Been a lot of years since I’ve had occasion to watch Sesame Street (it’s still on, right?) But one of its segments came to mind as I was reading the nineteenth psalm this morning. Go figure . . . not laying that one at the Holy Spirit’s feet . . . just the way my mind works . . . or, some might contend, sorta’ works.
Anyway, as I read through and the psalm, at first, it seemed to have three somewhat unrelated sections to it. The first about the heavens, the second about the law, the third about the avoidance of sin. But as I tried to “step back,” I think I saw a flow. God makes Himself known. Known through the handiwork of His creation and through the hearing of His word. His glory is declared by His ways, the magnificence of the heavens. And His glory is declared by His will, the revelation of His word. The first resulting in eyes turned upward, blessing God as we declare His glory. The second, turning our eyes inward, recognizing our benefits as we take in His word.
And the result of such revelation? It is the discerning of error. The acknowledgement of sin. The need to plead for God’s gracious intervention . . . “declare me innocent” . . . keep me back from arrogant sin . . . let not such iniquity rule over me . .. by Your grace and power, make me blameless and innocent “of great transgression.”
So I think the song flows . . . each “verse” builds on the previous. Behold the glory of God . . . ingest the word of God . . . know the mind of God as it relates to our sin . . . and cast yourself upon God to work the work of grace that declares you blameless.
Ok . . . but where’s the Sesame Street thing? It’s in the portion concerning God’s word. See if you can find it . . .
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11 ESV)
That this section is talking about God’s word is clear. It is sweeter than honey for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. It is to be desired more than gold for those who wish to lay up treasure in heaven. And it’s benefits are many. It revives the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, and warns God’s servant.
And as the poet pens this tribute to the word, the Spirit moves Him to use a number of synonyms. But one of these, at first, doesn’t seem like the others. God’s word is referred to as the law, the testimony, the precepts, the commandment, the rules or judgments, and the fear. The fear? How often have I ever thought of God’s word as “the fear?” Doesn’t seem to fit. Or does it?
I like what Spurgeon says, “The doctrine of truth is here described by its spiritual effect, viz., inward piety, or the fear of the Lord; this is clean in itself, and cleanses out the love of sin, sanctifying the heart in which it reigns.”
The word of God is a “fear generator” . . . an “awe factory” . . . a reverence producer. True? As we encounter the God of the word through the word of God, as His mind and His way is illuminated to us by His Spirit, is there not a holy fear that often prevails over our meditation? Is there not a cleansing action that occurs as we bow ourselves to Him who shows through His word that He is holy, holy, holy? Is there not reverent awe as, through His word, we experience an encounter of the divine kind with very One whose glory is declared by the heavens? I’m thinkin’. Maybe we do well to refer to our Bibles as “The Fear” more often.
. . . the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever . . .
Because of His grace . . . for His glory.