Psalm 111:2

Sermon preached on August 11, 2013 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Since it's opening in 1874 the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England has been the place where many extraordinary discoveries in Physics have taken place. Its history of innovation is great. Cavendish professors have completely changed our understanding of the physical world. They discovered the first electron. The same was true of the neutron. The lab laid the foundations for the discovery of quantum mechanics in the 1920s. It also was instrumental in laying the groundwork that led to the determination of the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule by Francis Crick and James Watson in the 1950's. Of course those are just some of the highlights of the discoveries of that great lab. What's interesting is for our purposes is that at the entrance to the old Cavendish lab the words of our text stand above the great oak door. The words are carved in Latin. The verse was put there at the instigation of the first Cavendish Professor, James Clark Maxwell. That's not surprising because 140 years ago the Bible and Christianity were held in high esteem in Britain. But what is surprising is that they are also over the entrance to the new lab that was opened in 1973. Andrew Briggs, a PhD student at the time, was so impressed with the words above the old lab that he suggested that the words be put above the new entrance, only that this time they be inscribed in English. Cavendish Professor A. B. Pippard put the proposal to the Policy Committee. He was sure they would veto the suggestion but to his surprise, they approved it. So the inscription in English on the entrance to the new lab is.

"The works of the Lord are great,
sought out of all them that have pleasure therein."

That's amazing. In spite of all the unbelief and skepticism in our society, there are some scientists and academics who still recognize that God created all things and that by studying these things were are merely thinking God's thoughts after Him. They are merely discovering the treasures that God put there.

This verse has been called God's charter for the scientist and artist. It's a wonderful verse. It's one that we should think about every day. When Professor Maxwell put that above the entrance in the 1870's he wanted the people who entered to be cognizant of this great truth. It's one of the truths that can be greatly helpful to us in our daily lives. Moses told the Israelites to take the commandments of God, and, (Deuteronomy 6:7-9)

"Talk about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes
of your houses and on your gates."

The truth of our text is like that. It is something that we should bring to mind as we go about our daily lives. As human beings, we should not be, as Psalm 32:9 says,

"like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding…"

Rather, as we live our lives, our text tells us that

we should be pondering the works of the Lord.

It says,

"Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them."

The second part of the verse is a little difficult. It can be understood at least two ways. First, it could be understand that God's works are sought out for all their delights. Or it could be understood as our NIV renders it, that those who delight in God's works ponder them. Charles H. Spurgeon writes, (The Treasury of David)

"Delitzsch reads the passage, 'Worthy of being sought after in all their purposes, "and this also is a grand truth, for the end and design which God hath in all that he makes or does is equally admirable with the work itself. The hidden wisdom of God is the most marvelous part of his works, and hence those who do not look below the surface miss the best part of what he would teach us. Because the works are great they cannot be seen all at once, but must be looked into with care, and this seeking out is of essential service to us by educating our faculties, and strengthening our spiritual eye gradually to bear the light of the divine glory. It is well for us that all things cannot be seen at a glance, for the search into their mysteries is as useful to us as the knowledge which we thereby attain."

What are the works of the Lord that we are to ponder?

The works of the Lord refer to God's works of creation—the things in the heavens and the earth, and also to His deeds in guiding and preserving His people.

The Hebrew word is used in both senses in the Bible. For example, in Psalm 8:3 the Psalmist wrote,

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…"

That refers to God's work of creation. We see the same thing in Psalm 19:1 which says,

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

The works of the Lord are His creation. I think that's the primary sense in which the words over the door of the Cavendish Lab are understood.

But the Hebrew word also refers to God's works of providence—His works of preserving and protecting His people. We see this in Psalm 66. It says, (verses 2–8)

"Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!
Say to God, 'How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies cringe
before you. All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.'
Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man's behalf!
He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him. He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.
Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise
be heard; he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping."

God's deeds there are His works of salvation and preservation—how He opened the Red Sea for the Israelites and faithfully preserved them.

So I ask you,

do you to take time to ponder the works of God like you should?

Our world is busy. Our schedules are busy. We can fill up the day without taking time to think about the works of God.

Not only that but the world wants us to be blind to the works of God. If you watch a nature show on TV you'll find that they never refer to God, rather they'll refer to things that don't exist, idols like, "Mother Nature", "Mother Earth". They'll talk about how 'evolution' has done this or that—doing everything they can to take your mind away from the greatness of God.

Don't buy into that. Every day open your eyes to the greatness of God's works.

Isn't part of the reason that we are so ungrateful to God because we haven't studied His providences toward us? Isn't part of the reason that our faith is so weak because we haven't pondered the works of God?

The Hebrew word that is translated, 'pondered' means to 'seek with care', 'to study and interpret', 'to investigate'. We are to be thinking on these things for they show us things about God—His power, His greatness, His love and care for His people. These are things that, if we took them to heart, would be a great blessing to us.

Do you ponder God's creation? There are such wonders there. Jesus' great power is displayed in His creation. Creation is magnificent. The universe that God has created is incredible. Consider the galaxies that are in it—how they are flying through space, expanding at ever increasing speeds—that's incredible. The vast distances, measured in light years, show us the power of God. Yet, just to take one of those galaxies, like our Milky Way, and consider the stars, the black holes and planets that make it up. It's incredible. Each of these things are so glorious—that each of them would take a lifetime of study to do it justice—and yet within each of them there are subdivisions that would take other lifetimes. Consider our solar system—the sun. It's absolutely fascinating—the nuclear reactions that occur there, the solar flares, the solar wind it gives off. Incredible. Consider Saturn, with the beauty of its rings. Consider the earth—with its oceans, its land and gardens. Consider the flowers and trees. Such incredible beauty. Such variety. Such attention to detail.

Or consider the microscopic world, molecules, atoms, etc. etc. Think of DNA. Think of the human body. Think of how things live. How fascinating it all is.

Or consider things like mathematics, physics, chemistry. People speak about the beauty of mathematics. Paul Erdős, the great Hungarian mathematician, spoke of 'The Book', an imaginary book in which God had written down the best and most elegant proofs for mathematical theorems. Erdős was an atheist and lecturing in 1985 he said,

"You don't have to believe in God, but you should believe in The Book."

That's incredible isn't it. He wanted you to see the beauty of mathematics, the best of which are in an imaginary book—and he wanted you to believe in the book. Yet he said you didn't have to believe in God. Talk about closing your eyes to reality.

There is no real problem between Christianity and science. The problem comes in when people like Erdős close their eyes to reality. Rather than giving glory to God he made mathematics an idol.

That's what people do. Romans 1:20 tells us that since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—

"have been clearly seen, being understood from
what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him
as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking
became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God
for images made to look like mortal man
and birds and animals and reptiles…
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie,
and worshiped and served created things
rather than the Creator—who is forever praised."

Christians, there are such wonders around you. These wonders display the glory of God and tell you about Him.

Not only that, consider God's protection and provision for you.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Every day He gives you life and breath and everything else. Every day He does not treat you as your sins deserve. All the good things you have received—think of your spouse and your children, your job, your home—have they not come to you from God's hand?

Do you ponder those things? How ungrateful we are if we do not. William Plummer writes, (Psalms, p. 981)

"Let us study with care and admire with heartiness the grace and compassion of God. v. 4. There is not a day of our lives that does not demand of us some pious notice of the divine kindness, 'in sparing, and pardoning, and restoring, and preserving us when we have deserved to be utterly destroyed.""The most amazing perverseness in man is proven by the fact that he does not remember what God has so arranged as that it would seem impossible that it should be forgotten. v. 4.3 No small part of piety consists in cherishing and treasuring up the memory of his beneficent acts."


the great benefits we would gain if we pondered God's love for us.

How our faith would be increased. We would be filled with a lot more praise to God. We would be patient under affliction.

What confidence, hope and thankfulness to God we would have if we studied the truth of Romans 8:28,

"And we know that in all things God works for the good
of those who love him, who have been called
according to his purpose."

Lastly, I want you to consider the

The emptiness and the futility of doing the opposite of this.

If you don't study the greatness of God, you exchange the truth of God for a lie. As we read in Isaiah 44:9–10

"All who make idols are nothing, and the things
they treasure are worthless. Who shapes a god and casts
an idol, which can profit him nothing?"

Of course in our age we don't make idols and put them on our shelves and bow down to them. But we have our idols.

For some men women are idols. They chase after them, thinking that it will bring them happiness. Some don't chase real women. In the age of the Internet porn has become very accessible. It's an idol. Other people study celebrities. Others are into sports, entertainment, novels. With others their work is their idol. Still with others it's their status or their reputation. These pursuits are empty and vain. They don't bring happiness. In the end they bring emptiness and misery. They are substitutes that deceive, that lead us astray.

So I ask you—what do you study? What do you ponder? Ponder the works of the Lord. Jesus has done so much for sinners. Ponder His works. Ponder the works of your heavenly Father. Ponder the works of the Holy Spirit. Ponder them and give God praise, thanksgiving and honor. Ponder them and live for Him.