Reading the psalm over and over will not cure the problem. In fact, it will indeed exacerbate it. But it leads him to prayer. And God, in grand and tender fashion, provides the solution.

The mechanism for redemption, - for a) acquittal, and  b) changing the heart’s desires, and c) breaking the yoke of sin, d) so fashioning our words and thoughts that they are actually welcome in the courts of heaven - this is all possible because of the Gospel - that God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins and be raised as the Lord of glory; to then send His Spirit from heaven to inhabit the hearts of those who believe, so that, we can not only talk about God, but talk to God.

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