This is another one of my favorite psalms and it powerfully shows how God reveals himself to us.
First, David shows us how God reveals himself through creation. He sang,
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (1-4)
I think this passage is primarily what Paul was thinking of when he wrote,
What may be known about God is plain to [all], because God has made it plain to them. For 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. (Romans 1:19-20)
Sometimes people ask, “What will happen to those who have never heard about God? Will God judge them too, when they’ve never even heard the name of Christ?”
The answer to this is, yes they will be judged, but not on the basis of never hearing about Christ. They’ll be judged on the basis that when they looked at creation, they knew in their hearts that it couldn’t have been an accident, nor could it have been created by the idols made by their own hands. And yet they rejected that knowledge.
When people reject the knowledge that God gives them, he is under no obligation to give them any more. If he chooses to do so, it’s purely a matter of grace, not of some right to knowledge that we have. (Actually, any knowledge of himself that God gives to us is purely a matter of grace, anyway).
I will say, however, that if a person, say in Africa, who has never heard the gospel looks up at the sky and says, “I didn’t make this world. No one I know could have made this. It’s impossible that the things I created with my own hands have made this. Whoever you are that made all this, please show yourself to me,” that God will respond one way or another. Why? Because it is his desire that all be saved. (I Timothy 2:4)
If you have any doubts about that, just look at the story of Cornelius in Acts 10. He knew nothing of his need for Christ. Yet because he acted on the knowledge that he did have, God reached down to him and gave him the knowledge of Jesus that he needed for salvation.
God reveals himself to us through creation, but he also reveals himself through his Word. And just as with creation, people need to choose to believe his word, or reject it.
We can either say that it’s perfect and trustworthy, or that it’s not. (7)
We can either say it’s right, or that it’s not. (8)
We can believe it is gives joy and light to our lives, or that it doesn’t. (8)
David, of course, chose to believe the former. Many others do not. But how we view God’s Word shapes our view of God for the good or bad. And if we reject his Word, then we come out with a distorted view of who God really is.
But when we see God for who he is, we love him, and want to please him as David did. And so David closes this psalm with a prayer, saying,
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (12-14)