It feels like there’s always some kind of voice coming at me at any given minute of every day. Think about this: we watch shows and listen to the news, we scroll our twitter and facebook feeds, we have a variety of friends with a variety of opinions, and we have all the important people in our lives feeding us information. None of these are bad of course. They are what they are. Hopefully, in your case, the people close to you are also voices that encourage, challenge and build you up.
We learn by and are shaped from all the voices in our lives. I think back to by university days and remember the excitement of picking up my assigned books. I would have that initial impression about which book I’d like and which one would be a struggle; which book would have an impact and which book may not. I cherish these books, which you would quickly find out when you see most of them still on the shelves around my office and home.
David, known as King, Prophet and Poet, wrote a number of Psalms, which we read today for inspiration, comfort, a reality check and of course, theology. One of those Psalms is number 19 in the Psalter. It’s a real beauty. One that C.S, Lewis said is the most poetic of all of them, and the best lyrics he’s come across…in the world. An old preacher named Charles Spurgeon said that this psalm was inspired by David’s two favourite books: the book called nature and the book called scripture. From these two books, David formed his theology, his thoughts on God, his worldview. We could say that these were the voices that shaped him.
The first book is non-lyrical. Nature doesn’t need words to speak – creation needs no words to say something. David of course felt and knew this deeply. He allowed the voice of God to shape him through creation. The example he gives in Psalm 19 is none other than the sun. It comes up and goes down, without us making it happen. Everything in our home and in our lives works, moves, functions, because in some way we give it fuel; our cars, our furnaces, our lights, our AC, etc. If we don’t work and make money to pay these bills, all those things will cease to work for us. But the Sun…the Sun…it comes up in the morning, warms us all day, and sets at night, and there is nothing we did to make that happen. Not one thing. This is mind blowing for David…and should be for us as well.
I want to allow that voice in my life; the voice of God’s creation; the words from Nature’s book, that God so eloquently wrote, inspire, shape and mould me.
But there is another book David equally appreciates. He would refer to it as God’s law or precepts or commands. We can call this scripture. David knows that this voice from God, not only has words, but it balances the other voice, the other book (nature). He says that he loves these words from God more than the most precious of gold. David, being a King, had access to what other people didn’t have access to, the best gold he could get his hands on. Yet, he would choose God’s words over this gold every time. Think about your most prized possession or your most valuable asset? David would say that God’s voice in his life, through scripture, is more important, more precious to him than that. Would I? Could I?
Here’s the question for us: what voice is narrating our story? What voice are we allowing to shape us most? There are lots to choose from.
In Genesis, after Adam and Eve sinned, an interesting thing happens, they realize that they are naked. Until then, naked was normal. God shows up and asks, “Who told you that you were naked?” It’s like God said, “Who’s voice have you begun to listen to? And when did my voice become secondary?”
Erwin McMannus (The Artisan Soul) says, “what informs us ‘forms’ us…we must decide what voice will define us and what story we choose to be in – which narrative will guide”.
Psalm 19 is a reminder that David, an honourable King, yet an ordinary man, chose to let God’s voice shape his worldview. He was able to see and hear God in Nature (creation) and in Scripture (words). Together, they were his textbook on discovering God. It’s a good example to follow, with an added New Testament understanding of being part of (a church) community.
Let’s long for God’s voice in the same way, so his words (the audible and non-audible) take precedent and are the ones that shape our lives…today.