Psalm 36 TALK: Knowing God in Our Daily Lives

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

 PSALM 36 TALK:    KNOWING GOD IN OUR DAILY LIVES

INTRODUCTION

 Besides the Bible there are only a handful of books I could refer to that have truly influenced and changed my life. One of these books is a book first published in 1974 by an evangelical preacher and writer named James Packer and the book is called “Knowing God”. In this book Packer sets down what he understands the bible teaches about God and how that applies to our daily lives. In the first chapter Packer answers the question, Why Study God?

His answer is best summoned up by this quote from “Knowing God”,

“We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you”.

 I believe Psalm 36 is about what it means to know God in our daily lives. We have no idea of what prompted David to write it. The inscription simply reads,

(New International Version),

“For the director of music, of David the servant of the Lord”

 This means we know three things about this Psalm, firstly it is a song written for worship in the Temple which was only the Tabernacle in David’s day. Secondly David wrote it and thirdly David describes himself as, “The Servant of the Lord” which means he is not presenting himself as the all-powerful King but rather as Leupold writes,

“A leader and instructor of his people, whom he serves by serving the Lord”.

 The Psalm has three distinct parts which I believe reveal what it means to know God in our daily lives. Some commentators have suggested that this Psalm is similar in theme and concepts to the very first Psalm. This is because both Psalms speak of the way of the wicked and the results of going that way and they also speak of the way of the righteous or as verse 10 says “those who know God” and what that leads to.

 Even though this is true this Psalm goes a lot further than Psalm 1 as the middle section verses 5 to 9 set down a wonderful description of some of the attributes of God.

In this study I hope to explain what the Psalm teaches us about not knowing God and knowing God. What the God who can be known is like and finally how knowing God should influence our daily lives. We will see from the New Testament that in Jesus we have the full and perfect revelation of God and his love and in him we have the promise of life to the full both now and for all eternity.

Before we look at the Psalm I would like to try and explain what the opening words of this Psalm mean when it says,

“An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked”

 Some have said this is also part of the heading of the Psalm and literally means as Duane Smets puts it,

“Transgression Speaks”

David is saying by using the word, “Oracle” that what he is about to say about the workings of the wicked human heart was given to him by divine inspiration and not merely by human reasoning. This heading or opening words should make us sit up and take notice because what is about to be given to us in this Psalm is truly from God himself.

I have divided this Psalm into three sections:

1.     NOT KNOWING GOD (1 – 4)

 2.     THE GOD WHO IS KNOWN (5 – 9)

 3.     KNOWING GOD IN OUR DAILY LIVES (10 – 12)

 

 1.     NOT KNOWING GOD (1 – 4)

 As I said in the opening section David believed God revealed to him a special understanding of the workings of the sinful wicked mind and heart as he calls his Psalm “an oracle” or prophecy.

And what does that special revelation tell us?

It tells us four things about why we as sinful people do not know God:

1.     There is no fear of God (vs. 1)

2.     We have a high and false view of ourselves (vs.2)

3.     Our words and actions are wicked (vs.3)

4.     We plot and plan evil deeds (vs. 4)

 

1.     There is no fear of God (vs.1)

 The second half of verse 1 is quoted by Paul in Romans 3: 18,

“There is no fear of God before their eyes”

 Paul uses this in his great argument for the sinful state of all people. He argues we have all turned away from God and as result do not know or fear God. This is the first point of David’s special revelation of God about the sinful state of man. Even in David’s time the same Godless lives existed as it did in Paul’s day as it does today. Paul spells out what not fearing or having reverence for God leads to in Romans 1: 21 – 25,

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen”.

Once man looked away from God his view of God diminished and he lost sight of God so much so that some say, “I don’t believe in God because I cannot see him”.

2.     We have a high and false view of ourselves (vs.2)

In verse 2 David now spells out what he now understood what not fearing God leads to,

“For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin”

David is saying that sinful fallen people do not see what they are really like. Most people don’t go around saying how bad and sinful they are but rather speak of how good they are or at least how they a not as bad as other people. We are even taught today to always have a positive image of ourselves and people receive training in developing a positive self image.

The bible teaches that even Christian believers must have a sober and real opinion of themselves as Paul says in Romans 12: 3,

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you”.

If we think there is nothing wrong with us and that actually we are pretty good then the need to know or seek to know God diminishes even further.

3.     Our words and actions are wicked (vs.3)

David now says that once we have looked away from God (not fear him) and think more highly of ourselves than we should then we speak wicked and deceitful words. Our words of course are followed by our actions and all this Jesus tells us comes from our hearts. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 15: 19,

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander”.

Once we get involved in more and more Godless behaviour than the sight of God gets dimmer and dimmer and the devil gets more of hold on our hearts and lives.

4.     We plot and plan evil deeds (vs. 4)

 The final verse of what it means to not know God is verse 4 where David paints a picture of sinful man lying in his bed plotting evil deeds. Psalm 1: 1 sees the final stage of the Godless way as, “sitting in the seat of mockers” this I said in my Psalm 1 study means switching “sides and sitting down with (this could mean join forces with) those who oppose God”.

David sees full blown sinful people actually plotting or planning to do evil. I know that often when I go to bed I think about the day that has past and I sometimes start to plan the day ahead and yes I know that sometimes my thoughts or plans are not what God would want me to do. However as a Christian we know that when we start to get tempted to plan sinful deeds we are out of step with God but the person who does not fear God, has an untrue view of themselves and who speaks wicked words is not even considering God in his plans and actions.

Our daily world is full of people living their lives for themselves and the consequences of that can be both frightening and dangerous. Our daily news is full of all kinds of wicked calamities and all this comes about because people do not know God and so James Packers quote rings true,

“We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you”.

 David will not leave us in such a terrible situation as he and James Packer have just described and in the next section we will learn who this God we are blind to is and we will learn what he is really like and this will help us find his way in this dark and seemingly Godless world.

 2.     THE GOD WHO IS KNOWN (5 – 9)

 I mentioned at the start of this study that only a handful of books outside of the bible have truly influenced and changed my life another one of these books is, “The Attributes of God” by Arthur W. Pink. Pink sets down in his book simply and wonderfully the many great attributes of God that are presented in the bible. In Pinks forward to his book he writes,

“The foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture. An unknown God can neither be trusted, served, nor worshipped”.

David must have realised this as well when he penned Psalm 36 nearly three thousand years ago. For David moves from the dark and grubby description of man not knowing God and its consequences to a description of the unknown God who has revealed himself to us.

Unlike Pink in his book “The Attributes of God” David only looks at four attributes of God (Pink sets down 16). We will now look at David’s four attributes of God:

1.     God is Love (vs.5a)

2.     God is faithful (vs.5b)

3.     God is righteous (vs.6a)

4.     God is just (vs.6b)

 

1.     God is Love (vs.5a)

 In verse 5 part A, David writes,

“Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens”

 There is a problem here for us because the Hebrew word for love is “chesed” and our English translation of love does not do justice to the real Hebrew meaning. In Duane Smets sermon on this Psalm he explains the real meaning of the Hebrew word “chesed” this way,

“Constant, loyal, persistent, everlasting, unfailing kindness”

 David says this “chesed” or love reaches the heavens. Smets points out that the furthest star in the heavens is 10 billion light years away and it would take us 322 billion years to get there if we could. David of course did not know that the heavens were that vast but even for him what he saw in the night sky seemed a long way away.

When I was a younger Christian I went on a number of Christmas holidays on what is called a beach mission.

We set up camp close to a beach on the NSW coast -line and ran outreach programs to the children and their families who also camped there. One of the favourite choruses we sang in those days went like this,

 Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the Heaven above;


Deep, deep as the deepest sea is my Savior’s love.


I, though so unworthy, still am a child of His care;


For His Word teaches me that His love reaches me everywhere.

Arthur Pink points out in his book that just as God is infinite so his love is infinite and then he writes,

“So His love is without limit. There is a depth to it which none can fathom; there is height to it which none can scale; there is a length and breadth to it which defies measurement, by any creature- standard”.

 We see the depths and wideness of God’s love in God sending his son to this world to die for our sins on the cross as John 3: 16 says,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

 And as the beach mission chorus says,

I, though so unworthy, still am a child of His care;


For His Word teaches me that His love reaches me everywhere.

2.     God is faithful (vs.5b)

 God’s love is simply amazing and David’s next attribute of God says that this love will never stop or cease because God is faithful. Verse 5b reads,

“Your faithfulness to the skies”

 God will not stop loving us and this is the message of the Gospel that says that even though we are sinners and deserve death God sent Jesus into this world to save sinners by dieing for their sins on the cross. This is the message that changes and transforms lives. In the first section of the Psalm we saw how far away from God we are and how dark life without God really is. Well into this dark world God sent his Son and through him we have both life and light.

God first set down this plan in the Old Testament in the first covenant that David knew and was always referring to one way or another. But this first covenant was but a prelude to the great second covenant, which was established by the death and resurrection of Jesus, which is better described as the fulfilment of the covenant given to Moses after the exodus from Egypt.

Even though Israel often turned away from God and was unfaithful to God and his covenant God never stopped loving them. This is the same God who loves us and he will not stop loving us because his love and faithfulness is endless.

3.     God is righteous (vs.6a)

In verse 6 A David speaks of another attribute of God, namely his righteousness,

“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains”

 God is totally holy and without sin and this is as sure as the very mountains are unmovable. Mountains have some of the most ferocious weather in the world yet no matter how hard and fast the wind and rain might hit them they will not move.

David seems to be giving us a big contrast to what we are like in verses 1- 4 and what God is like in verses 5 – 9. We are sinful and unreliable but God is righteous and totally reliable. We plot and plan wickedness but God plots and plans love and righteousness.

The picture of God and his love is amazing. He sent Jesus to die for our sins, which is something many people find just unbelievable. I heard an atheist named Richard Dawkins say in a debate with John Lennox a renown Christian scholar that he cannot believe in the God of the bible because he finds it simply laughable to think that,

“The creator of the universe couldn’t think of a better way to rid this world of sin then to come to this spec of cosmic dust and have himself tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself”.

This is a crude and twisted way of describing the Christian Gospel but yet it also captures something of the true magnitude of what God has done for us. Yes even those of us who believe in what God has done are amazed by it but to dismiss it only reveals that our view of God is small and limited by the bounds of human reasoning and not by the bounds of the great love and righteousness of the God of the bible.

4.     God is Just (vs.6b)

 Verse 6b says,

“Your justice like the great deep. O Lord you preserve both man and beast”

 Justice leupold says could also be translated as Judgement and he argues that the image of the “great deep” could be a reference to the flood in Noah’s time when God brought judgement upon the evil world of that time. This could explain the words that follow,

“O Lord you preserve both man and beast”

 Meaning that God did not wipe out man and beast totally but through the ark saved Noah, his family and a representative of all animals. Jesus also revealed that God cares for both man and all animal life when he said in Matthew 6: 25 – 27,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 

Our world deserves to be wiped out again and God will judge this world again one day but God is not just a God of wrath and judgement he is also, as we have seen, a God of love and faithfulness. Pink makes this startling claim in his book “The Attributes of God”,

“The great God that could wink all his enemies into destruction, bears with them, and is at daily cost to maintain them”

 This is what Peter is saying in 2 Peter 3: 9,

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is the patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.

 In the cross we see both God’s love and God’s justice or wrath come perfectly together.

Jesus takes on himself our sins, which he does because he loves us and God punishes sin by his death for us. This is what Dawkins just cannot get that the creator of the universe can pay for our sins on the cross by punishing and torturing his only Son. But this is how far God was prepared to go for us and in this we see the light at the end of the tunnel of this fallen dark world we live in.

THE PRECIOUSNESS OF GOD’S LOVE (7 – 9)

In verses 7 to 9 David returns to talk again about “chesed” or as the NIV bible translates, “unfailing love”. Now he makes the bold claim,

“How precious is your unfailing love”

 David seems to be comparing God’s love to an expensive jewel like a sparkling perfectly cut diamond as Duane Smets calls it.

But how precious is this special and wonderful love of God?

David gives us four analogies to try to answer this question.

These analogies are:

1.     Refuge under the shadow of God’s wings (vs. 7b)

2.     An abundant feast of food and drink (vs. 8)

3.     A great fountain of life (vs. 9a)

4.     A light that gives light (vs. 9b)

 

1.     Refuge under the shadow of God’s wings (vs. 7b)

 The image of God being like a great bird who we can shelter under appears in a number of places in the bible I first came across it in Psalm 17: 8,

 “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings”

 Which I explained is David asking God to come very close to him and provide him with protection and help in his battle with King Saul while on the run from him. Moses used the same expression in his great song at the end of his life in Deuteronomy 32 : 10 – 11,

“In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft”.

 Here David writes in verse 7b,

“Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings”

 This is how precious God’s love is he gives us shelter and protection from the many dangers of this life-like a large bird offers protection to its young chicks with the covering of its warm and gentle wings.

2.     An abundant feast of food and drink (vs.8)

 Then David speaks of how precious God’s love is by saying in verse 8,

“They feast on the abundance of your house”

 People of all cultures throughout history have always marked special occasions with some kind of feast. From birthday celebrations, marriage and remembering past special achievements people of every age have got together and feasted. God’s love here is so precious it is like having a great feast from God’s endless storehouse in heaven.

This of course is one of the pictures both Jesus and the book of revelation gave of heaven. In Matthew 8: 10 – 13, Jesus says these remarkable words when he sees the simple but real faith of the Roman Centurion,

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

 Heaven then will be like going to a great eternal feast and as a lover of food myself I find that image very attractive.

But David does not just stop at food he goes on to speak of drink as well. He says,

“You give them drink from your river of delights”

 Some commentators see the terms “river of delights” and the one that follows “the fountain of life” as referring to Eden. Kidner refers to both Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22. Both these passages are an illusion to the restoration of the rivers that flowed out of Eden, Genesis 2: 10 – 14. This of course is a picture of the completion of salvation to man and the earth when we will be with God in heaven. Jesus teaches in John 4: 13 – 14 that he offers us now life-giving water,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 

This is of course is the promise of the nourishment all Christians have in the Holy Spirit who comes to us when we first have truth faith in him.

3.     A great fountain of life

 God’s unfailing love is now like a great fountain of life.

“For with you is the fountain of life” (vs. 9a)

 As I have already said this image probably originates in the concept of the rivers of Eden, which God caused to flow out of the Garden of Eden.

God’s love is the source of all true nourishing life and David is probably again making a great comparison with life with God compared to life without God which we saw in verses 1 to 4.

Life with God brings joy and nourishment, which God supplies from heaven for all those who know God and have faith in him.

4.     A light that gives light

 Finally the preciousness of God’s unfailing love is like a light that gives light, 9b,

“In your light we see light”

 At the start of this Psalm we saw that sinful man’s eyes are closed to God and therefore, spiritually speaking mankind is in the dark. Now David says that through God’s unfailing love God offers light that gives light. We experience physically every day of our lives what this image is about. Every night the great light in the sky seems to go out and we are in darkness. However every morning the sun comes up and we can see again without the aid of man-made lights. For us the sun is the light that gives light.

Spiritually God’s love is the light that gives light that is why Jesus says in John 8: 12,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life”

 Without the bible and particularly Jesus mankind is in the dark not knowing God and not able to find they’re way in this life. Jesus is like the great sun rising in the morning to show how much God loves us. I taught scripture in high schools for five years when I was a Youth worker many years ago and students often challenged me to show them God who they believed did not exist. I learnt quickly that the best thing I could do was put in their hands a copy of God’s word. I purchased from the Bible Society brightly covered copies of Marks Gospel in an easy to read modern translation, which I handed out to students in my High School scripture classes and from that I sought to introduce them to Jesus who is God’s great light that gives light.

So we come to the end of David’s presentation of the God who is known and David now turns to prayer in the final section to bring the first two sections together and we will learn how we can continue to know God in our daily lives.

3.     KNOWING GOD IN OUR DAILY LIVES (10 – 12)

The final three verses of this Psalm are a prayer where David pulls together the first two sections of this Psalm. I have broken each of these verses into three sub headings:

1.     Live in the light of God’s Love (vs. 10)

2.     Live not fearing the wicked (vs. 11)

3.     Live with a eye on the future that is coming (vs. 12)

 

1.     Live in the light of God’s Love (vs. 10)

 It has been pointed out that David seems to be praying for something theologically incorrect because he is asking for God to continue his love when he has already said in verse 8 that God’s love and faithlessness is limitless and never ends.

But I think David is actually asking that those who know God not give up knowing and experiencing his love,

“Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart”

 David knew very well what it was like to look away from God and his love particularly when he lusted after Bathsheba, committed adultery and then murder to cover it up. He fell to sin and was not living in the light of God’s love. It was a hard and painful road back but it also taught David how vast God’s love and mercy actually is. In his prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 written probably soon after Nathan’s disclosure of his sins he writes,

“Have mercy on me. O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” Psalm 51: 1

 If we have come to know God through Christ we need to live our daily lives in the light of his love and word. We need to look away from sinful ways and seek God’s righteousness. This is something we will continually battle with but in battling with it we will grow and change as Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.

 I discovered the other day a helpful practical guide to how we can live in the light of God’s love and word and grow. It was published on the “NET” by Campus Crusaders for Christ USA and composed by Bill Bright and Bill lists 5 principles of how we can mature in Christ i.e. “continue in God’s love”

 The five principles are:

  1. We must study God’s word
  2. We must pray
  3. We must fellowship with other Christians
  4. We must witness for Christ
  5. We must obey God

2.     Live not fearing the wicked (vs. 11)

David started his Psalm speaking about how the wicked heart and mind operates. He knew from personal experience that the wicked could and did attack him as the “Lords Anointed”.

David had enemies in and outside of Israel but always God protected him. In his prayer at the end of this Psalm he asks,

“May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away”

 David is asking that his enemies who were God’s enemies not tramping him down under foot or push him away. These are ancient battle images as battles in the ancient world were basically massive hand-to-hand combats where opponents sought to push each other down and once down thrust a spear or sword into them often as they held them down with their foot.

The New Testament says that we are actually all involved in a great spiritual battle, Ephesians 6: 10 – 12,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

Note that Paul says we should not be fearful or weak if we are trusting in the Lord we are strong in him and in his mighty power. We should not let the devil and his schemes have his way but as James 4: 7 says,

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.

 

3.     Live with an eye on the future that is coming (vs. 12)

In the final verse David has an eye on the future fate of the wicked, all those who have not turned to God and this is what that eye of faith sees,

“See how the evildoers lie fallen – thrown down, not able to rise”

 David knew that most evildoers thought they had got away with the wicked things they had planned and carried out. But he knew that in the end Judgment would come to them all and they will all fall before God and not rise.

The first sermon I ever preached was based on the great passage in Philippians 2: 1- 11. In my sermon I envisaged a great ladder or stairway from heaven from which Christ took a number of great steps down to die for us on the cross. But then Christ ascended the ladder or stairway back into heaven as verse 9 reads,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name”.

 From there one day in the future versus 10 and 11 tell us what Christ will do,

 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

 One day everyone will bow the knee to Jesus the difference is those who know God and seek to live as he wants will be bowing in worship and praise but those who have not acknowledged him in this life will bow and acknowledged him as Lord with great wailing and gnashing of teeth.

We should live our lives with this in mind the second coming of Jesus is both a great hope for us and a spur to live a holy life.

Just contemplate this question,

How would you feel if on the day the Lord returned you were actually committing a sin and were out of step with God?

CONCLUSION

 So we have seen what it means to not know God and know God and how that can transform our lives. To not know God is to turn away from him and go our own way but to know God is to take seriously the presentation of God in the bible and let that guide and change our lives. May we not disregard the study of God through the Bible as James Packer put it but may we read, mediate and inwardly digest its contents and come to that life changing experience of Knowing God through Christ?

Read the song inspired by the study of this Psalm

 

TO KNOW YOU

 

To know you is to fear you

And to fear you is to know you

For I know I have turned away from you

And I want you to forgive me

For your forgiveness is your gift

So inspired by your love I come

Yes I come to you.

 

 To know you is to see you

And to see you is to know you

For your love is so great and beautiful

For your love reaches the heavens

And your faithfulness the skies

So inspired by your love I come

Yes I come to you.

 

 To know you is to realize

That your love is so precious

Like a priceless jewel is your love

And you feed us in abundance

And give us life and light

So inspired by your love I come

Yes I come to you.

 

 To know you is to love you

And to love you is to know you

For you’ve given your Son to die for us

And I want you to change me

For to change me is to want you

So inspired by your love I come

Yes I come to you.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PART TWO NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATION OF PSALM 36

 As I said in this study already part of Psalm 36 is quoted in the New Testament in Romans 3: 18 and I referred to the fact that Paul used this verse to speak of the general nature of sin for all mankind. In this section I want to look at three New Testament passages that touch on what is called the revelation of God, which I think this Psalm features throughout.

People often ask, “How can we know or see God? The bible’s answer to this is if you see Jesus you see God and I will develop this concept through the three New Testament passages I have chosen.

1. JESUS IS THE WAY TO GOD (John 14: 6)

 Knowing and seeing God is not easy and I believe this is so because of our sin. Sin has blinded our eyes to God and this blindness even can be seen in the disciples of Jesus.

John 14 speaks of two Disciples of Christ namely Thomas and Philip. Both these men spent three intense years with Jesus yet at the end of those three years on the night before Jesus was crucified both men asked questions that reveal they too struggled with knowing and seeing God.

We will look at each of the questions these men asked Jesus and the answer Jesus gave them.

First we will look at Thomas’s and his question that concerns the way to God.

1.     Show us the Way

Thomas is often called “doubting Thomas” because later after Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, Jesus appeared to the disciples. Thomas was not with the disciples when Jesus appeared and when told about Jesus he said he would not believe Jesus had risen unless he saw him for himself and was able to put his fingers into the nail wounds of Jesus. Jesus did appear again and Thomas was there this time and when he saw Jesus he dropped to his knees in faith and worship.

This time Thomas asks the question, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?

Jesus has just told the disciples that he is going back to God his father in heaven and will prepare a place for them there and will come back to take them to that place.

Thomas is obviously confused and lacking faith as his question indicates he has not followed what Jesus was saying and in fact Jesus has been teaching them for three years about his true mission on earth but again Thomas did not seem to get it.

Jesus answer is one of the most quoted sayings of Jesus and also has caused a lot of controversy for Christians who have quoted it.

Verse 6, reads,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

 Jesus answer is very clear that he and he alone make’s the way to God for fallen humanity. He uses three terms to make this clear, Way, Truth and Life and then makes it even clearer with the statement, “No one comes to the Father except through me”.

 What is Jesus saying when says he is “the way and the truth and the life”

 Lets look at each concept:

The Way

 This could be translated “Road” or “Path” and Jesus is saying he is making the road to God. He, note, is not pointing to the road to God, prophet or teacher but he is the road or path to God. In the book of Hebrews in chapter 12 verse 2 we read,

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

 This verse sees Jesus as the trail -blazer who makes the way back to God possible by his death and resurrection and when we look to Jesus we are following him into heaven. This is what I believe Jesus is saying when he says, “I am the way”.

 The Truth

 Jesus life and teaching contain as Albert Barnes says,

“The most complete and perfect representation of the things of the eternal world that has been or can be presented to man”.

 Jesus embodied God’s word or truth to mankind (John 1:14) and in John 8: 31 – 32 he tells us,

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

The disciples were told on the same night Jesus said he was the truth that he would give them the Holy Spirit who will,

“teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” John 14: 26

 A little later he made this point even clearer in John 16: 12 – 14,

 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you”.

 In fact the New Testament is simply the life and teaching of Jesus recorded and explained and the letters are Jesus teaching applied to certain early church situations.

The Life

Jesus then says he is the life, which means that the only way we can experience true spiritual life is by trusting and believing in him. He not only provides life after death but full and abundant life now as he indicated in John 10: 10,

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.

 We are spiritually dead in our sinful state and only Jesus can raise us from the dead to give us eternal life as John 11: 25 says,

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die”.

 The only Way to God

 Jesus then makes the starting claim that,

No one comes to the Father except through me”.

This statement of Jesus has caused great controversy down through the ages and Christians have been called bigots and narrow-minded people when they have quoted this verse especially in the context of other religious faiths.

I do believe whole heartedly in what this verse says but I think it is not a act of love to go to a Muslim say and tell them we have the only way to God as Christians. There are many other things we could say that would help them find the truth besides quoting John 14: 6.

However there might come a time when we will need to refer to this when we are speaking to people from other faiths. I remember being held up in the street by an aggressive member of the Hare Krishna faith in the late 1970’s. This Hare Krishna asked me to donate money to her to help young people get of drugs and find God. I told her I would not give her any money and she persisted even stronger when I refused and when she found out I was a full-time Christian youth worker, She said “don’t you want young people to get off drugs and find God”? I had to say I was sure she could help young people get off drugs but so far as helping them find God she could not help them because Jesus made it clear when he said that he was,

“The way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

 She did not accept my answer quietly and followed me up the street yelling out a lot of nasty and insulting things at me.

Jesus is the only way because of who he is and what he alone could do. No other religious leader claimed to be The Son of God or God in the flesh. No other religious leader rose from the dead after giving his life to forgive his follower’s sins.

The uniqueness of who Jesus is and what he did makes it possible for him to make this unique claim.

2.     JESUS IS THE WAY TO SEE GOD (JOHN 14: 8 – 11)

 The second question asked in this passage comes from the disciple named Philip who figured in a couple of other famous incidents in John’s Gospel. He is the one who brought Nathanael to Jesus in John chapter 1. Jesus tested him about how 5,000 people could be fed in John 6. He also is the one who brought Greeks to Jesus in John 12. It is thought that Philip probably spoke Greek because like Andrew and Peter he came from Bethsaida a noted Greek town in the Galilee area.

Now here he asks a puzzling question after Jesus adds to John 14: 6,

“If your really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (verse 7)

 Philip’s question is, “Show us the father and that will be enough for us”? (verse 8)

 As I said before Philip has been with Jesus for at least three years. He has heard Jesus claim oneness with his father in heaven and yet he asks this question. I think this shows us that it is not easy for anyone to see or accept the unique claims of Jesus. It is only when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives to open our hearts and minds to the truth that this revelation can become clear to us. As Jesus later that night taught them in John 17: 7 – 11,

“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned”.

 Jesus now makes it clear to Philip and to us how we can see and know God in verses 9 – 11,

“Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves”.

 Jesus is saying, “you want to see God”, “You want to know how to know God” then simply look at me for I am God’s perfect revelation. Jesus makes it clear God has not left us in the dark he chose 2,000 years ago to come to this world to make it clear both who he is and what he is like.

Jesus only did the miracles he did to show us he was not just a man but rather a member of the Godhead, the creator of all things and the amazing thing is he came not just to say, “here I am this is what I am like”. No he came to make a way back to God for lost and fallen mankind and he did this by dieing for us on the cross.

3.     JESUS IS GOD COME IN THE FLESH (John 1: 1 – 14)

 It is interesting that the Gospel of John has no birth of Jesus story like Matthew and Luke but like Mark John omits this. John however does speak about the incarnation but from a cosmic perspective. He goes right back to creation itself to start the story of Jesus coming to this world.

John wants us to learn who Jesus really is right from the start of his Gospel and he wants us to understand why he came as well.

I would to draw four main points out of this passage.

1.     Jesus is the word of God (1 – 5)

2.     Jesus is the light of God  (6 – 9)

3.     Jesus is the way back to God (10 – 14)

4.     Jesus is God come in the flesh (14)

 

1.     Jesus is the word of God (1 -5)

 John starts his Gospel like the first verse of the Bible; Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning” Only John is going back before the beginning of the earth by saying that before the world and the universe was made existed “the word”. John 1: 14 tells us that this word is non other than Jesus himself,

“The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”

 So Jesus is the word who John tells us, “was with God”, and this word made all things. Genesis 1 presents God speaking and things are created, Genesis 1: verse 3,

 “And God said, let there be light, and there was light”.

 So this speaking was actually Jesus in action making all things.

Verses 3 – 5 speak of Jesus work of creation mentioning particularly life and light.

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.

 This idea of God being life and light is also in Psalm 36: 9,

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light”

 So the first thing I want to say is Jesus is uniquely qualified to show us God because before he became man he was one with God in heaven.

2.     Jesus is the light of God (6 – 9)

 In this section John introduces us to the unique ministry of John the Baptist who had the job according to verse’s 7 and 8,

“He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light”.

 John wants us to understand how Jesus came to reveal God to us so even here he speaks of Jesus as “the true light that gives light to every man”.

 The thing I want to emphasize here is that even though we are in the dark about God Jesus came as the light of the world to reveal God to us and as he says in John 8: 12,

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life”.

 3.     Jesus is the way back to God (10 – 14)

 John now introduces the reason why Jesus came; his mission on earth was,

Verses 11 and 12,

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God”.

 Even his clash and rejection by most of the Jews of his own time is mentioned in these opening verses of Johns Gospel.

The point here is that through Jesus we not only see what God is like we also learn how we can come to know God in our lives experiencing new spiritual birth. This is something John will develop further in John chapter 3.

4.     Jesus is God come in the flesh (14)

Finally John makes it clear who Jesus actual is in a beautiful and profound picture of Christ and his coming to this world in verse 14,

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

The words, “made his dwelling” could be translated “pitched his tent” and wonderfully describes what God did in sending Jesus to this world. Jesus took on human form and got intimately involved in this life. This involvement led him to the cross where he willingly gave up his life for us.

No other religious faiths proclaim anything like this and as I said in the study of Psalm 36 atheists like Richard Dawkins find this idea that the creator of the universe came to this world to rescue sinful man outlandishly ridiculous. As outlandishly ridiculous it might seem it is the truth and Jesus will prove it to be true by the many miracles he performed and especially by the greatest miracle of them all his resurrection from the dead.

My final point is we see God perfectly through the person of Jesus and not only do we see God through him but we can come to know God through him and him alone.

PRAYER:

Father in heaven we want to thank you for sending Jesus to this world to both reveal to us who you really are and to die for our sins on the cross. We thank you for your love, which inspires us to live the way you want us to live. May we not go back to the darkness of sin but may you help us fight against the temptations of the evil one and know your love reigning in our hearts unto you come again to take us home with you, In Jesus Name we pray this Amen.