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God has revealed himself

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series

"The Law of the Lord"

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A central doctrine of biblical Christianity is that God has revealed himself, and he has done so in two ways, both of which we can find in the first chapter of Genesis. The opening phrase of Scripture expresses the first form of God’s revelation: “In the beginning God created.” Creation itself is God’s revelation—it is God revealing certain things to us, which is why we sometimes call this God’s Natural Revelation or God’s General Revelation.

But then verse 3 of Genesis 1 expresses the second form of God’s revelation: “And God said.” And again in verses 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, and 26 of Genesis 1, we find God revealing himself through spoken words. And then in verse 28 after he created Adam and Eve, “God blessed them. And God said to them.” And then in Genesis 6:13, “God said to Noah.” And in Genesis 12, “the Lord said to Abram.” And in Exodus 3, God called to Moses out of the burning bush. And later at the foot of Mt. Sinai, God spoke the words of his law to his people. And as Hebrews 1 tells us, “long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”

So God has revealed himself not only through what he has made, his natural revelation, but also through what he has said, what is sometimes referred to as God’s Special Revelation. And many of these words were written down by holy men as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21), compiled into the Holy Scriptures, which Paul says “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” these Scriptures being “breathed out by God” (2 Tim 3:15–16).

God has revealed himself, and he has done so both through his Natural Revelation—what he has made—and through his Special Revelation—what he has said.

Perhaps one of the most succinct and, indeed, beautiful articulations of these two forms of God’s revelation is found in Psalm 19. This psalm describes both God’s natural and special revelation in a strikingly vivid poem. In fact, C. S. Lewis wrote, “I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.”

Psalm 19 is unique for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its genre. In the Psalter, we might expect to find songs of praise or even songs of lament, but Psalm 19 is neither of those. In fact, it reads more like a Proverb than it does a psalm, which is why it is often referred to as a wisdom psalm. But another unique characteristic is its focus on God’s revelation, his Torah—Law. These unique features are found in only two other psalms in the entire 150, Psalm 1 and Psalm 119. These three psalms are wisdom psalms that focus on God’s revelation.

And so over the next few weeks, I would like to consider what Psalm 19 says about God’s natural revelation and his special revelation, and then notice what it says about the proper responses we should have to God’s revelation. I hope you’ll join me.

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About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.