Psalm 19:1–14comment (1)
September 3, 2009
By Douglas Wilson
Related Scripture: Psalm 19:1–14
Explore the Bible
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
GOD IS REVEALED
We begin this study of the Psalms focusing on reasons for singing God’s praises. Over the coming weeks, we will see certain attributes of God’s nature revealed within the Hebrew songbook: justice, faithfulness and greatness. This week’s focus, however, addresses the means by which God reveals Himself.
Psalm 19 is a great place to begin our study of the Psalms for a number of reasons. First, it begins with God and His revelation to us. Second, it contains a superscription — additional information about the passage — referring to this song as a psalm of David. Finally, Hebrew poetry employs parallelism and Psalm 19 offers some wonderful examples of word pairs: heavens/sky, day/night, speech/words, all the earth/end of the world.
This psalm gives attention to God’s general revelation through creation and His special revelation through Scripture. As a trained Pharisee, Paul likely thought of the truths of this psalm while writing Romans 1–3. No one is without excuse before God, Paul wrote, because He reveals Himself through creation and His Word.
See God’s Works (1–6)
Francis Bacon explained that God demonstrates His existence through the book of His works (creation) and the book of His words (the Bible). As a scientist, Bacon observed that repeatable and measurable experimentation is possible only because of an ordered universe, the product of an orderly Designer. Other significant individuals responsible for the modern scientific movement — including Copernicus, Galileo and Isaac Newton — began their formulations with a belief that the universe demonstrated the orderliness of its Creator. This Davidic psalm does not serve as an apologetic for God’s existence. Rather the author presupposes that God is and His creation reveals who He is. The observable pattern of the sun during the day and the stars in the night sky cry out that God is real. Every people group on earth is capable of recognizing the design and order of the creation.
Search God’s Word (7–11)
David continues by focusing on God’s special revelation, which would have primarily included the Mosaic Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy). This term is misunderstood sometimes because these books include narrative, songs, principles, observations, personal revelations and various laws. This passage speaks to the various aspects of the Law, employing six terms to describe them: instruction, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear and ordinances. These terms are paralleled and here the overall description of God’s special revelation holds great significance. God’s Word is perfect, reviving the soul; it is trustworthy, giving wisdom to simple people; it is right, bringing joy; it is radiant, bringing light to the eyes; it is pure, enduring always; and it is reliable and righteous.
With this reality, why do we not look to God’s Word every waking moment? Why do we get caught up in the cobwebs of life, entangled and bound by every passing thought? We must hear, read, learn, live and share His Word. If we see who God is, who we are, what Jesus has accomplished and humanity’s need for Christ, perhaps then we would live with an eternal perspective and redeem our time.
Seek God’s Will (12–14)
David recognizes obvious sin in his life; a later psalm reveals his brokenness over previously unrepentant sin. The king also recognizes that he is capable of unintentional sin. To this end, he asks the Lord to reveal his sins of ignorance. We can only truly turn away from sins of which we are aware. Two significant thoughts close this psalm. First, the Psalmist desires to be in right standing with God, both in words and in actions. He wants to be acceptable to God, a thought echoed by Paul in Romans 12:1–2. Second, he calls the Lord his rock and redeemer. When David calls the Lord his rock, he employs the language of Jacob as he blessed Joseph (Gen. 49:24) and Moses, which he used in his final song (see Deut. 32:4, 18, 30, 31). The Redeemer makes our lives worth living, just as Boaz did for Ruth, David’s great-grandmother.