According to the Mall of America website, 40 million people visit the giant shopping center every year. That is more than the combined populations of North and South Dakota, Iowa, and all of Canada! Yet for all of the people who visit the mall each year, I wonder how many people even care about two little shrines in the amusement park. One is located by the Sponge Bob Squarepants roller coaster, while the other is tacked to a wall above the log ride. The shrine by the roller coaster is a representation of a baseball home plate, and the one by the log ride is a stadium seat attached to the wall at the other end of the amusement park. The home plate is the exact spot where the Twins’ home plate at old Metropolitan Stadium laid, and the seat in the wall shows the spot where Twins’ great Harmon Killebrew hit the longest home run in the Met Stadium’s history. Both shrines are not hidden, but if someone doesn’t know they are there, they would either miss them completely, or walk by without having any idea what significance they have.
The Bible is kind of like that. Last Sunday, I led a discussion during the second service on Psalm 19. The first verse is one of the most famous verses not only in the Psalms, but in the whole Bible: “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” The word translated sky in my ESV version of the Bible is fine, but some versions of the Bible use the word “firmament”. The reason some translations use that word is the Psalmist uses a very specific word in verse one. The word hearkens back to Genesis 1 and God’s initial creation of the “firmament”, and it is a very rare word in the Hebrew Bible. It is very meaningful that the sky proclaims God’s handiwork. It is even more meaningful to consider the fact that the Psalmist is using a word that goes back to the very foundation of his faith as he writes a moving piece of poetry about God’s revelation in nature. Sort of like the home plate next to the Sponge Bob Squarepants roller coaster, if one doesn’t know to look, one can miss the significance of an idea or a place.
God has given us a special revelation in his word that is uniquely tied to a covenant people. As we continue our series next week in Psalm 89, it is my hope that we can look at that Psalm and find more ways that the people of Israel worshiped, not only by looking back at its own heritage, but also how the ideas in the Psalm point forward.