Weds 6 July - Psalm 19
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from wilful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
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Meditation on Psalm 19
Genesis 1:1 and 31 remind us that ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ and ‘God saw all He had made and it was very good.’
Psalm 18 is a great hymn of praise where the psalmist concludes that ‘The LORD lives! Praise be to my rock! Exalted be God my Saviour!’
And Psalm 19 takes us to another place as we consider two things about our faith.
1. The glory of God in creation
- The Word of the LORD
For a moment go with your mind’s eye around the heavens as shown in the skies.
Are the clouds white and fluffy?
Are the clouds dark and foreboding?
Is the sun shining brightly?
Is the sun hidden from view for a while?
Is the moon reflecting the light of the sun?
Are the stars out in force?
As your eyes rove around during the day and during the night, go with the psalmist and say in a loud, clear voice, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.’
These statements are in the present tense – i.e. ‘the heavens ARE DECLARING the glory of God; the skies ARE PROCLAIMING the work of His hands.’
Then we remember that God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – was involved in creation and is still involved in the ongoing voice of creation.
There are many scientists who will tell us that science has advanced so far over the years that we can discount the biblical account of creation.
But there are many scientists who will say that science is compatible with the biblical account of creation.
An eminent physicist and astronomer, Robert Jastrow (died in 2008), said this: “At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Verses 2-6 THE VOICE OF THE HEAVENS
We don’t worship creation. We worship the God of creation
And creation speaks to us and teaches us, even though we don’t hear an actual voice.
There is no speech, no words no sound and yet God speaks powerfully through the heavens.
Do we listen?
And God provides a tent for the sun which comes out every day.
The psalmist likens this to a bridegroom coming out for his big day or an athlete enjoying his running.
What a provision God has given us.
The sun covers the whole sky. Its strength and its warmth extend everywhere. It is a wonderful example of the glory of God being declared in the heavens.
And yet, even this is passing and time-limited because when Jesus comes again we are reminded that ‘the sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light and your days of sorrow will end.’ (Isaiah 60:19-20)
Verses 7-11 THE WORD OF THE LORD
Notice that when referring to God’s creation the psalmist uses ‘God’ but when he comes to God’s Word he uses ‘LORD’.
Michael Wilcock makes a helpful suggestion – ‘the change is a pointer towards their unity rather than away from it. It is precisely the limitation of the voice of His world that can tell us only about God the Creator; we have to heed the voice of the law to learn that He is also the Lord, our Redeemer.’
See how the psalmist refers to the Word of the Lord.
He refers to it as:
- the law of the LORD – God’s revealed will
- statutes – the truth attested by God
- precepts – commandments
- fear – how we respond to the Word of the Lord in reverence
- decrees – the righteous decisions based on a judicial ruling
He describes it as:
- more precious than gold
- sweeter than honey
- a warning
He tells us the effect of the Word of the LORD;
- giving wisdom
- giving joy
- giving light
And finally he summarises the Word of the LORD as:
As the hymnwriter puts it:
‘How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in His excellent Word;
what can He say than to you He has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?’
Verses 12-13 THE EFFECT OF THE WORD OF THE LORD
Who are we when we consider the glory of God and the Word of God?
So, the psalmist, recognising his weaknesses, prays for forgiveness and for victory over temptations – those hidden faults, those wilful sins.
We, too, pray the same. The words of a chorus come to mind:
‘Cleanse me from my sin, Lord,
put your power within, Lord,
take me as I am, Lord
and make me all your own.
keep me day by day, Lord,
underneath your sway, Lord
make my heart your palace and your royal throne.’
Verse 14 THE FINAL PRAYER
The psalmist prays about what he says and what he thinks about, longing that he will please the One who is his ‘Rock and Redeemer.’
‘Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.’