July 12, 2009

Psalm 19: God's Revelation

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
6 Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19 briefly describes how God reveals Himself to the world and to His people. It teaches us about God’s revelation through his word to us, both the written word and the guidance of His Holy Spirit. The psalm describes God’s revelation to us as law, testimony, His statutes and commandments, and his judgments. It speaks not only of God’s glory but also His grace.

All nature reveals God’s glory to mankind (1-6)

God’s wisdom, power and glory are seen in his creation:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun.
Modern science deals with “natural laws” and does not acknowledge the creative acts of God. But when we look at the marvels of heaven and earth and see the beauty of creation, we are getting a peek at the glory of God. Here’s how the psalmist puts it in Psalm 6:3-5:

3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
Jesus affirms the handiwork of his Father in the lilies and the birds in Matthew 6:26-29:

26 “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Night and day the creation of God speaks to us (verse 2). Not with literal words, but in the majesty of creation. And this witness is to everyone, “to the end of the world” (verse 4); that is, to everyone in the world. The majesty of the universe around us speaks a universal message to everyone that God exists and is our creator and sustainer.

By observing his wisdom and power in creation, we hear the voice of God. The psalmist testifies to what modern man has forgotten: the majesty and complexity of the universe gives witness that there is a creator. David approaches this point from another direction in Psalm 53: “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no god.”

The natural world around us tells the human heart daily of God’s creation and His continuing care for mankind. Each day begins with the sun’s light and ends with the starry night sky—the perfect balance of day and night to sustain life. The spinning of the globe at a perfect rate means it’s not too hot and not too cold to sustain life.

The vastness of the universe testifies to God’s infinite creative power. And as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 6, His infinite power is in the details, too—the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.

The Lord tells us through Paul that enough is revealed about God in His creation to make all mankind accountable to acknowledge Him (Romans 1:18-20):

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
“By the things that are made” in this passage refers to the fact that the creation delivers a clear, unmistakable message about God’s person, as verse 1 of Psalm 19 points out: “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” People can see God in His creation. Referring to “His eternal power,” in the Romans passage, Paul is telling us that the Creator, who made all that we see around us and constantly sustains it, must possess awesome power. People can reason that God is immensely powerful as they observe His handiwork.

He speaks through His word to declare His grace (7-11)


The law of the Lord is perfect, converting (restoring) the soul. “Law” might better be translated “teaching” or “instruction.” David is not referring to the law of Moses but to the direction the Lord would have us go, His teaching or instruction to us.

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. “Testimony” refers to His revelation to us, through both creation and His word; that is, Scripture and the witness of His Holy Spirit indwelling us.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. David likely refers to the law of Moses here, the written precepts and expectations God communicated to His people through the law. The psalmist writes in Psalm 119:128: “All Your precepts (statutes) concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.” And in Psalm 119:160, we find “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The word of God is seen here as His orders to us, not to bind us or limit us, but to enlighten us. God’s word plays a crucial role in our restoration to the kingdom of God.

In 1 Peter 2:9, the Lord tells us:

9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
The “enlightenment” of the child of God referred to in Psalm 19 is the deliverance of him or her from darkness to light in the salvation experience.

And what is that light? Paul tells us it is the kingdom of God in Colossians 1:13:

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. Reverence and profound respect for God makes a person clean. Those who have reverence and respect for the Lord are His people, cleansed from sin.

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. God’s judgments, or His judicial decisions, are given to us in His word. He judges sin and unrighteousness in those who reject Him and judges acceptance and eternal life with Him for those who are saved. Since His judgments are true and righteous, they are to be desired more than gold.

His guidance, His word, and His judgments are to true and righteous that they are beyond the value of gold or any other thing we may value. They are so true and righteous that they should taste sweeter to us than honey, the sweetest substance people knew back then.

And what are the purposes of the judgments of God? To warn His people about the way they should live and to reward His people who keep them.
His word, His precepts, and His judgments make us whole and give us communion with Him.

He hears our prayer to cleanse us from all sin (12-14)


We do not understand our sinfulness and must just turn to God for forgiveness. We cannot cure ourselves of sin; we must look to our Savior for that to be accomplished.

David refers to unintentional sins (errors, faults) as well as obvious sins (presumptuous sins or willful sins). “Let them not have dominion over me,” he writes, demonstrating that he wants more than anything to be blameless in God’s sight . . . to serve God and not his own unrighteousness.

Note that David does not claim to be sinless. He claims to be blameless, which we can define from this verse as sin not having dominion over us: serving God and not serving sin.

So verse 13 gives us insight into God’s grace. David acknowledges that he sins in verse 12, referring to his errors and secret faults from which he prays for cleansing. He is innocent and blameless, then, through the grace of God, who cleanses him and declares him innocent and blameless.

David closes the psalm with a plea that God will find his words and his thoughts acceptable. (verse 14)

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
The term “acceptable” is associated with pleasing God with sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem. A sacrifice offered with a pure heart and in the proper manner was deemed acceptable to God. David is referring to his words and his thoughts as similar sacrifices—dedicated to God—and he asks God that his words and thoughts would be acceptable to Him.

1 comment:

Roger D. Curry said...

I confess to being stunned that I have already ordered one of the books you've recommended before I knew that you recommended it.
R