Our Radiant Center Of Joy

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. Ps 19:6

Introduction: We have been studying the way God reveals his glory to men. In Psalm 19:1-6, the psalmist shows how God speaks without words through what he has made in creation. In 19:7-11, he shows how God speaks through what he has written. It is through his deeds and words we discover and delight in the power and beauty of God. When we respond to what God is saying to us in faith and obedience, our lives find the direction and delight we were created for. That is what Piper points out so eloquently in the following paragraph:     

“The point is this: We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things; and when we trade that treasure for images, everything is disordered. The sun of God’s glory was made to shine at the center of the solar system of our soul. And when it does, all the planets of our life are held in their proper orbit. But when the sun is displaced, everything flies apart. The healing of the soul begins by restoring the glory of God to its flaming, all-attractive place at the center.” –John Piper, “Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ.” p. 21

Exposition: C. S. Lewis once remarked: “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” That is what the psalmist is expressing by using the sun as an expression of God’s commitment to reveal his glory to men. In the same way the sun reveals the glory of God to our sight [1-6], so the Law reveals the glory of God to our heart [7-11]. Just as the sun gives light to our steps so that we can walk in the sunlight with confidence and purpose, so the Law of God gives light so that we can walk in Son-light with eternal certainty and satisfaction.

Ps 19:4-5 “In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion.” The heavens are the canopy that gives the backdrop for the glory of the sun. God has set forth the sun on center stage to speak a clear and powerful message about his glory. Here we see that the sun is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion. What is it about a bridegroom that would teach us something about God? I think it is his joy. For the bridegroom, this is the day he has been waiting for. This is the day his dreams are to be fulfilled. The one he loves will be his wife. All of the pain, struggle, waiting, disappointment, and hurt no longer matter. It is a new day. The beginning of a life-time with the delight of his heart has arrived.

In the same way, every day, when we see the sun, we are reminded of the awesome joy that is ours in Christ. When we place our faith in him, all of the treasures that are in Him are ours. Every day is a new opportunity to experience the joy of that wonderful relationship. The darkness of the night, with its fears and pains must disappear in the presence of the Son. Love defeats loneliness. Light defeats darkness. Beauty beats ugly. Hope dispels fear. Holiness removes sin. Life destroys death.

   “Like a champion rejoicing to run his course.” What is it about a champion who is set to run his course that is like seeing and enjoying God through nature? Is it not the anticipation and excitement we feel when we hear God’s call to pursue him and his glory? A champion does not pull back from the challenge. It is what drives him. Sure there is training and sacrifice and discipline, but that is what he lives for. The gain far outweighs the pain. When we see the sun, it is a reminder that “this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” It will take everything we have. We will be called upon to strip off everything that gets in the way of our passion, but the delight is worth the discipline. Each day begins a new opportunity to see and savor the wonders of God.

That is what Eric Liddell meant when he answered his sister’s complaint about his wasting so much time running across the hills of Scotland. He said, “But Jennie, when I run I feel his pleasure.” That is what a champion feels when he sees the sun and looks through it to the glorious One who created it. If God would lay out such an enormous display of his power for our joy and delight, won’t he do the same kind of thing when he calls to us run the race marked out before us? Whatever he has given us a heart to do for him, won’t he bless us by revealing more of his glory to us? Seeing his beauty and power in creation should inspire us to radical efforts in pursuit of His glory.

That is exactly what happened to Liddell. His love for Christ and his desire to spread that glory compelled him to leave the comforts of England for the challenges of China. There he died in a Japanese prison camp, still running, still serving, with joy in his heart and the smile of God on his life. Not even death could end his dream. The fact that we speak of him today is proof that the Lord will see to it that He is glorified and we are satisfied, as we dare to pursue him in the same way that a champion would run his course. 

Conclusion: The life of faith is a call to respond to the promises of God. If we hold back, we will not experience the blessings we were created to enjoy. Up front it looks risky and costly. On one level it is. But, if by God’s grace, we can see through the fog to the radiance of the Son, we will gladly leave all for the joy of worshipping him. May you discover the joy of pursuing Jesus Christ today with all of your heart. It is worth it!

“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa . . . . Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a forgoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing, when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.” –David Livingstone, December 4, 1857, Cambridge University