A Meditation on 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,
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.
In Psalm 19, David sees the glory of God as clear as daylight. The rising and setting of the sun is a language all its own which can be heard everywhere.. It is a universal language sensible to all men, though not all have listened as closely as David has. It is as Paul said, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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” (Rom 1.19-20).
“The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” The change is so abrupt that it’s hard to tell whether this is the sun’s message going “out through all the earth” or if this is David’s own meditation based on it. In the end, the distinction is probably meaningless. The Creation is teaching us about the glory of God, and here’s what we should get out of it: “The Law of the Lord is perfect.”
Psalm 19 is the first extended meditation on the Law in the psalms. We are blessed to have such a good adaptation of it in our hymnals, because this passage makes for an excellent confession of faith. We ought to recite these words every chance we get, so that we learn to treasure the Law just as David does. Is the Word of God more desirable to you than gold?
The psalm continues past the point where the hymn ends, and it takes a turn that we do well to remember: “Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” The Law of the Lord is a two-edged sword. It is a source of comfort and encouragement, “sweeter than honey.” It is also a warning. The same Law that blesses the obedient also curses the wrongdoer.
Thus the psalm concludes with supplicating penitence. David doesn’t confess any specific sin in Psalm 19, but “who can discern his errors?” David is concerned with secret sin. “Declare me innocent from hidden faults.” Do you ask this of the Lord when you pray?
David finishes by looking forward. “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins.” Confess today’s sins to the Lord, but also commit tomorrow’s battles to Him. He is faithful, and He will keep you, just as surely as the sun rises in the east.