Your Bible and Your Idols

If Albert Einstein was still alive and I had five minutes to talk to him, Psalm 19 would be a great place to focus the discussion. This powerful poem explains why his search for God in nature was a dead-end (v. 1-6), and points to the only reliable Book that holds answers to life’s most important questions (v. 7-11). Like the scorching Palestinian sun, David had felt the heat and light of God’s law “searching out the hiding places of his soul,” to quote C.S. Lewis.

How appropriate, then, for the closing stanza of the psalm to begin with a rhetorical question meant to arrest the reader’s attention. “Who can discern his errors?” (v. 12). David is now concerned about his “hidden faults,” his “presumptuous sins” that would “have dominion” over him. Only when he allowed the Scriptures to examine his inmost being would he be “blameless” and “innocent of great transgression” (v. 13).

What is the “great transgression” that David feared would dominate his life? I think he’s talking about the BIG ONE here: the sin of idolatry, the sin of putting your trust and reliance for the needs of your life into anyone or anything other than God. David was not only jabbing the ancients who worshipped the sun god (v. 6). He was keenly aware of his own tendency to transfer his trust from the Creator God to rival gods calling for his heart’s affection.

He closes the psalm with a humble prayer to the only true Rock and Redeemer (v. 14) – “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight.” David wanted the truth of God’s law to illuminate the dark corners of his soul and drive from his heart any affection for false gods.

We may not be tempted to worship the sun, but our hearts are just as drawn to any number of idols. We look to material possessions, physical appearance, popularity with peers, financial security, professional accomplishment, and a whole litany of substitutes to meet the deep needs of our souls – instead of finding in our relationship with the Lord all that is necessary “for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

When you read the Scriptures this week, let them be the sun to bring to light cherished idols and sweep them away. Let the scriptures show you the unmatched beauty of the Lord Jesus, who alone satisfies the deepest longings of the human heart.

About Sam Harbin
I am the President of Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA as well as the Chair and Professor of Pastoral Theology.

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