Something Lives in Every Hue: God’s Revelation to the Believer
Many Christian apologists have written about the truth that God has not left His image bearers without a witness to Himself. Francis Schaeffer famously expressed this truth in the title of his book, He Is There and He Is Not Silent. Put simply, God is the God Who reveals Himself to His image bearers. He has created us to know Him and has revealed Himself in ways that make knowing Him possible.
Scripture clearly states that every individual has knowledge of God. But Paul tells us in Romans 1:18 that human sinfulness suppresses this knowledge. Unbelievers willfully deny truths God has made plain about Himself in creation, in their own consciences and in His Word. Truly, rebellion against God runs deep in the unregenerated head and heart through the rejection of His revelation.
But what about believers? How do we who have experienced the new birth respond to and benefit from God’s revelation?
Psalm 19, one of my favorites, gives a beautiful answer to this question. Through elegant poetry and powerful truth, this Psalm explains what God’s revelation communicates to the believer.
Knowledge to be Applied
The first six verses of Psalm 19 describe God’s general revelation in creation, specifically the heavens. “The heavens declare the glory of God!” the Psalmist exclaims. The word “declare” is more than simply telling or declaring. It has the idea of enumerating or tallying.
You can think of it this way: God is helping us “score” His glory by what He’s put in the sky and the universe beyond. Sports fans know what it is to keep score. Yes, part of it is to keep the score itself, but there are also the statistics. For example, in baseball a home run is not simply a run. Plus, the distance of that home run and the ball’s exit velocity as it leaves the bat are also worth considering. Similarly, every star and every planet in God’s universe help us “tally” God’s infinite power, His glory or weightiness. And these heavenly objects are merely the work of God’s hands!
But there’s even more that creation reveals. The way God’s creation manifests itself, or the way it simply works, reveals or declares knowledge to the believer. “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge” (Ps. 19:2). This knowledge gleaned from the created order can be applied to life as one of Christ’s teaching techniques illustrates best. He asked His followers to consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the field — aspects of creation itself — in order to understand that God will take care of His people.
When we take time to observe God’s created order through regenerated eyes — even in this fallen world — we glean knowledge revealed by God, knowledge that can be applied to life. That’s the glory of God’s revelation!
Treasure to be Desired
Verses 7-11 of this Psalm speak to God’s written revelation, or His special revelation.
It is treasure to be desired. The psalmist uses six different synonyms to describe or name God’s Word along with a corresponding characteristic and then a result or benefit. For example, verse 7 tells us, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting [or restoring] the soul.”
Following these poetic descriptions, the psalmist concludes, “More to be desired (is God’s Word) than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” I think we all understand the value of gold and the desire people have for it. But what of this image of honey and the honeycomb?
In God of All Things: Rediscovering the Sacred in an Everyday World, Andrew Wilson offers this description of honey:
Honey is astonishing. … (It) lasts through the centuries, not just metaphorically but literally; it never goes out of date. … (H)oney is unprocessed. In our world, virtually everything we eat is treated, sterilized, cooked, or pasteurized and then combined with other things to make it more palatable. … But honey is almost unique in having no need for additives, flavorings, or preservatives. It is luxuriously sweet and delicious without even trying.
To the believer, this is what God’s written revelation is — a pure, sweet treasure to be desired!
Mercy to be Received
David ends this Psalm with a prayer. He seeks God’s mercy for both known and unknown sins (Ps. 19:12-13). And then he concludes, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14). In other words, David acknowledges his need for God’s deliverance because of his propensity to sin.
While certainly not an explicit messianic prophecy, I hear in David’s closing prayer anticipation for God’s supreme revelation, the person of Christ. Jesus, our Messiah, is the exact image of God and the outpouring of His mercy to purge us from our sins (Heb. 1:1-4). God’s revelation in the person of Christ is to the believer mercy to be received.
What is it that believing eyes see that unbelieving eyes don’t in God’s revelation? We see knowledge to apply, treasure to desire and mercy to receive. The hymnist indeed got it right, “Something lives in every hue / Christless eyes have never seen.”
As discussed by Gary Weier on The Steve Noble Show on June 30