Psalm 19

The Psalms play a very important role not only in ancient Israel but also for us today.  For instance, in many worship services and special services, including funerals, the Psalms are read and sung because they are relevant in different seasons of lives.  I count it a great joy to study the book of Psalms for the first half of this year in PSPC.

 

C. S. Lewis considered Psalm 19 to be “the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.[1] The writer addresses not only on how creation reveals the Creator but also gives instruction on the law of the Lord and how important it is.  It starts with praise to the Creator for the creation, talks about God’s Word being sweeter than honey and ends with a prayer that all believers should be praying each day as we welcome the new day that the Lord has given to us.

 

Psalm 19 has similar themes with Psalm 1, 8, and 119.  Like Psalm 19, the writer of Psalm 8 praises the Lord as he considers the heavens and the work of God through creation.  Psalm 1 highlights the differences between a man who follows God’s law and one who does not.  Psalm 19:7-14 shows how God’s law benefits those who keep them and Psalm 119 teaches the importance of keeping and obeying God’s law.  Psalm 19 falls into the category of both hymns and wisdom psalm.  Although it does not begin with a call to worship as many others psalms do, it proclaims how creation declares the glory of God. The biblical concept of wisdom as “the fear of the Lord” is found not only in Proverbs but also in this psalm.

The Glory of God is Revealed in the Heavens (19:1-6)

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 reveal knowledge.

The heavens reveal to us the greatness of God and the wonder of the works of His hands.  These verses explain how creation declares the glory of God.  In its own ways, creation proclaims that there is an amazing Creator by revealing the handiwork of God.

The Glory of God is Revealed in His Law (19:7-11)

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;

The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

 

 

 

Psalm 19 like other wisdom psalms, shows the importance of God’s law and instructions.  “Each line begins with a different expression for the law, each first half featuring a nominal clause and each second colon spelling out in participle constructions, an activity of the Torah.”[2] The writer shows us that God’s law or commandment are not meant to be chains on our hands and feet but rather to restore us, to make wise the simple, to give joy to the heart, to bring light to the eyes and in keeping them there is a promise of great reward.  The writer of this psalm shows us not only the glory of God revealed in the creation but also in the law of the Lord.

After the writer gives the list of the revelation of the law, he says in verse 10 that the law of the Lord is more desirable than gold and also sweeter than the drippings of the honeycomb.  This verse is a synthetic parallelism because gold complement fine gold and honey complement honeycomb.

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

          Not only that the law of the Lord is desirable and sweet to keep, but also by keeping them there is great reward.

The Glory of God Prompts Reflection In One’s Life (19:12-14)

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;

Let them not rule over me;

Then I will be blameless,

And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

These verses show us the prayer of the writer in response to God’s revelation of His glory both in the heavens and in His law.  It is very clear that nothing is hidden from God including all sins that are committed unknowingly or knowingly.  He prayed to God to keep him from willful sins.  The more we know the glory of God, the greater we become aware of our sins; the more we know the holiness of God, the more we realize our needs for His forgiveness and grace for each day.  As I reflect upon Psalm 19, I am in awe of the beautiful handiworks of God’s creation.  In meditating upon His law, I am renewed and refreshed and as I cry out to God in my pain, weaknesses and sins, I find comfort and forgiveness.  Just as the writer ends with a prayer that he wants to please God both in the words of his mouth and the thoughts of his heart, I pray too that each day we will be determined to please God in what we say and how we think.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in Your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

 

Mary Chhuani

Staffworker

 




[1] C. S. Lewis, Reflection on the Psalm (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1986) 63.

[2] Erhard S. Gerstenberger, Psalms Part I With an Introduction To Cultic Poetry (Grand Rapids: Michigan, 1988), 101.

 

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