The Heavens Declare His Glory! - Psalm 19 (Summer of Psalms)

Psalm 19 

The heavens declare the glory of God, 
    and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. 

Day to day pours out speech, 
    and night to night reveals knowledge. 

There is no speech, nor are there words, 
    whose voice is not heard. 

Their voice goes out through all the earth, 
    and their words to the end of the world. 
In them he has set a tent for the sun, 

    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, 
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 

Its rising is from the end of the heavens, 
    and its circuit to the end of them, 
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat. 

The law of the Lord is perfect, 
    reviving 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 rules of the Lord are true, 
    and righteous altogether. 
More to be desired are they than gold, 
    even much fine gold; 
sweeter also than honey 
    and drippings of the honeycomb. 
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; 
    in keeping them there is great reward. 
Who can discern his errors? 
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; 
    let them not have dominion over me! 
Then I shall be blameless, 
    and innocent of great transgression. 
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart 
    be acceptable in your sight, 
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. 

The opening verses of Psalm 19 truly are some of the most beautifully scripted verses about God in all of Scripture (in my opinion).  If the Psalms can be considered poetic works (and they are), this is poetry in its holiest form.  Nature itself:  the heavens, the earth, the sun…it all points back to the Lord and reflects His majesty.  Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  We need look nowhere else for a glimpse of His handiwork than to look at His creation.  It all leads us into deeper and deeper worship of our Lord. 
Psalm 19 is our next stop in our Summer of Psalms tour.  To me the words of this Psalm are important for two main reasons:  they point us to the nature of our Lord and they cause us to look at our own hearts in response to Who God is.  The Psalms are masterful at doing this and for many of us, we know that they bring comfort and direction as we read and pray through them.  From last week we saw this perfectly displayed in Psalm 23; a well-known passage that brings to mind our rest and confident trust in the Shepherd. 

Once again I want to pull out some key themes that are evident in Psalm 19.  This is not an exhaustive study but will hopefully give you some guidance as you study these verses on your own.  As always, the goal in anything I say or write is to encourage, inspire, and equip.  There is much within Psalm 19 to help us do just that in our daily walk with the Lord.  Let’s go! 

1. God’s glory on display proves He is the Creator 

As mentioned in the introduction to this week’s blog, the opening verses of this Psalm build upon the idea that creation points back to its Creator.  The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.  This verse alone is a powerful truth.  We can wrestle with the question of “Where did man come from…how did the earth come into being?” and so on.  The Psalmist frames it as clearly as possible.  What is seen in nature and in the heavens all points back to God.  It is all from Him.  It all reveals Him.  One big theological term for this is “general revelation.”  Nature and creation are considered part of general revelation in that it all speaks to the fact there is a God and He created the heavens and the earth. 

2. The revealed glory of God goes out to everyone 

This may seem a bit obvious but because nature is evident to all (through sight, hearing, taste, touch, etc), it is something every living human must recognize.  There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  This is truly amazing imagery as we acknowledge nature is always speaking, yet the language it uses is accessible to all.  Therefore as Paul says, no one is without excuse in terms of understanding Who God is:  For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  Romans 1:20. The Psalmist goes on to talk about the sun running its course from its rising to its end.  We all see the sun and feel the effects of its heat.  Who hung the sun in place and caused its circuit to rise and fall each day?  It can only be God. 
3. God’s law stands forever and it is good 

In the middle section of this Psalm (say from verse 7 to 11 or 12), the writer switches focus and talks about God’s law.  It seems odd to make that change until one understands what he is doing here.  Because God is the Creator of all things, we can correctly assume His law is perfect and righteous.  In taking this turn, the Psalmist is beginning to connect the glory and majesty of God to the law of God and finally, our response to that law.  The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.  The thought here is that God can be trusted.  His ways are perfect.  We’ve already established He has created everything.  It all speaks of Him and to Him.  So His laws must also be good, because what He has created is good (remember the creation account:  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:31). 
4. We are guided by God’s law and we long to be blameless before Him 

In wrapping up this Psalm, the last few verses center on the response to God’s law (and ultimately His majesty).  God’s word keeps us from harm and in keeping His word, we are blessed:  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  The ultimate blessing is our eternal reward but we are also rewarded in this life by keeping God’s standard and meditating on His ways.  The Psalmist is keenly aware of his own desire to please and honor the Lord (we’ll discuss this when we look at Psalm 51).  He knows he has the capacity to transgress and break fellowship with God.  This comes by willfully sinning and avoiding what God says to do.  But this is not what he seeks for his own life:  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!  Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 

Some final thoughts:  one can go down a path of discussing “the law” and what it looks like to follow the things David is talking about here and what we are called to obey in Christ.  We know Jesus has fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17,18) and that we are under the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).  We no longer fall under what is considered Mosaic law, yet the eternal word of God still speaks.  His word is a means to guide us to be righteous and holy before Him (through the power of the Holy Spirit).  So when Psalm 19 states “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;” there is no contradiction for the believer in Christ.  There is complete agreement and we can be sure, the Word of God (His law and statutes) helps us live righteously and in step with Him (throughout the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments).  Hopefully that makes sense. 

Cannot wait to dive in again next time.  I enjoy reflecting on these passages with you and hope you are enjoying these studies as well. 

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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:15-17

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