Psalm 19: A Blueprint for Instilling the Wonder of God in the Hearts of our Children

Devotional, Parenting, The Gospel, Worship

My wife and I had the great privilege of recently attending a Paul Tripp parenting conference in Seattle. I love how Paul (I’m using his first name because we sat in the front row and chatted with him a few times. I think that qualifies us as homeboys.) emphasizes the family as a “theological community,” a place where the realities of the God in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28) are constantly at the forefront of conversation, activities, and decisions.  Parents are to actively seek to impart  the knowledge of God to their children (Ephesians 6:4) rather than passively hoping that the Spirit will move within them apart from external means.  Some of the sweetest moments of parenting I have enjoyed with my three children have been moments wherein I have sought to be faithful to this command, moments where I have taken one of my sons or my daughter up in my arms and wondered together with that small child at the glory of our big God.  In these moments, the passage of Scripture I have continually returned to with them is Psalm 19.  In this post, I’d like to take a few minutes to show how this Psalm functions as a blueprint for instilling the wonder of God in the hearts of our children.

Let’s start with the text:

The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech,

and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words,

whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,

which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

and its circuit to the end of them,

and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

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.

Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

 Two Types of Revelation

Psalm 19 is considered a classic text for making the theological distinction between two types of revelation.  Notice that while the whole Psalm deals with God revealing Himself to man, there is an interesting thematic divide between verses six and seven.  The first part of the Psalm deals with God revealing Himself through  His creation, while the second part deals with God revealing Himself through His Word.  These two types of revelation are usually referred to “general” and “special” revelation.

According to Psalm 19, we receive this general revelation when we soak in the beauty of the created world around us.  The language actually used is that the created world is pouring out speech.  And the speech it is pouring out is not just general good vibrations or Gaia Momma voodoo, it is declaring the very glory of God.  It is therefore impossible to live in this world without the knowledge of the true and living God.  The revelation of Him is all around us, and as creatures made in His image we are ourselves a part of that revelation as well.  Every breath we breathe and every thought we think testify to us that God is and that God is glorious.

While it is extremely important to give proper due to general revelation, it is also extremely important to recognize its limitations.  While verses 1-6 of Psalm 19 are full of the revealed glory of God in creation, it is crucial to note that they are utterly devoid of anything redemptive.  Yes, it is impossible to live in this world without the knowledge of the true and living God, but Romans 1:18 tells us that we all suppress this truth in unrighteousness.  Left on our own we will simply deny and ignore the God and the glory that the heavens declare to us.

The remedy to this sad situation is found in verses 7-11.  Here we find redemption, not through the general revelation of creation, but through the special revelation of the Word.  It is the law, the precepts, the testimony, it is the Word of God which the Spirit uses to seal redemption within us- reviving the soul, enlightening the eyes, rejoicing the heart!  Notice even the very name of God used changes in verse seven to the covenant name- the LORD Yahweh.  This is the name usually used in the Bible in redemptive moments of direct relation between God and man.

Parenting and Psalm 19

But this is supposed to be a post about parenting.  Specifically, it is supposed to be about using Psalm 19 to instill the wonder of God in the hearts of our children.

Our youngest children cannot understand all of the Biblical concepts involved in the gospel.  They can, however, understand the glory of God in His world.  In fact, they were created to receive this revelation.  How sweet it is to hear little children singing

This is my Father’s world, 

and to my listening ears 

all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres. 

This is my Father’s world: 

I rest me in the thought 

of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.

Even the littlest  ones the Lord had entrusted us with can begin to learn the themes of this song.  Just yesterday I took my three year old in my arms and we looked out over the frost covered baseball fields and the snow capped mountains we can see from our kitchen table and I whispered into his ear God did this.  God made this world.  God made this beautiful.  Loving, structured, Biblical parenting can teach them that this is not their world, nor even their parent’s world, this is their Father’s world.

As our children grow in knowledge and understanding our progress through the Psalm can grow as well.  Having instilled into them the wonder of God in his created world we can bring them to the wonder of God in his written Word.  We can show them that the same God who created the rocks and trees and skies and seas, wrote them a whole book.  We can open that book and teach them those central gospel truths; the character and attributes of this perfect creator God, the depths and destruction that disobedience and sin has wrought, and that God loved sinners like us so much that he became a man to save men- that by virtue of the perfect life, the sin canceling death, and the grave conquering resurrection of Jesus we can be with our God forever in heaven.

This is the trajectory which the Psalm itself follows.  After considering the glory of God revealed in creation, and then moving on to the redemptive message of the written Word, the psalmist is turned inward.  He is convicted of sin and cries out to God.  He ends his song in humble reliance on the LORD his rock and redeemer for salvation.  Notice again these themes in the last three verses of Psalm 19:

Who can discern his errors? 

Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; 

let them not have dominion over me! 

Then I shall be blameless, 

and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart 

be acceptable in your sight, 

O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

And all we who have been entrusted with the care of precious little ones cry out as well- let the words of our children’s mouths and the meditations of their hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord.  Be their rock and their redeemer.  May our children be overwhelmed with Your glory displayed in Your creation, may that sense of wonder carry them to treasure your Word, and may they cry out to You as the psalmist did.  May the cross of Jesus be their only hope.  May they find in you true deliverance from the dominion of sin and true blamelessness on account of Him- the joys of being found in Christ.  We pray these things in His name, Amen.

(by: Nicolas Alford)

One thought on “Psalm 19: A Blueprint for Instilling the Wonder of God in the Hearts of our Children

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