Knowing the Artist

Psalm 19 is one of my favorite psalms. Among scholars it’s known as a wisdom psalm as it focuses on the particular topic of revelation (like Psalm 1, and Psalm 119). The central point of the Psalm is to remind God’s people that their God is distinctly the Almighty Creator. The one who has promised to take care of them is not just any god, or an impersonal force. The God of Israel is the Maker and Perfecter of all.

Secondary to this is the point that you can not only know about the Creator, but you can also know the Creator personally. This happens through revelation.

At the heart of revelation is the idea that God reveals himself to the world. He’s not hidden. God wants to be known. While he is beyond human comprehension and wisdom, he still communicates himself to us. We too are built with an innate desire to be known by others. Who knows you?

The Bible distinguishes between two kinds of revelation: (1) general revelation, and (2) special revelation. It is around these two types of revelation that Psalm 19 is structured as a poem. Verses 1–6 speak of general revelation, and verses 7–14 speak of special revelation. General revelation is the way that God reveals himself in the world through nature. Do you see the sky?; the power and consistency of the sun? The majesty of creation points to the Creator. How do you know that God exists, that he is good, orderly, intelligent, and creative? Just pay attention to the creation.

There’s a problem, though. People can only know about God through general revelation. God  wants more than that. He doesn’t want for people to just know about Him. He wants to be known personally. General revelation is intended to point people towards personal relationship, a unique bond with the Creator.

In May I visited a friend in Moscow where he took me to an art gallery (Tretyakov Gallery) where I encountered some of the best art I’ve ever seen. Absolutely amazing. The most famous painting there is the portrait of Alexander Pushkin (beloved poet of Russia) by Orest Kirpensky (also there is the famous painting of Leo Tolsoy by Ivan Kramskoy). I was awstruck by the mastery and creative talent of the art. Sheer brilliance. The colors, the tones, the attention to detail, the perfection of the lines, the complex emotions accurately depicted in body language and facial expressions; it was amazing.

I could tell a lot about the artists by observing their work. A lot of the artists had even done self-portraits. I wanted the portraits to come alive so I could talk to them! Needless to say, most of the artists are dead.

The Creator isn’t dead. You can talk to him. Not only that, but he’s interested in you as your Creator. He invented you, he designed you, and knit you together. Psalm 139:19 says, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

There’s a big difference between knowing about someone and actually knowing someone. When you know someone, their personhood is shaped by you and yours by them. There is a dynamic, character-shaping interchange that occurs when people know one another. A bond is made. You can upload and download to one another. You become a part of one another. God wants to be a part of you and you him.

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