This past week many of us began our daily Bible reading plan for 2022. As I said last week, one thing we will attempt to do together this year is study something from the daily reading once a month. So, this morning we want to look at Psalm 19, which was the first psalm we read in the reading plan.
The psalm is a powerful poem of the wonder of unspoken (creation) and spoken (written) revelation from God. Both declare His majesty and power, and combined; they are the perfect revelation from God.
The Heavens Declare the Glory of God
The psalm begins with the factual statement that creation bears the mark of its Maker and, in turn, proclaims His glory to the ends of the earth. Note how David words this point in Psalm 19:1-4.
The heavens declare the glory of God, And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world.
David opens this psalm with praise by noting how creation declares God’s glory. They glorify their Maker and we, also being God’s creation, should be adding our voices to the chorus of their praise.
Yet, many will look at the grandeur of creation, the work of God’s hands, and will deny that God created all of this (see Romans 1:18-23). Or even worse (to me at least), they will try and compromise what God said with what the unbelievers believe.
We all need the reminder of this psalm. That creation itself preaches a wordless sermon to us every day. That creation declares God’s glory, that it bears the mark of God’s handiwork, and that it is in perfect subjection to its Maker.
To this point, one author said this,
Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary The Eloquence of Nature (19:1–6)
“Different ages need this reminder—for such it is (Rom. 1:19)—in different ways. The ancients were tempted to ‘kiss their hand’ to sun and moon and the host of heaven (cf. Job. 31:26f.; 2 Kgs 23:15); the moderns to explain them away as fortuitous, in one mood, or to revert to astrology in another. Only the Christian is moved to filial wonder and joy at the thought of their Maker.”
David moves from creation in general to a specific point about the sun. It suddenly and gloriously now dominates the psalm, yet it is obedient to the law of God. For it is God who made it, set its path, and rules over it.
Psalm 19:4–6 (NKJV)
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
“And there is nothing hidden from its heat.” The sun fulfills the purpose that God has made for it and thus, by doing so, glorifies its Creator. Nothing is hidden from its heat or light.
The Law of God Converts the Soul
In verse seven, the psalm makes a clean and hard transition from creation to revelation. While it may seem abrupt, it is a natural transition. Because while creation can point us to a creator and even The Creator, creation cannot tell us anything specific about Him. Man needs a spoken revelation from that Creator to make Himself fully known hence why David makes this transition in a Psalm that praises God’s perfect revelation to man.
Psalm 19:7–8 NKJV
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”
The law, the testimony, the statutes, and the commandments are not David employing synonyms here. These are distinct terms to describe different aspects or ways God reveals His Word to us.
• Law – a comprehensive term for the totality of God’s revealed will.
• Testimony – truth attested by God himself (Cf. 1 John 5:9 “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son”).
• Statues and Commandments – “indicate the precision and authority with which God addresses us” (Kidner 1978, 117).
David is showing not only that God shows himself in his creation but also has abundantly and expressively made himself known through his word. Not only this, but there are blessings attached to God’s word. Or, to put it another way, there is a benefit to heeding the words of God just as creation also does.
• It converts (restores NASB/ refreshes NIV/ Renews CSB) the soul.
• It makes even the most naive wise.
• It makes one glad or joyful.
• It enlightens the eyes. It shows us what is right.
The Psalmist continues.
Psalm 19:9 NKJV
“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
“The fear of the Lord” should be the natural response to receiving the word of God. This fear is not solely a “terror” type fear but also a “sense of awe and worship.” It is “both and” in this Psalm. For the great powerful God of All to give me a revelation should be a fearful thing!
David continues by saying that yes, it is a fearful thing to receive God’s word, but the judgments (lit. justice, judgment, law) it contains are right and true. And by this one fact, David says,
Psalm 19:10–11 NKJV
“More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”
The law of the Lord is far above any treasure you may think of. It is better than any confection or meal one could ever have. For the law of the Lord guides, instructs, and warns. It is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). And in holding fast to them, there is great reward.
While we do not have time to list exhaustively all the rewards of being in fellowship with God and clinging to His revelation, I would suggest going back up to vv.7-8 and note the blessings or rewards one has from the revelation of God as a good starting place.
Man Responds To God’s Revelation
When all of the revelation of God has been considered (natural and special/ wordless and worded), what is the outcome? What is our response? David responds in this way, with a request to God,
Psalm 19:12–13 NKJV
“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. 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.”
David here is acknowledging that it is impossible to know himself perfectly. He is unable to discern every motivation for every action. He simply asks God, “who can understand his errors?” This is much like what Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 10:23 “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”
And so, David asks of God for help. Search me, expose my sin, cleanse me, and I know I will be pure. How does this happen? Through the revealed Law of God. And it is the same way God does it today.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
It is through prayerful contemplation on and reading of the Scriptures that God keeps us back from sin, that secret sins are exposed, and that sin’s power is of no effect.
But, this is only if I am endearing to Keep the law (as David says in this psalm). It is also the same point James wrote in James 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
The psalm ends with another request that the praise offered would be an acceptable act of worship to David’s God.
Psalm 19:14 NKJV
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 is a Psalm that praises God for His perfect revelation to mankind. He has displayed His glory in creation and made known His will in His Law.
Our response to God’s perfect revelation should be to respond in worship.