The Book of Psalms Chapter Nineteen Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Verse 1: "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." If you were to tell people, "The universe is talking to me," they might lock you up, so don't do it. But in the language only fully known to God, He IS speaking to us through His creation, what we call "the universe." These days, much of what we can buy often comes disassembled, accompanied by a set of instructions about how to put it all together. The universe is complete, but it does offer a set of instructions as seen in its incredible complexity. These words of David are really the words of God's Holy Spirit, who indwells ordinary people of faith, enabling us to comment on topics too great for us. David looked up and was stunned by the vast beauty of what he saw, and though his human understanding was limited because of the time he lived in, he shared our awe at what we see. We have much more sophisticated tools of observation, but we are stunned, also—the more we look deeply into "the heavens," the more complex, the more amazing we find that it is. God is the Creator of everything, and in His creation, we discover that He is indeed glorious beyond any human expectation.
Verse 2: "Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge." The earth is exactly the distance from the sun needed for us to remain alive. And it's interesting that the Egyptians of Moses' time, knew that the sun was 93,000,000 miles from earth. The orbit of the planet Venus is too close to the sun and Mars is not close enough. Our orbit is exactly where we need it, just as God intended. The atmosphere is perfect and the various temperatures around the planet are mostly just right. If you went to the planet Mercury or perhaps Jupiter, if you forgot your helmet, you would die when you opened the spacecraft door because of the alien atmospheres and unlivable temperatures. This island earth, this oasis, speaks to us continually, providing the knowledge that God has fashioned us and given us a home. Many in humanity these days are able to provide a crib, furniture and playthings for our little ones... We are God's little ones and He provides what we need.
Verse 3: "There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard." One of the difficulties in "hearing" God is that we are limited in our understanding of what "speech" is all about. We know that dogs hear more effectively than we do, but what we are less likely to perceive is how effectively they "talk" with each other through the sense of smell, a non-verbal form of communication. Almighty God is speaking to us all the time, but His "words" are often conveyed in ways that we don't "hear." He speaks through the macrocosm and calls out through the microcosm, shouting from its complexity: "I am your Creator—look at the universe through a telescope or microscope—I spoke it all into existence. I am your God." His creation is speaking to you and me. Best of all, He communicates through faith in the Lord and in His written Word.
Verses 4-6: "Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices as a strong man to run his course. 6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat." Notice that the Holy Spirit, in expressing God's universe, utilized the limited perceptions of humanity at that time, allowing people of all times to understand. We now know that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around, but most of history, including David, thought otherwise. We know far less than we think we do, and God speaks to us through OUR limited understanding. The point of this Psalm is to reveal that the God who created the universe is the same God who generated the Bible, utilizing many human authors over centuries of time. It is probable that we have primitive understanding also, but God communicates to us through the little we know. Sol, the star we call the sun, is a continuing hydrogen explosion, stabilized like nothing we can duplicate, providing the temperatures we need in order to survive. It was not an accidental occurrence—Almighty God created and sustains our sun—and us.
Verses 7-9: "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether." What is called the "law" in these verses is the perfect, sure, right, pure, clean and true Word of God. The existence of this Book we are studying is even more important to us than the universe in which we live. On this planet, the atmosphere that surrounds us, the water so necessary to us all, the seeds of life that grow into the foods we eat... What more could we want? That's the question, and the answer is: The "Law of the Lord." This Bible we study leads us to Jesus the Christ, who saves us forever and fills us with His Holy Spirit! The Law shows us our need and brings us to the One who fills that need. "Fear" is the reasonable response to at last recognizing who He is, as revealed in His Word and His universe.
Verses 10-11: "They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward." Money comes and goes, but money doesn't love us. The Lord blessedly does love us and His love is—forever. The Law can be viewed as the commandments given by God. 613 of them have been counted in the Old Testament, by someone who liked to count things, and it can also refer to the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. In Romans 7, we see Paul the Apostle's struggle as he discovered through the Law that he was a sinner like the rest of us. In Romans 7:12, he recognized, as David did, that the Law is good, even though we are not good in our natural state. Romans 7 blends into Chapter 8:1-2, where Paul saw that, "the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." The Law is good, and yet both David and Paul found FAITH in the Lord, an enabling gift from God that gives us a great eternal "reward."
Verses 12-13: "Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. 13 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." We know or should know, what "presumptuous sins" are all about: I see it, I want it, I know it is wrong, but I do it anyway. "Hidden faults" or "hidden sins" in some translations, are more subtle. It's very likely that, at some level, we know we are doing wrong but we don't see it, or more likely, we don't want to see. Notice that David here is PRAYING to God. He knew how prone to sin he was, he knew that he fooled himself, and he knew that only the Lord could save him. David didn't necessarily understand the process of salvation and deliverance like we do, through he did have a prophetic look at the cross of Christ in Psalm 22, but he did know this: We need the LORD to deliver us from sin and death. The Father is our Judge, and the Lord is the only One who can and will render us "blameless" in the sight of God. He is "the Way" (John 14:6).
Verse 14: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." A good question to ask is: Why would the Lord want to listen to the words and meditations of people like you and me? The answer is: He loves us, and so, let the concluding words of this verse become personal: He is: "My Rock and my Redeemer." The word "Rock" here has nothing to do with music; instead He will be the sure FOUNDATION of your life. The Hebrew for "Redeemer" was a term often used about someone sold into slavery and then bought back out of servitude by some helpful friend or relative. We were born into the slavery of carrying the DNA of sin, and Jesus Christ, dying on the cross, became the Antidote who HEALS you and me. Through faith in the Lord, we at last become "acceptable" in the sight of God. A careful reading of Psalm 51:16-19 reveals something of David's personal struggle. Religion and religious activities were not enough and he knew it. His heart, your heart and mine, must first be made acceptable; then, and only then, our religious observances —and our lives— begin to be "acceptable" in the sight of God.
Lord, I have sinned and am unacceptable in Your Sight. I have failed to keep the Law, but see that the God who created the universe is the One who died for me. I trust in You, Lord. Please forgive me and heal me. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.