James Merritt - Here, There, and Everywhere
We're doing a series this month, I'm really pumped about it. We're calling it "Playlist", and you know what a playlist is. It's an audio or a video file, usually of music, and the young people, especially you younger guys, they know what it is. You know, you can collect it on your cell phone or on your computer, and it's really pretty cool. You've got programs out there like Spotify, Magic Playlist, Pandora. And, what you can do is you can actually categorize and organize all kinds of music, whatever genre you like. You know, rock, classic, country, whatever you like, and you can listen to it anytime that you want to.
So, we thought it'd be a cool idea if we put together this month a playlist of Biblical songs that address some of these major questions that are out there about God, and about evil, and about suffering. And you say, well, what kind of songs are you talking about? Well, we call them Psalms, but Psalms are really heaven's song. They're actually words that were actually put to music. That's what it is. A Psalm is a Biblical truth that was put to music. And, the Psalm that we're going to listen to today was written by a king you've probably heard of. His name was David, and I've kind of believed that of all of the songs that David wrote, this may have been one of his greatest hits, and I think if it were played today, it would be one of the most popular, certainly one of the deepest songs he ever wrote.
As a matter of fact, I've entitled the song. I took the liberty to do that. I've entitled the song, "Here, There, and Everywhere", because what the theme of the song simply is, is that's exactly where you'll find God. You'll find God here, you'll find God there, you'll find God everywhere. So, if you've brought a copy of God's Word and want to look along, or you want to get out your iPhone or your smart pad, or whatever it is you use, we're in the Book of Psalms. We're going to be there the next four weeks, give you a head start, and we're going to be today in Psalm 19. Now, if you don't know where Psalms is, it's really easy. If you have a Bible, it's right in the middle of your Bible. If you don't have a Bible, it's right before Proverbs, you know, right in there. So, it's right in the middle of your Bible, Psalm 19.
C.S. Lewis said this Psalm is the greatest poem in all of the Psalms, and one of the greatest songs ever written, and the theme is real simple. What David sings about, and what David wrote about in this song is simply this. God has spoken so loudly that if you listen, you can hear Him, and God has shown Himself so clearly that if you look, you can see. And the Psalm tells us we don't have to look far to find God. You really don't. And in the four stanzas of this Psalm, David tells us that God has spoken, and God has revealed Himself in four ways, so that we can know not just that He is, but who He is. We can actually see God here, there, and everywhere.
So, let's just see what David says about how we can see and where we can see God, okay? Number one, he says we see God's glory in the skies. If you'll look up, you'll see God's glory in the skies. Now, as I said, if you want to see God, you don't have to look very far. All you've got to do is just look up. The Word for man, by the way, in the Greek language you may have heard, is the word anthropos, and the word anthropos means to look up. It's just another way of God saying to the human race, hey, I am here. And, David begins the Psalm this way. He says, "The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His hands".
Now, how many of you have ever been to Times Square, just out of curiosity, in New York City? How many of you have been to Times Square? Okay, then you will probably recognize this picture. This is a picture of the world's largest and most technically advanced HD digital billboard. If you've been to Times Square, you've seen it. Actually, it spans a full city block. It is visible from every vantage point, no matter where you are, in Times Square. It has more than 25,000 square feet of digital canvas, and advertisers love it, and they pay a big premium to have it, because it makes more than two million impressions every week. Every day, approximately 330,000 people pass through Times Square, many of them tourists, while another 460,000 pedestrians walk through Times Square on its very busiest days. 500,000 cars go through Times Square every day, and nearly 400,000 employees who work downtown go by the Square as they go to work and as they go home. It features the highest contrast LED display in the world. It's got wide viewing angles, making sure you can see the display whether you're in the darkest of night or you're in broad daylight.
If you've ever been to Times Square, you know. That thing is as bright at 12 Noon as it is at 12 Midnight, and that's why you've got all of these advertisers that pay mega megabucks to advertise on the largest billboard in the world. And yet, David says there is a billboard that puts that billboard to shame. Creation is God's billboard, announcing 24/7, every day of the week, I am here. And by the way, just like that billboard didn't just happen, just like, you know, some people would try to tell you, oh, there was just this big explosion in a junkyard, and that billboard just kind of showed up! Well, no, it didn't, and neither did the heavens, and neither did the planets, and neither did you, and neither did me.
As a matter of fact, the Psalm continues. He said, "Day after day, they pour forth speech, night after night, they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words, no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth and their words to the ends of the world". In other words, what David said was, you can hear God day and night. You can see God when it's dark, and you can see God when it's light. When you look up, David said, you're not just seeing physical, natural beauty. You're seeing spiritual, supernatural beauty. And, there are two aspects of the skies that kind of clue us in immediately that there has to be a God out there. Let me tell you what they are. First of all, just think about the immensity of what's up there. Next time you go out, whether it's at night or daytime, and just look up, just let your mind kind of consider just the immensity, how big it is. By the way, the word for skies back up in Verse 1, it literally means the expanse of the heavens.
Now, you think about the incredible size of this universe. Let me give you an illustration. Somebody tell me, and let's see how well you remember your physics. How fast does light travel? Somebody tell me. All right, so 186,000 miles a second. How fast is that? Roughly the speed of Atlanta traffic in the far left hand lane if you have a Peach Pass, okay? About 186,000 miles a second. Now, listen to this. Traveling at the speed of light, you would have to travel 4-1/2 years just to get to the nearest star. 4-1/2 years, 186,000 miles a second. If you traveled at the speed of light 10 billion years, you still would not have reached the end of the known universe, and we now know that the universe is actually expanding every single day.
Take our galaxy that we live in. Our galaxy contains 100 billion suns. Our universe contains 100 billion galaxies. The distance from one edge of an average galaxy to the other edge is approximately 600,000 trillion miles. And yet, believe it or not, there are actually people with PhDs who want to say to us, now somebody built that billboard, but this just happened. And you may believe that. You say you don't? No, I don't have enough faith to believe that. I just don't. I just believe behind everything that's there, somebody built it. But, let me just stop. It's not just the immensity of the universe that tells us God is there, and here, and everywhere, it's the complexity of it, because listen again to what David says in Verse 2. He said, "Day after day, they pour forth speech, night after night, they reveal knowledge".
Now, by the way, the word for pour forth, that word literally means to gush out. What David was saying was, the skies are furiously gushing out evidence like a waterfall that there is a God, there's a real God, there is a powerful God, and you can see it just in the way it's all put together. If you cannot see God in the skies, it's not God's problem! It's your problem. Abraham Lincoln said this. "I can understand how someone might look down at the earth and say there is no God, but how can anyone look up into the heavens and say there is no God"? David said we see God's glory in the skies. And then, David said this. We see God's guidance in the Scriptures. We see God's guidance in the Scriptures.
Now, the Psalm shifts from God's Word to God's world. Here's what David's going to tell us. When I look up into the skies, we see the power of God, but when we look into the Scriptures, we see the person of God. And, the next stanza of the song tells us how we cannot only see God's power when we look up, but we can hear God's voice when we look in, because six times, you're going to hear this phrase. "Of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord", and David, in this stanza, tells us that this Scripture that I'm preaching from right now is the Word of the Lord, and every word in this stanza tells us what the Bible is, and what the Bible does. So, he says this, in Verse 7. He says, "The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple".
Now, that word there for perfect, a very cool word, it literally means whole. It means complete. It means lacking nothing. In other words, what David said, God's Word will tell you all you need to know to behave right. It will also tell you all you need to know to believe right, because he said it's trustworthy. You can take the Bible's Word for anything. You won't find equivocation. You won't find double speak. You won't find amendments. You won't find footnotes. It tells you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Then, he goes on to say this. He says, "The precepts of the Lord, they're right. They give joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant. They give light to the eyes". He says God's Word is right.
By the way, that word, the word precepts, that word literally means to order, or it means to direct. In other words, he says, you know what? When you open up this book, it's kind of like opening up a road map. And he said, every time you follow this road map, it always leads you the best way. It always leads you the right way. You'll never get into a ditch on either side. You'll never fall in a pothole. You'll never, ever stumble on a rock if you'll just go by the map of this book. It will show you how to walk the right path, whether it's light or whether it's dark. And then, he says, you know what? It's radiant, because God's Word will shine a light when you're in the dark to make sure you're on the right path and you stay on the right path.
So, this is what I love about knowing God. God did not put us here to wander around in the dark, wondering, why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life? Is there any purpose or meaning to the fact that I'm here? Can I make any difference because I'm here, or does it matter whether I'm here or not? That's exactly why God wrote this book, to let us know, you know what? There is a purpose for your life. You're not here by accident. You're here by divine appointment. I've got things I want you to do. I've got things I want you to accomplish. I've got a meaning for your life, and you can find it in what I want you to do, and I'll tell you where you're supposed to go. I'll tell you how you're supposed to behave.
I'll tell you what you are to believe, which by the way is why we ought to be shining our light to others who don't have a clue about this book, and don't have a clue about God, and they're out there wandering in the wilderness, and out there wandering in the dark, and we've got the answer to what they're looking for. And then, we read this in Verse 9. He says, "The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous". Now, I'll tell you this. One of my favorite words is this Hebrew word, when he says "The decrees of the Lord are firm"?
One of my favorite Hebrew words, because it literally means fixed. And what David is saying is this. This book is always going to be relevant, and this book is always going to be reliable, and it's fixed, it never changes. Whatever it tells you is right will always be right. Whatever it tells you is wrong will always be wrong, and it will never change. God's Word is a rock that can't be broken. It's a sound that cannot be silenced. It's a fire that cannot be quenched. It's a light that cannot be extinguished. You know why? Because this book doesn't just inform. Every other book you read will inform you. This book will transform you! It will change you. You cannot be the same, reading this book. And then, David goes on to say it is the virtues of God's Word that shows us the value of God's Word, because listen to what he says in Verse 10. "They", now it says he's talking about the truths we find in the Scriptures. He said, "They are more precious than gold".
Now, think about this. David says this book I'm holding in my hand is more valuable and more precious than gold, "than much pure gold. They are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned, in keeping them there is great reward". Now, gold and honey, back in Bible days, they represented the most valuable objects and the finest food that you could possibly eat. And, I want to tell you, I got to thinking as I was working on this message weeks ago, it hit me, and I hope you'll agree with this. I think we're living in a day and an age where we know the price of everything and the value of nothing. We know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. We see God's power in the skies. We see God's person in the Scriptures. But then, David says, you know what? There's another way we can see God. We see God's goodness in the soul. Not just His glory in the skies, not just His guidance in the Scriptures, we see God's goodness in the soul, because there's another way that God speaks to all of us, whether we realize it or not at times. He speaks to us in the soul.
Listen to what he says in Verse 12. He says, "Who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults". He's talking now to God. "Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins, may they not rule over me, then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression". What David is saying is, you know, I know I'm a king, and I know I'm a good king, and I know I'm a man after your own heart. I know all of that, but you know what I also know, Lord? I know I'm far from perfect. God is good, and God wants us to be good. But, God knows that the best life is the good life, but God also knows, sin is to the soul...we're going to talk about this next week. Sin is to the soul what kryptonite is to Superman.
So, you know what God has done for everybody that's ever been born? From the very time you drew your first breath, God gave you something called a conscience. There are certain things we're just born knowing is wrong. Nobody had to teach you that murder is wrong. Nobody had to teach you that stealing is wrong. Nobody had to really teach you that lying is wrong. And we know that, not only because of God's guidance in the Scripture, but because of God's goodness in the soul. God has put an alarm clock in every one of us, and it goes off when we do something wrong, or we've done something wrong against somebody else, and especially when we've done something wrong against God.
Let me tell you why this is so important. Why is it that a man can murder somebody in cold blood, and he's guilty, and he did it, but he goes before the judge and he pleads not guilty. He's guilty, but he pleads not guilty. The evidence is presented. It's overwhelming. There's no doubt that he did it, and he's convicted. He goes to prison, proclaiming his innocence. I didn't do it! He'll spend his life in prison, saying, I didn't do it. He might even be put to death, and the last words he'll say, I didn't do it. But, he did! Well, you say, why is that? How do you reconcile that? It's real easy. A courtroom can convict you of a crime, but only God can convict you of sin. A courtroom can convict you of a crime, but only God can convict you of sin. And you cannot get right with God, and never will get right with God, until you realize you're wrong with God, and you'll never realize how wrong you are with God until God reveals it, and that's what God does in the Psalm.
So, here's what God does. He does us a big favor. First of all, He helps us detect our sin. Listen to what he says in Verse 12. He says, "Who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults". Did you know that we all have hidden faults? My wife and I, we've been married 41-plus years. She knows me inside and out. She knows me better than anybody on the planet except God, but you know what? I've got faults at times she doesn't know anything about. They're hidden. As a matter of fact, I hate to burst some bubbles today, but I'm just going to do it, and I'm just going to use some real countrified language to make my point, but I want to get the theology across. Are you ready? They ain't nobody as good as they think they are.
I don't care how good you think you are, you're not as good as you think you are, because we all have hidden faults. All of us are worse than others think that we are. And see, we can detect some obvious sin, but only God can detect all sin. Have you ever had the experience of somebody kind of being honest enough with you to tell you about a fault you didn't know you had? We've all had that, right? You know, Pastor, you need to be more patient. I don't need to be more patient! You know, we've all had that happen, right? I mean, I didn't realize that, right? Do you realize how intense you are? No. Do you realize you interrupt people? I didn't know that. We all do that. Only God can detect our sin, but it gets deeper. Only God can correct our sin. Only God can forgive our hidden faults.
You know, when you do something wrong, other people can forgive you. When you do something wrong, you may be able to forgive yourself. But, you'll never be freely forgiven, you'll never be fully forgiven, and you'll never be finally forgiven until God forgives you, because ultimately, all sin is against God. So, God is the one that detects, God is the one that corrects, and only God can protect us from sin. He says, in Verse 13, "Keep your servant also from willful sins, may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression". In other words, what David said was, God, only you can keep me from falling into a pit. Only you can keep me from getting into a ditch. Only you, in the end, can really keep me from not only not being lead into temptation, but make sure that I don't give in to the temptation.
You know, I've had the unfortunate experience of seeing a lot of great men of God fall. I'm thinking of one right now. You would know if I called his name. I'm thinking about a young pastor. He's in Florida. He was pastoring one of the fastest growing churches in Florida you could imagine. I mean, this guy went to the top like a rocket. And, he fell, had an affair. And I've talked to more of these pastors than I even care to even think about, and in fact, I want to say this. Without exception, when you talk to these men who fell, let me tell you what happened. In fact, I'll put it in the form of a mathematical equation. Sin equals an undetected weakness, plus an unexpected temptation, plus an unprotected life. Every time I've talked to these men, they had an undetected weakness. They didn't get up one day and say, I think I'll ruin my marriage. I think I'll just blow my ministry. It was an undetected weakness. It was an unexpected temptation. She just walked into the door for a counseling session. And then, they had an unprotected life.
So, to keep us from sin, there's a God up there who says, you know what? I'll help you detect your sin, and I'm the one that can correct your sin, and I can protect you from sin. That's why a guilty conscience is evidence of the goodness of God, because God wants us to live a life that is free from the one thing that pollutes and poisons every life, and that is sin. So, where do we see God? We see His glory in the skies. We see His guidance in the Scriptures. We see His goodness in the soul, and I think we kind of messed up on the notes. There's one last thing I want you to write down. We see God's grace in the Savior. I'm going to say this, then I'll be done.
Now, watch this. Listen to how he ends this Psalm. He says, "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord". Now, watch how he closes. He could have stopped it right there and the verse would have been fine, but he goes on to add this. "My rock and my redeemer". "My rock and my redeemer".
So, I close with this. Jim Irwin was one of the astronauts that went to the moon. And after Jim Irwin got back from being on the moon, he kind of thought about what he had seen and what he experienced, and here's what he wrote. He said, "When I looked out and saw the earth about as big as a little marble, I thought, how big am I? I'm just a speck of dust, if that big, compared to the universe, and yet, this little speck has the capacity to know God, to know the one who holds the universe, to know His love, and have His direction. For the first time I saw, felt God's love for the earth. I realized then that God loves that little blue marble, that little blue planet. He loved all of the billions of people on it, and He loved me, and I realized at that moment that my relationship with Jesus Christ was the most precious thing I had".
Irwin was right, because whether you're on the earth looking up at the moon, or you're on the moon looking back at the earth, God is here, God is there, and God is everywhere, and this God is so great, and yet this God is so small. You can go to a cross, and you can go to an empty tomb, and meet Him anytime, and He'll receive you with open arms.