A Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving
The heavens declare, proclaim and recount the glories of Jehovah and praise Him by day and by night. Such is the message we find in Psalm 19, a psalm of David. In the first part of this psalm, David expresses his awe at the grandeur of the heavens and describe the unceasing music and proclamations of the galaxies, stars and planets as they praise Jehovah and his handiwork. The second part of the psalm shows the attributes of God’s perfect law and how it helps us as we follow the path of God’s will.
As I wrote this article, I found there was too much to write about. The original product was some 4000 words in length or about eight pages. Too much! I thought. So I pared it down and cut out some extraneous items and left what I considered to be the bare bones as far as information is concerned. Then, thinking it was still too long, I was going to omit a large section of the psalm, but in the final product, which is what you have before you, I left it alone. The psalm is a whole entity and deserves to be presented in its entirety. It is not the original eight page article, but it is about half that, maybe five pages.
Let the Heavens Praise the Handiwork of God
Psa 19:1 To the chief musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens are recounting the glory of God, and the expanse proclaiming His handiwork.
The stars and planets are voicing an accounting of the glory (abundance, splendor, dignity, reputation, honor) of God. They are rehearsing the splendor of Jehovah. The word “recounting” indicates a continuing action; they are forever declaring God’s glory. First used in Genesis 1:7, the firmament (here translated as “expanse”) not only shows, but proclaims, the handiwork – the craftsmanship – of Jehovah.
Psa 19:2 Day by day they pour forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
The days and nights overflow with the declaration and praise for Jehovah and his works. Day gives way to night which in turn gives way to day in the never-ending cycle. Their recounting and proclamations are never ceasing! The knowledge of God accumulates as time moves on. Each day has its own lesson in regard to the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of God, and it is communicated from one day to the next. Each successive night reveals its own knowledge about God. There are as many lessons conveyed about the greatness and majesty of God by the silent movements of each night as there are by the light of the successive days.
Psa 19:3 There is no speech, nor are there words where their voice is not heard.
The language of the heavens is universal – no one, anywhere, regardless of the language they speak, can look at the grandeur of the night sky and not be filled with awe of the Creator’s work and His glory. Even the most remote tribe in the world feels the greatness of God that is portrayed not through words, but through visual communication.
Psa 19:4 Their measuring line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world; in them He has set up a dwelling-place for the sun,
In the Bible, when an author refers to a line, he is likely talking about measuring a distance and less likely about setting boundaries. If we follow this line (no pun intended) we see that the domain of the heavens encompasses all the earth and no part is left untouched.
But the definition also refers to the cord or string of a musical instrument which makes a sound when plucked so we arrive at a different sense of the word, i.e., it is a sound that conveys the instruction or glory of God. Most translations use the word voice which is in line with the proclamations of the instruction, glory, and knowledge of God in the first verses of the psalm.
Psa 19:5 and he comes forth like a bridegroom from his canopy. He rejoices like a hero to run a race;
A wedding is a joyous time – for both the bride and the bridegroom, and here the concept is used as an image of joy and cheerfulness. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is our perpetual Bridegroom, always joyous, always cheerful. He is confident as he goes about the day’s tasks.
Psa 19:6 his going forth from the end of the heavens, and his orbit to their ends; and nothing is hidden from his heat.
The sun takes a long journey from horizon to horizon, tracing the entire circuit of the heavens, sweeping the whole space across the firmament, illuminating the earth and leaving no part untouched. The bridegroom, too, spends the whole day in details of his work and all feel His presence.
The Law of Jehovah and Its Teaching
There are six descriptions used in verses seven through nine to describe God’s truths. They all refer to the same truths, but reference some distinct view of the truths themselves, or of their effect on the soul: e.g., law, testimony, statutes, commandment, fear, and judgments.
Psa 19:7 The Law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul. The Testimony of Jehovah is sure, making the simple wise.
The “Law of Jehovah” refers to the law as given by Yahweh; His true and unadulterated doctrine, not the law that has been written, developed, reviewed, rewritten and published according to the desires of a certain denomination or group. The word used here – Torah – is used in the Old Testament referencing the law of God. It is usually translated as “law.” The word actually means instruction or precept or teaching.
Testimony means that which is borne witness to; it is the revealed truth to which God bears witness. His testimony is against sin and on the behalf of righteousness. It makes the simple wise to the divine workings of Jehovah and to the reality of salvation. It makes us see our folly and through the Law or Word of God, we shall be made wise.
Psa 19:8 The precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart. The commands of Jehovah are pure, giving light to the eyes.
All of Jehovah’s laws are righteous and are made for our good. This is why we rejoice. The law convicts, but cannot save because man cannot save himself through works and legalism. This is the reason Jesus became one of us and died that we might have atonement from the sins of which we were convicted through the understanding of the law.
The commandments are pure and unadulterated by false teaching or compromise. Because of the purity of the truth contained in the commands, it enlightens the disciple. Enlightenment cultivates discernment in and of the world. The scriptures help us to see truth.
Psa 19:9 The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever. The judgments of Jehovah are true, they are righteous altogether.
The fear of Jehovah is pure and edifying, enduring forever — it cultivates inward piety, cleanses from the love of sin and sanctifies the heart in which it reigns. The grace of God is pure, lasting forever and incorruptible. The kingship of God, even in these troubled times, is not shaken and this is a great comfort to all who look to Yahweh for provision and protection.
God’s judgments are true and righteous and need no excuses for justification. His decisions, as revealed in the law are truth itself. The power of His decisions is invincible and their justice is beyond doubt or reproach.
The Value of the Law
David tells how the Law is important to him and of the value he has received from it.
Psa 19:10 They are more precious than gold, even much fine gold, and sweeter than honey and drops from the honeycomb.
The truth of the law is a spiritual treasure that is more precious than gold or material wealth so it should be desired and sought after with great eagerness. Think of what we do to obtain gold: we are happy to work long and hard for that little flake of gold that we find in the bottom of our pan and in some cases we will even take life-threatening risks for it. Shouldn’t we do as much for love of truth? Understanding the testimonies of Jehovah gives us the greatest satisfaction and they set our lives in order. The most wholesome of earthly delights, while enjoyable, are worthless in comparison.
Psa 19:11 Also Your servant is warned by them; in keeping of them is great reward.
If one is warned or admonished he is more likely to keep to the laws. Having been warned, the disciple keeps them and in the keeping, sees the light concerning the truth in them and finally sends out light to clarify the law to others. The great reward that the psalm talks of comes either as the result of (1) keeping the law because a careful observance of the laws of God will be followed by rewards hereafter or (2) that the act of keeping them gives so much peace and happiness that it constitutes a satisfactory reward.
Psa 19:12 Who can discern errors? Acquit me from secret faults.
The psalmist asks who can tell if he has sinned. The answer is that no one person will see all the sins we have committed – not even he himself can know all of them. Through the keeping of the law the knowledge of his sin is revealed. But David is especially concerned with his secret sins – those that not even he knows. Understanding this, he prays that his secret sins be purged from him. Not just forgiven, but removed, totally, from him.
Psa 19:13 Also withhold Your servant from arrogant sins; do not let them rule over me; then I shall be upright, and I shall be innocent from great transgression.
Presumptuous sins (“arrogant sins” in the passage quoted) are dangerous. Every sin is rebellion, rebellion against and rejection of God; but some sins have a greater degree of rebellion, and the sin of pride against the Lord is one of them. It is important to know that the presumptuous sin had no atonement in Jewish law. This is why he wanted this type of sin purged from him. Atonement was provided under the Jewish law for every kind of sin, there was this one exception:
Num 15:30 And the soul that does anything with a high hand, whether of a native or of the alien, the same blasphemes Jehovah. And that person shall be cut off from the midst of his people.
Because of their nature, presumptuous sins could very well be the chief and worst of all sins.
With the sacrifice of Jesus, there is forgiveness for sins of pride perpetrated against the Father, but that sin must be pardoned and not taken to the grave with the sinner. David’s psalm shows his anxiety about coming under the power of the presumptuous sin; that is why he wanted secret sins to be purged from him.
Secret sin is a stepping stone to presumptuous sin. If we have a sin that no one knows about and we seem to have escaped calamity, then aren’t we more likely to become prideful about our position and wouldn’t it be easy to build more pride because of that? This is why, because of the prayer for purging and the knowledge provided by the law, David says, “Then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” This does not mean that he would be absolutely innocent, but innocent from this greatest of sins: presumptuous sin.
Psa 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing before You, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer.
This verse needs to be written in the hearts and minds of every believer who truly loves and has the purpose to do the will of God. It needs to be in the forefront of our thoughts at all times as we navigate through life and interact with people around us. We Christians need to remember we are the ambassadors of Christ and what people see in us is how they come to see Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for reading. God bless each of you in every way and may he make His face shine upon you.
(The text of Psalm 19 is from Green’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible.)