Lord’s Day 8: How God Has Revealed Himself

Catechism and Psalter

Here we are once again in our Wednesday series on the Heidelberg Catechism.  In the last Lord’s Day we were introduced to the Apostles’ Creed, the summary of the gospel every Christian must believe.  Lord’s Day 8, our focus for today, briefly explains the structure of the Creed and introduces us to a basic doctrine contained therein: the Trinity.

24 Q.  How are these articles divided?

A.  Into three parts:
God the Father and our creation;
God the Son and our deliverance;
God the Spirit and our sanctification.

25 Q.  Since there is but one God, why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

A.  Because that is how
God has revealed himself in his Word:
these three distinct persons
are one, true, eternal God.

Suggested Songs

We may automatically assume that the Old Testament psalms, written before the incarnation of the Son and the outpouring of the Spirit, contain nothing related to the doctrine of the Trinity.  This notion, though it may be widespread in the Christian church, is downright incorrect.  Today I’d like to consider just three psalms that speak of each Person of the Godhead.

206, “My Soul, Bless the Lord” (Psalm 104)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI)

If you’re looking for a spectacular psalm regarding God’s creation, look no further than Psalm 104. This vivid poem opens with a fitting expression of praise:

My soul, bless the Lord! the Lord is most great,
With glory arrayed, majestic His state;
The light is His garment, the skies are His shade,
And over the waters His courts He has laid.

From this point on, the psalmist roughly follows the story of creation, from the founding of the earth (stz. 2) to the establishment of the waters and dry land (stz. 3) to the creation of plants, birds, and animals (stz. 4-6).

Now without a truly Biblical understanding of the work of the Trinity, what comes next is surprising:

Thy Spirit, O Lord, makes life to abound,
The earth is renewed, and fruitful the ground;
To God ascribe glory and wisdom and might,
Let God in His creatures forever delight.

We ought to remember that the Spirit is first mentioned not in the New Testament but in Genesis 1:2—“And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  Both the Son and the Spirit played an active role in the creation of the world.  Charles Spurgeon goes so far as to make a soteriological connection from Psalm 104:30: “If we read the word spirit as we have it in our version, it is also instructive, for we see the Divine Spirit going forth to create life in nature even as we see him in the realms of grace.”

3, “Wherefore Do the Nations Rage” (Psalm 2)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI, to an alternate tune)

I find it fascinating that just as the Holy Spirit is mentioned as early as Genesis 1:2, Jesus Christ as the Messianic King is explicitly mentioned just one psalm into the Psalter.  While this psalm’s primary meaning applies to the human king of Israel, it is nearly impossible to miss the Christological connection in Psalm 2.  The 1912 Psalter and our own Psalter Hymnal, in fact, capitalize all pronouns in this psalm that refer to the king, cementing this solidly Biblical interpretation.  Furthermore, the Catechism notes that the second section of the Apostles’ Creed focuses on God the Son and our deliverance, a theme also present in the closing lines of Psalm 2.  Here’s the full text:

Wherefore do the nations rage,
And the peoples vainly dream,
That in triumph they can wage
War against the Lord supreme?
His Anointed they deride,
And the rulers plotting say:
“Their dominion be defied,
Let us cast their bonds away.”

But the Lord will scorn them all,
Calm he sits enthroned on high;
Soon His wrath will on them fall,
Angered then He will reply:
“Yet according to My will
I have set My King to reign,
And on Zion’s holy hill
Mine anointed I maintain.”

This the word declared to me,
This Jehovah’s firm decree:
“Thou art My beloved Son,
Yea, I have begotten Thee.
Ask and have Thy full demands,
Thine shall all the heathen be,
Thine the utmost of the lands,
They shall be possessed of Thee.”

Dash them like a potter’s urn,
Thou shalt break them with a rod.
Therefore, kings and judges, learn
Anxiously to serve your God.
Kiss the Son and worship Him,
Lest ye perish in the way;
Blest are all who trust in Him,
Yea, supremely blest are they.

95, “Gracious God, My Heart Renew” (Psalm 51)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI, and at Synod 2012)

While Psalm 51 is a song of confession, it is also a song of redemption and sanctification, as we’ve mentioned before here on URC Psalmody.  In fact, the three sections of Psalm 51 follow the “Guilt-Grace-Gratitude” motif of the Catechism remarkably closely.  Psalter Hymnal 95 versifies the latter half of Psalm 51, which appeals powerfully to the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart:

Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation’s joy impart,
Stedfast make my willing heart.

Sinners then shall learn from me
And return, O God, to Thee;
Savior, all my guilt remove,
And my tongue shall sing Thy love;
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall praise accord.

Not the formal sacrifice
Has acceptance in Thine eyes;
Broken hearts are in Thy sight
More than sacrificial rite;
Contrite spirit, pleading cries,
Thou, O God, wilt not despise.

Prosper Zion in Thy grace
And her broken walls replace;
Then our righteous sacrifice
Shall delight Thy holy eyes;
Free-will offerings, gladly made,
On Thine altar shall be laid.

It’s hard to find more applicable and beautiful words with which to end this post than those from Reginald Heber’s great Trinitarian hymn (Psalter Hymnal 318, again sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI):

Holy, Holy, Holy!  Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth and sky and sea;
Holy, Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!


1 Response to “Lord’s Day 8: How God Has Revealed Himself”

  1. 1 Lord’s Day 9: My God and Father | URC Psalmody Trackback on February 27, 2013 at 7:01 am

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