If you were to ask me how the concept of studying plays into the Christian experience, I’d respond immediately, “We need to study the word of God.” When I think of the “brain” component of my salvation, I go to “rightly handling the word of truth” (2Tim. 2:15). But the Psalmist this morning challenged my thinking on what should be our expanded sphere of study.
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
(Psalm 111:2 ESV)
My brain power is not just to be used to plumb the depths of the word of God, but to also probe the wonders of the works of God.
There is a field of study that goes beyond the written word. Oh, to be sure, the written word is part of it, for in the Scriptures we find the record of many of God’s great works: the record of God’s dealings with man; His mighty acts on behalf of Israel; His entrance into this world as Immanuel; His full and finished work of atonement on the cross; His “hallelujah chorus” demonstration of power in the resurrection. But if it is only about the Word, then I miss volumes of learning concerning His works.
Creation. The human body. Great movements of revival throughout history. The salvation of a soul. The salvation of my soul. All works to be studied . . . to be pondered . . . to be recalled and re-investigated with care. I make time for my Bible reading as a means to keep it real and fresh. Do I make time to study the works of God to keep them real and fresh or do I most often just take them for granted? To take time to reflect on His deeds–not just what He’s done long ago, but what God has done recently, what God is doing even now–I sense I need to take more time on this expanded sphere of study.
And the motivation isn’t simply knowledge, it’s pleasure.
God’s works are studied by those who delight in them. Endless enjoyment, says the Message. That’s what’s available to those who recognize and ponder the great works of God.
Looking in an aquarium, and seeing the great works of God. Standing on an ocean beach and watching the endless rolling of waves crash on the shore, appreciating afresh the God who ordained the tides.
Recalling a prayer answered or a time when God just “showed up.” Remembering those works in and around me that others may not have noticed.
Or even just shaving in the morning and realizing anew how fearfully and wonderfully made I am that my brain and hand work so well together that I don’t cut my throat (ok, sometimes that doesn’t always work out so well . . . but most times).
The works of God are all around us. And the songwriter says study them, inquire of them, recall them to memory. For they are to be a source of immense pleasure, delight and longing.
I remember being asked by more than one of my kids when they were younger about some subject they were studying at school, “Dad, why do I need to learn about this stuff? How am I ever going to use it in life? What difference will it make?” Well, if we’re talking about the works of God, the difference it will make is captured in one word . . . Praise!
Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
(Psalm 111:1 ESV)
A heart well-versed in the works of God will be a heart moved to praise. A heart that has known the pleasure of seeing God in His mighty, and sometimes not so mighty, deeds is one that is compelled to respond in worship. A heart that has experienced the joy of knowing God a bit deeper through an appreciation of what He has done is a heart that will seek to respond through ascribing all glory to the God of wonders.
The word of God, to be studied for sure. The works of God, also to be studied . . . and pondered . . . and chewed on. And to be a source of pleasure . . . and enjoyment . . . and delight.
Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all Thy works Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in. That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
‘How great Thou art! How great Thou art!”
His works because of grace alone. Our praise for His glory alone.