ďThe Law Of The Lord Is PerfectĒ†††††††††† Psalm 19††††††††††† February 6, 2011
SI:† Please open your Bibles to Psalm 19
This winter weíre studying a number of famous Psalms.
†† C.S. Lewis said that this is the most beautiful of all the Psalms
†† and one of the most beautiful lyric poems in the world.
What do you think of when you hear ďthe law.Ē
†† A policeman pulling you over for speeding?
†† A moral standard that condemns you?
Letís see what this Psalm says about the law.
INTRO:† My sister and I have a memory of a family vacation a long time ago.
It was nighttime and we were on our way to North Carolina and we crossed the
†† Smoky Mountains at Newfound Gap.† My dad pulled off at the overlook.
†† We all got out stood in awe of the stars.†
It was one of those experiences of the beauty of Godís creation you never forget.
†† The words of Psalm 19 rang true:
†† ďThe heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.Ē
As a believer, itís easy to see Godís glory in nature.†
You see a beautiful sunset or a full moon rising,
†† or some delicate thing like a spiderís web on a dewy morning.
You just open your eyes to creation and you give glory to God.
†† For his wisdom, for his majesty, for his creativity and power and beauty.
†† I know every one of you have done that at one time or another.
Why do Christians often have retreats and camps in beautiful locationsó
†† on lakes or in the mountains?†
Because just seeing the glory of nature brings to our minds the glory of the Creator.
So you read the first half of Psalm 19 and you automatically get it.
David was looking at creation, especially the sky and the sun in its Middle Eastern
†† blaze of heat and gloryóand it caused him to praise God for his glory.
And you think that is what this Psalm is all about.† Godís glory in creation.
But then this Psalm shifts gears abruptly in verse 7.
†† And it starts to talk about Godís glory revealed in something else.†
What is it?† Whatís the other way Godís glory is declared?†
†† In his law.† The law of the Lord is perfect.†
And thatís harder for us to grasp.
†† Because itís not in our nature to think of law as glorious.
C. S. Lewis wrote a little book called Reflections on the Psalms.
In that book is a chapter about Psalm 19.†
†† The title of the chapter is ďSweeter Than HoneyĒ which is from verse 10 where
†† David says that Godís law is ďsweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.Ē
Lewis says:† I donít understand that.† I donít understand how a person could
†† take so much delight in Godís law that it is like honey to him.
If David had said:† I respect Godís law.† I appreciate Godís law.
†† I understand the value of Godís law.† That I could understand.
†† But how can anyone actually take delight in the law?
If you are a sports fan, you know all the rules of the sport you love.
†† You understand them.† You appreciate how they make the sport what it is.
†† You know why the rules are important.
But you donít take delight in the rules and sit around reading the rule book.
†† The rules of the game arenít honey to you.
†† You read Sports Illustrated.† You watch and talk about the games.
And on a much more serious note, how can you delight in Godís moral law
†† when it prohibits and condemns your strong desires and feelings?
If a poor person who is hungry smells fresh bread,
†† does he rejoice in the law of God that tells him not to steal?
If a person in a loveless marriage finds a lover, does that person delight
†† in the law of God that says thou shalt not commit adultery?
You might understand Godís law, and see it is necessary for society and family.
But thatís very different from saying the law is sweeter than honey to you,
†† and more precious than gold, than much pure gold.
And yet, that is exactly what David says.
This isnít the only place.† Itís a theme that fills the Psalms, starting with Psalm 1.
†† Remember Psalm 1, the righteous man, the fruitful tree planted by streamsó
†† ďHis delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.Ē
Psalm 119, the longest Psalm, 176 verses, every one is about the law of God.
†† And the many ways that the law is sweetness and light to the believer.
†† O how I love your law, says Psalm 119, it is my meditation all day long.
The Apostle Paul says in Romans:† ďIn my inner being I delight in Godís law.Ē
†† James speaks of the perfect law that brings freedom.
And our Lord Jesus Christ himself said:
†† ďMy food is to do the will of him who sent me.Ē
†† Godís law was Christís food.† He delighted in it.
Godís law should be as much of a delight to you as a beautiful sunset
†† or a clear night with a million stars.† Because Godís law proclaims Godís glory.†
If you donít glory in Godís law and love it, you canít glorify and love God rightly.
†† Letís look at Psalm and see three ways law displays Godís glory.† It shows . . .
†† the character of God
†† the sin of your heart
†† the path to grace
MP#1† The law shows the character of God.
In verses 7-9 are six statements about Godís law.
†† Each one is written in the same form.† There is a description of the law.
†† And then there are the effects of the law for the believer.†
†† Six descriptions and six effects.
The law of the Lord is perfect (the description, perfect),
†† reviving the soul (thatís the effect).
Look at your Bible and these descriptions:†
†† perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, sure.
The distinctive feature of Hebrew poetry is what scholars call parallelism.†
†† Lines and phrases that repeat and build on each other.
So these descriptions build on each other until we come to the last word
†† on which the emphasis falls.† Godís law is sure.
Now, letís park here for a few minutes and meditate on this.
†† What a tremendous grace it is that God has given us a law that is sure.
Look at the age and society we live in and how all moral laws are crumbling.
†† Abortion, homosexual marriage.† Pope John Paul II called it the culture of death.
†† Good is called evil and evil is called good.
†† And there are so many convincing arguments that turn things on their head.
But God says:† Iím giving you a law that is sure.† What a grace that is.
†† And when you look at your own life and your family,
†† what a grace it is that God has given his people a law that is sure.
I heard a minister tell recently about some parents in his church who came to see
†† him because their daughter wanted to live with her boyfriend.†
The parents said, Weíve tried to talk her out of this
†† but she has an argument for everything.†
Weíve said that if you have sex before you get married,
†† you will have problems with intimacy and trust later.
Weíve told her that couples who cohabit have a much higher divorce rate.
†† And she says:† Well, how do we know weíre compatible if we donít live together?
†† What argument can we make that will convince her?
He told them:† Hereís Godís grace to you in a very painful situation.
†† You donít have to make convincing arguments.† Godís law is sure.†
The law is a glorious revelation of the character of God.
†† His law is sure because he is sure.† You can be sure everything he says is right.
And because of that, you can know that you are safe when you follow him.
Thatís where David goes next in verses 10 and 11.
†† Here he says that Godís law is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey.
†† And he says that in keeping it there is great reward.
He doesnít say, You are rewarded if you keep Godís lawócertainly true.
†† But the actual keeping of it is itself a reward.
†† The reward is that you are on a path that is sure and safe.
This comes to even clearer focus when David says that Godís servant is warned
†† by the law of God.† The implication is that if you break the law you can get hurt.†
Godís law isnít arbitrary.† He doesnít just make laws to smother you.
†† He wants you to be kept safe.† His laws are good for you.
As Christians, we donít emphasize this enough.† At least I donít.
†† I tend to say:† This is just wrong.† You shouldnít do it.† Thatís certainly true.†
But Godís law was sweet to David because he saw that it was an expression
†† of the character of the Lord who wanted to keep him safe.
And that should be our message and approach to the law for ourselves
†† and other believers.† The law of good is sure and it keeps you safe,
†† because God cares for you and wants to keep you safe.
Another preacher story:† A man I know tells the story that when he was early
†† in the ministry, in his first church, one of his members asked him to perform her
†† wedding.† But the man she was engaged to was not a Christian.
So he told her that he couldnít.† And that she couldnít marry this man.
†† Because Godís law says believers are not to be unequally yoked.
†† And, as you can imagine, that stirred up a hornets nest.† Second guessed self.
Somehow an old minister heard about it, came to see him and said.
†† Iíve been a pastor over 40 years.† Iíve never seen the marriage of a believer and
†† an unbeliever last over five years, except one that lasted 13 years.†
Remember, Godís law spares his people from pain if they obey it.†
Without a doubt, there are good Christians who suffer loneliness and long
†† for a spouse.† Donít want to downplay that pain.† Itís real.†
But hereís the glory of Godís law.† Itís sure and it keeps you safe.
†† Thatís because itís a reflection of the character of our God.
Think about it.† If God would give his own Son to die for your salvation,
†† donít you think the laws he gives you will reflect his perfect love?
†† Godís law brings him glory because it reveals his character.
MP#2† Godís law shows the sin of your hearts
Something interesting happens next in the Psalm.
†† David has been proclaiming the glory and sweetness of the law of God,
†† and how it shows him the loving character of the Lord.
But then the law suddenly flashes on him.
Think of looking at a beautiful washed and waxed car or motorcycle on bright day.
†† Youíre walking around it, admiring the paint job, admiring this lovely machine,
†† and then the sun catches on some chrome and flashes right in your eyes.
And itís painful and blinding.† Thatís what happens here.†
†† David suddenly experiences the perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, sure
†† law of God searching him and he says in verse 12.
ďWho can discern his errors?† Forgive my hidden faults.Ē
The law of God reveals his hidden faults.
†† What does that mean?† What are hidden faults?† There are two ways to take this.
Hidden faults could mean your secret sins.
†† Something youíve successfully kept hidden from other people.†
†† And maybe youíve hidden it so carefully and so long that youíve come up
†† with a very comfortable way of justifying it to yourself.†
In our day and age, the prime example is internet pornography.
†† The power of it is its private, hidden nature.
But this is what the law of God does, it shines a light on that hidden thing.
†† Even though you know no other people know, you become painfully
†† aware that God knows.† What was once carefully tucked away with just a few
†† pangs of conscience, now becomes something intensely painful.
But David probably means something else by hidden faults.†
He means sinful ways of thinking and acting that you are blind to.
†† You donít even see them in yourself.† It might be the goals you have for life.
Or the way you approach your work or money.†
†† Things that arenít bad in themselves, but your whole approach to them is wrong.
†† You donít have a clue how wrong you are, and then Godís law makes it plain.
I told you a few years ago about a man I know who,
†† when he graduated from high school, told his dad he was going to be a lawyer.
His father asked him why and he said:† Because Iím tired of being a poor
†† preacherís kid and I want to make a lot of money.†
His dad said:† If the Lord has called you to practice law, thatís a good thing.
But if you are pursuing it to get rich, you are going to be sorry.† Bible says:
†† People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish
† †and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
But he was blind to what his dad said because this was a hidden fault.
†† He became a lawyer and made a lot of money and then suffered disappointments.
†† And in Godís time he remembered what his dad had said.
End of the story was that he didnít quit law, but he repented of his goal to get
†† rich and began to serve and glorify Christ as an attorney.
Then David says:† ďKeep your servant also from willful sins.Ē
There are secret faults and willful sins.†
†† Heís talking about the things that you know are wrong, but you do them anyway.
†† When you just dig in your heels and say no to God,
†† or just barrel along and say:† Iím doing this.
You might come up with some elaborate justification and excuse,
†† or you might even say:† I know this is wrong but I want it.
Hereís Davidís point about the law of God.
Our sins harm us and other people.† They can hurt our testimony.
†† They can have generational consequences.† They can enslave.
†† And they never bring the happiness that they promise long term.
On top of that every one of us have an incredible capacity for self-justification,
†† and self-deception, and blindness and stubbornness.
So the only thing that can bring us up sort and arrest us in our mad plunge
†† into sin and sorrow is the law of God.† Because it shows the sins of the heart.
It reveals the hidden sins and makes them painful to the conscience.
†† It warns us about the willful sins and gives us reasons to put brakes on.
In the earlier part of the Psalm, David talks about the sun, says that nothing
†† is hidden from its heat.† Thatís a picture of Godís law.† Nothing is hidden.
Thatís why David loves it.† Because he knows he would be in deep trouble
†† were it not for the law showing him his real problems.
Because only when you see your desperate need can you get Godís grace.
†† Leads to third point.
MP#3† Godís law shows the path to grace.
David proclaims the glory and sweetness of the law of God,
†† and how it shows him the loving character of the Lord.
Then the law suddenly flashes on him and reveals his hidden faults
†† and his willful sins.† Heís glad that he has been warned.
But he recognizes that his life is not what it should be.
So he says in verse 14:
†† ďMay the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart
†† †be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.Ē
This is really the climax.† This is what makes the law most sweet to David.
He says:† O Lord, I want to be obedient both on the inside and in what comes out.
†† I want to obey your law.
†† I know it is the sure and safe path, but I canít.† I need help.
I need a Rock.† When I get off the path and in the ditch, and I know I will,
†† I need somebody who is in a sure and firm position to reach down
†† and lift me up and put me on the pathway of your law again.
And I need a Redeemer.† Because I know that itís not just getting off the path,
†† itís breaking your law and that there is an offense against you and punishment.
†† I need somebody to pay that for me.†
This word ďpleasing in your sightĒ† King James says ďacceptableĒ
†† was the term used for offering an unblemished animals sacrifice.
If it was pleasing to God, if it was acceptable to him, then sins were forgiven.
†† Itís the principle of substitution.†
Of course you see who this is about, donít you?† Itís about Jesus Christ.
†† Thatís who David is pointing to here.† Heís speaking prophetically.
But even though he lived 1000 years before Christ,
†† he knew that he needed God, through a Redeemer to save him
This last verse in Psalm 19 points to the passage in Galatians
†† that says the law is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.
And thatís where the sweetness of Godís law mostly comes from.
†† Because through it we see our need for Jesus.
When we sin we knew he reaches down and sets us on or feet again,
†† and he is able to do that because he has already redeemed us with his blood.
And if you know that, the fact that he has rescued you should make you
†† all the more willing and eager to obey Godís law.
Instead of making you careless.†
†† If you really know Jesus and understand grace, you will want to try
†† even harder to follow Godís law and live a pure life for him.†
When I was 16, I had just gotten my driverís license.
†† I jumped in my dadís little Datsun 310 and backed right into a car parked in our
†† driveway.† It belonged to man who had stopped by the house to talk to my dad.
†† I was horrified.† Because I knew that this car I had backed into was brand new.
So I went into the house and told them.†
†† And Iíll never forget my fatherís response.† He was utterly calm.
†† And he worked out everything with this man and paid to get it fixed.
And he told me to always turn my head and look behind, never just use rearview
†† mirror and to be careful because the Datsun had a blind spot.
You really had to crane your neck to see behind that funny little car.
†† To this day I crane my neck and Iíve never backed into another car.
†† Although once I did back over a large rock in an RVóbut thatís another story.
But let me make sure you understand.†
The reason I followed the rules was not just so I wouldnít have another wreckó
†† Itís because I wanted to please my father.
I was so grateful that he paid for my mistake and set me driving again.†
†† I wanted to drive well, not just for me but for him.
And thatís what the grace of God does for you.
It makes Godís law more than a sure and safe path for your life,
†† it makes it a way, the way, to show God you love him sending his only Son
†† to live and die for your salvation.†
And your obedience is the way you show Jesus you love him
†† for being your Rock and your Redeemerófor paying for your hidden faults,
†† and willful sins with his blood, and time and time again, setting you on the path.
In first half of Psalm 19, when David is still taking about Godís glory in nature,
†† he compares the sun to two different kinds of peopleó
†† a bridegroom on his wedding day and a champion runner stepping to starting line.†
The think that both of those people have in common is that they are eager, joyful.
†† On the morning of the wedding, you donít have to drag groom out of bed.
†† Heís excited to get to the church on time and get his bride.
And a champion runner might grumble in practice.
†† But on the day of the race he steps up to the line and rejoices to run the course.
Davidís point is:
Just as God the Creator has established laws of nature for his creation to follow,
†† so God the Redeemer has established moral laws for his people to follow.
And just as the sun and all creation finds its purpose and fulfillment and joy
†† in following Godís natural laws eagerly, so you find your purpose,
†† and your fulfillment, and your joy in following Godís moral laws eagerly.†
Do you delight in Godís law?† Is it sweeter than honey to you?
†† It should be.† Make every effort to make it so.
Remember that it shows you the character of Godóthat he loves you
†† and want you to have a sure and safe path through life.
Allow it to search you.†
†† To expose your hidden faults and deliver you from willful sins.†
And follow the path it leads you to Jesus Christ, your Rock and Redeemer.
†† Remember all he has done for you.† His death on the cross.
†† And remember he said:† If you love me, you will do what I command.