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Psalm 19

Tod Kennedy

Theme

Creation and God’s word Yahweh powerfully proclaim Yahweh's glory, works, and instructions and this prompts David to pray.

Summary

David, in this Psalm, proclaims that creation powerfully reveals God’s glory and works (Psalm 19:1-6). He further proclaims that Yahweh’s word  powerfully reveals Yahweh’s provisions, instructions, warnings, and blessings, and is desirable and enjoyable (Psalm 19:7-11.) These revelations prompt David to pray that Yahweh will alert David to sin, keep him from sin, and guide his speech and thoughts so they please Yahweh (Psalm 19:12-14).

Outline

  1. Psalm 19:1-6. David proclaims that creation powerfully reveals God’s glory and works.
  2. Psalm 19.7-11. David further proclaims that Yahweh’s word powerfully reveals Yahweh’s provisions, instructions, warnings, and blessings, and is desirable and enjoyable.
  3. Psalm 19.12-14. These revelations prompt David to pray that Yahweh will alert David to sin, keep him from sin, and guide his speech and thoughts so they please Yahweh.

Explanation

  1. Psalm 19:1-6. David proclaims that creation powerfully reveals God’s glory and works.
    • John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 say that Jesus Christ created all things—through him, by him, and for him. Romans 1:18-20 affirm that God’s existence, his creative power, and his attributes were clearly seen and known through what he made, even in and to those who suppressed the knowledge. See World, October 23, 2010, page 79, “78 Degrees” http://www.worldmag.com/articles/17201 for a short and enjoyable essay about the precise balance of the earth that God created for our habitation. Natural revelation is powerful. It is also visual. Do we stop, look, and think about what natural revelation is teaching us? Do we observe?
    • Psalm 19:1. Key words: heavens, expanse (skyward, planets, galaxies, solar systems); glory (character, nature), work (design and results). Telling and declaring are parallel. Heavens and expanse are parallel. Hands indicate precision and personal attention. The heavens and the expanse vividly announce God’s glory and God’s work.
    • Psalm 19:2-4b. There is a silent—though very visible and knowable—revelation about God’s attributes, his planning, his design, and his intended result. It is available all the time—day and night. Note that this is wordless speech. The revelation is video not audio. People can see God’s message, but they need to be open to the truth revealed in creation. If they are not open, they cannot blame God for not revealing himself.
    • Psalm 19:4c-6. God placed the sun in the sky. The sun has been obvious from earliest time. Its warmth is felt. It is always there. Mankind, time, seasons, plants, animals, health, prosperity, knowledge, and even more depend upon the sun. Man cannot move it or change it. God created the sun. In some places the sun god was called god and worshipped. David may have also had in mind pagan religions which worshipped the sun. If so, he is also saying God created the sun. All pagan gods are nothing. Note also the indication of the sun’s circuit in the sky by David around 1000 BC. This is a veiled reference to the rotation of the earth in their common understanding.
  2. Psalm 19:7-11. David further proclaims that Yahweh’s word powerfully reveals Yahweh’s provisions, instructions, warnings, and blessings, and is desirable and enjoyable.
    • The terms for Yahweh’s word in this section include law (torah), testimony (`edut), precepts (piqqud), commandment (mitswah), fear (yirah), judgments (mishpat).
      • Why the change of divine name? El was used to indicate the majestic creator while Yahweh, God’s name, emphasizes Yahweh God’s personal communication to his covenant people. Scripture is Yahweh God’s personal message to his people.
        • Psalm 19:7. Law, Strong 8451 torah; direction, instruction, law, body of teaching.
        • Psalm 19:7. Testimony, Strong 5713  ‘edah; an affirmation about something.
        • Psalm 19:8. Precepts, Strong 6490 piqqud; something appointed, a charge.
        • Psalm 19:8. Commandment, Strong 4687—miszwah; a definite authoritative command.
        • Psalm 19:9. Fear, Strong 3374 yirah, fear, reverence, respect; Yahweh’s word produces reverence for him (Deuteronomy 4:10). Fear is parallel to law, testimony, precepts, commandments, and judgments.
        • Psalm 19:9. Judgments, Strong 4941 mishpot; a sentence, judicial decision, judgment.
    • Note the descriptions of Yahweh’s word: perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, righteous, desirable, and sweet. Note the word pairs.
      • Psalm 19:7. Perfect, Strong 8549 tamim; complete, sound, whole.
      • Psalm 19:7. Sure, Strong 539 aman; to confirm, support, reliable, faithful.
      • Psalm 19:8. Right, Strong 3477 yashar; straight, right, level, upright.
      • Psalm 19:8. Pure, Strong 1249; clean, pure.
      • Psalm 19:9. Clean, Strong 2889 tahor; ceremonially, physically, or ethically clean.
      • Psalm 19:9. True, Strong 571 ‘emeth; firmness, faithfulness, truth.
      • Psalm 19:9. Righteous, Strong 6663 tsadeq; be just, be righteous.
      • Psalm 19:10. Desirable, Strong 2530 chamed; to desire, take pleasure in.
      • Psalm 19:10. Sweet, Strong 4966 matuq; sweet, sweetness (literal Judges 134:14; figurative Ecclesiastes 5:11, pleasant).
    • Note the benefits of Yahweh’s word: restoring the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, enduring forever, they warn, and they give reward.
      • Psalm 19:7. The law or instruction is complete, sound, whole, and it restores the soul, Strong 775 shuv; to turn back, return; hiphil (here) bring back, restore, repair. The soul, nephesh. 1. It restores our biblical view.2. It restores our perspective of God, self, and life. 3. It puts us back where we should be.
      • Psalm 19:7. The testimony or affirmation about something is reliable and faithful and makes wise the simple, Strong 2449 chacam to be wise; hiphil to make wise. The simple, Strong 6612a petiy, is one with open mind, mostly in the sense lacking knowledge, wisdom, and discernment; easily pursuaded. God’s word is the foundation for life. This foundation consists of beliefs, worldview, and values. This foundation gives of stability. It directs us and protects us.
      • Psalm 19:8. The precepts or  charge is straight and upright, and rejoices  the heart, Strong 8055 samach to rejoice, be glad as in Psalm 9:2, 31:7, and 118:24. Heart, Strong 3820 leb inner man, mind, will, heart, source of life of the inner person. All people want joy or to enjoy life. The heart directs life. We want joy in our heart. God’s word does this in us.
      • Psalm 19:8. The commandment of the Lord or an authoritative command is pure and clean. It enlightens the eyes, Strong 219 ‘or to give light, cause to shine, to light. When something is clean or pure, that cleanness allows one to see into it and understand it. God’s word gives understanding and therefore a clear vision of life around us.
      • Psalm 19:9. The fear of the Lord brought about by Scripture produces reverence for Yahweh. Fear of the Lord in this context is parallel to the other words for Scripture. The fear of the Lord is ethically clean (right standards, absolute truth) and endures forever, Strong 5975 amad to stand, take one’s stand, be present, endure. If we are committed to following a standard we want that standard to last. We do not want it to change on us. We do not want to be unsure if the standard or the advice is still correct. God’s word goes on and on. It endures through the good times and the difficult times. The judgments or judicial decisions are true and dependable and they are righteous.
      • Psalm 19:10. They are desirable and sweet.  Yahweh’s word is more desirable than gold which is the standard of monetary wealth. His word is sweeter than honey which is the standard for pleasant taste. The implied conclusion is that we should seek and store up his word and as we read, listen, and think about it, it gives us great pleasure.
      • Psalm 19:11. By them your servant Is warned, Strong 2094 zahar to admonish, instruct, to warn. God’s word warns us about dangers, wrong ideas, wrong actions, separates right from wrong.
      • Psalm 19:11. Great reward, Strong 6118, `eqeb consequence, reward.
  3. Psalm 19:12-14. These revelations prompt David to pray that Yahweh will alert David to sin, keep him from sin, and guide his speech and thoughts so they please Yahweh.
    • Psalm 19.12-13. Yahweh’s word alone can divide between good and bad, right and wrong, error and truth. Yahweh’s word alone can give the final verdict of forgiveness. Furthermore, because Yahweh’s word is complete, perfect, and personal, only it can guide, point out, prevent sin, give pleasure and fulfillment, and instruct our speech and thoughts so they please Yahweh God. Compare Hebrews 4:12, Psalm 119 (especially Psalm 119:9-11), 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and others.
    • Psalm 19:12. God’s word reveals sins that we are not aware of. It points them out to us as we read or listen to God’s word. One reward is that our conscience is now clear because we do not wonder about our thoughts and habits. The word has pointed out what is right and wrong.
    • Psalm 19:13. Presumptuous sins.  We presume or arrogantly think that certain sins are above God’s rules. God has no authority over these thoughts and actions. God’s word guards us against this attitude and these sins.
    • Psalm 19:14. God is creator and has personally communicated his word. David’s response is that he wants his speech and thoughts to be acceptable to Yahweh-God. David wants to please Yahweh. The New Testament also contains this idea of pleasing God. Also see Romans 8:8, 2 Corinthians 5:9, Galatians 1:10, Ephesians 5:10, Colossians 1:10, 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 13:16 and 21, and 1 John 3:22. One who reads, listens to, meditates on, and applies God’s word will please God.
      • David calls Yahweh-God his rock (tsur, Psalm 18:2, 31, 46; protector, supporter, strength) and redeemer (ga’al, to redeem, buy by payment, deliver from danger; many passages; see Leviticus 25:48-49 and Ruth 4:6). The rock is the protector behind which one hides. The redeemer gets us out of bad situations and sinful places.

Summary Principles

  1. God created the heavens and the earth by his immediate command. They did not come into existence through some pagan deity or through evolution. See also Genesis 1, Isaiah 40:12-31 (especially verses 26-28), John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1.
  2. Physical creation reveals Yahweh God, the creator-owner, to mankind. There is an intelligent designer. He is Yahweh Elohim, LORD God. This truth of God’s existence and nature has been placed in mankind and is observable because of creation. Natural revelation is visual; it is not verbal. We should stop, look, and think about what we see of God’s creation. Therefore, no one has any excuse for rejecting God. Each person is responsible. See also Job 38-41 and Romans 1.
  3. Natural revelation can only take us so far. Natural revelation brings out the need for special revelation to reveal details. Therefore, Yahweh also communicated his written word to mankind and mankind is responsible for what that word contains. This written word is the Scripture, “thus says the Lord.” See also Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 2, 2 Timothy 3:14ff, and many others.
  4. Yahweh’s word restores, makes wise, brings rejoicing, gives enlightenment, is dependable, is true and right, is desirable and sweet, warns, discerns, acquits, prevents sin, and brings reward. Also see Psalm 1 and 119, Proverbs, John 17, Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:14ff, 2 John, 3 John, and others.
  5. For anyone who wants to please Yahweh God and experience his blessings, Yahweh’s word is required reading and to be studied. Therefore, God’s word is necessary for Christian living and should be a priority for each believer. Natural revelation combined with biblical revelation should lead a believer to say with David in Psalm 19:14, “let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

So what or how does Psalm 19 help a believer?

  1. Psalm 19 gives God's perspective of the physical world and the spiritual life. Both are greater than mankind and mankind’s ideas, and should instruct and encourage us.
  2. Psalm 19 reveals God’s nature and works.
  3. Psalm 19 reveals the importance of God’s word for day to day living—restoration, thinking, values, instruction, correction, and encouragement.
  4. Psalm 19 encourages and calms mankind’s soul and human spirit.
  5. Psalm 19 reminds us what is the right application from knowing the Creator and His Word—reverence, righteousness, godly speech and thinking, and trust.