Psalm 19: An Exposition


In this Psalm we read of God's revelation of himself in the book of nature, book of the law and the book of human life. God makes his glory known through his works, through his law and through his servants, so that man is without excuse of not comprehending such apparent glory and giving him his due praise. A great artist is giving praise and honour according to his works. When men see such fine beauty upon a canvass, there is generally an audience of applause and praise to meet the man's talent and greatness. If a worm could receive such high accolades from other worms, how much more should these worms praise him who is God when they view the greatness of his works in creation, the surpassing beauty of it, the endless depths and mystery still yet undiscovered. 


This is why David could say when he surveyed the heavens above that the heavens declare the glory of God. Vs1. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. What is meant by the heavens? The word heavens refers to the material heavens as they appear to the human eye, namely, the sun, moon and stars and all of its host which is further away from our earthly sky. We can add to these the distant galaxies, the planets and the Milky Way.

The word glory in this text means the majesty, greatness, beauty and skill of God that can be deduced when we behold the awesomeness of all the starry host. The Sun displays the light of God, although ever so dimly, the stars display his bountifulness although ever so little, and the universe displays his limitlessness although ever so limited. All these dumb wonderful works are there to appear to our fleshly eyes to convey to our mind the surpassing greatness of their creator who consequently is also our Creator.


God has left mankind an abiding testimony of his glory in the heavens and this testimony is no mere hint, but a plain, unmistakable declaration of God's invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature. But yet as one writer declares, yet for all this, to what avail is the loudest declaration to a deaf man, or the clearest showing to one spiritually blind? God the Holy Spirit must illuminate us, or all the suns in the Milky Way never will. It is a Christian soul that rightfully comprehends the wonders of creation and give glory to the trinity to whom praise is due for all the works of God's skilful, creating hands. The rest of mankind may know something of this greatness but by large, the origin of such wonderful design is generally attributed to an idol or the non-entity called chance. This is a great folly; but yet God has made all these things for the comprehension of man and in their comprehension of their greatness they are to see the brightness of his glory which should cause their hearts to exceedingly praise and so fulfil that for which they were made.

 And the sky proclaims his handiwork.

Let us not be so heavenly as to not consider the heavens and the sky above. God has made us earthly, material creatures with a mental capacity to interact with or see other material things He has created in his universe. It delights the heart of God if men would go about their garden to testify to the beauty of a flower, or to marvel at the diversity of bugs and worms and growth of vegetables. These things are easily comprehendible to our eyes, but when we consider the glory of the sun to that of a flower they are almost at the opposite ends of the horizon. The flower we may touch, stroke and pluck its leaves, but the Sun, our naked eyes can only bow and declare that our eyes is unworthy to gaze, let alone linger at its radiant light and glory. If men's naked eyes must bow before the Sun, how much more must it bow or burn before the Living God. But God in his infinite mercy and love, in his kind disposition towards man has appointed man a means of grace that any one of them, man or child may know him and view his splendour and greatness with the eyes of their mind and truly know His kind, gentle, and reconciling nature.

The Glory of God is displayed throughout all of his works as we have seen with the heavens. This is to show that He is a great artifice who stationed, arranged and fitted together the starry host of heaven in such a wonderful and comprehensive order, that nothing more beautiful or so vast and deep in its depths or detailed can be imagined. When one compares a man's invention of the computer to God's design of the DNA, we see that there is no comparative worth. God has set some things he created in a fixed sate and some to have pleasure to move in the course he has set for them. Man is to move, run, walk, sit or stay in the path that God has bid them to walk. But man cannot set the day or night in motion, or give it a decree that day and night should obey. It is God who set the day and night in motion. It was God who decreed their motion from the day of their delivery.

Vs 2. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. These two never seeing friends regularly proclaim the glory of God, they remember that it was God who created them and gave them their duty in creation. When day comes, the night must depart with joy; and when day has finished its dutiful love then it must depart to its chambers. These two never seeing friends in their duty reveal the knowledge of the goodness of God. They remind mankind that God has given them light for the day, for them to run their errands and proceed in business, building and doing whatever work their hands find to do. And night was given to shut the eyelids of men to gain rest for their souls, for after-all they are flesh and blood. These two never seeing friends are a perpetual testimony to mankind, and although when immortality comes upon the children of God, day and night will finally disappear, finishing their testimony about the true light who is to be the eternal light of those who loved his appearing.

 
Vs 3. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Although day pours out speech yet day has no voice, nor words to which the human ears can discern as to be a voice of another being. Day's voice is silent, her speech can only be perceived in the heart through the eyes.
 
Night's revealed knowledge cannot be heard but it can be felt. Her silent voice goes out through all the earth, it travels to all the ends of the earth and her silent words to the ends of the world. Is this not a dim shadow of the gospel? But the gospel will be heard audibly, reaching all of the peoples of the earth and those to whom grace has been given irresistibly will behold the awesomeness of the call and heed its message.

 No man nor nation can deny their testimony, for the language which they utter although without words is universal. They declare the glory and majesty of God and all I believe can understand the language of the heavens.

 
In them, that is in the heavens he has set a tent for the sun. The sun we can say is the champion of the sky. It is her that illuminates our day, and when she is hidden or dwelling in her tent we are left with the warm comfort of darkness. But when she arises again from her dwelling place, all creation is full of morning cheer, anticipating the afternoon feast. When all their joys has been completed they are ready for the shade of the night. God in his infinite wisdom has made the sun to dwell in the heavens, to place it in its tent and not in ours, because the sun is a raging fire ready to consume all those that draws near. This is an ample picture of God's infinite glory, namely, that God in his infinite wisdom has given man the earth, namely the material kingdom and that He himself dwells ever far away from them lest he consumes them in his burning anger. But great is the love of God for sinful humanity that He condescends in loving grace to greet mankind with a kiss. He condescends into their meetings, (those with faith) He speaks with them as a man speaks to his friend and He clothes his glory lest they should burn and be turned into ashes.

Like the Sun nothing is hidden from His heat of righteousness. Every evil shall be punished, every deed done shall be displayed in the open on that terrible Day of Judgment; but the Sons and Daughters of God will run for all eternity across the earth in great joy. They will be the sun of the new earth replacing the sun in this world for they will represent the light of the glory of God as the sun was meant to represent here. Of Course the light of the trinity will shine ever brighter but the sons and daughters of the kingdom will display something of that light.

 
As the righteousness of God on that day will reveal every evil work, it will be revealed through his holy law. For vs 7. the law of the Lord is perfect. Those that do not live according to the law of God have no dawn.

 
Vs 7-9 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, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.

 
Contained in these three verses are heavenly treasures more to be desired than gold. They are to be hungered for more than the drippings of the honeycomb. Those who have no awakening of the delight and sweetness of these fine treasures will have no great desire for them, or will see no beauty in them that it should cause them to lean their whole lives upon it with excessive joy. Pleasure will not be their stimulus if they should so desire such treasures, but fear which arises from an unclean heart and a fear of punishment. Those who are glad to sing of their pursing of these treasures are those who have a true hearty feeling for the Father who ordered them, because they have seen in the Father an infinite excellence. The fact that God has spoken it is enough. We know that it is for the glory of our good and pleasure and for the glory of his good name on which he has set on us such precepts and laws. It is not to burden us but for us to gain every inch in approaching his presence and ultimately to enjoy fellowship with him. Although we see these laws active in the Old Testament, yet because of Christ’s accomplishments beyond satisfactory work on the cross, all the demands and threatening’s of the law has been met on our behalf, and we like Children can enter freely and joyfully into their Father’s deepest chamber.

 
The Psalmist knowing something of the sweetness and pleasures of God's holy laws and precepts tells us six things:

 
1. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.

2. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

3. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.

4. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

5. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

6. The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

 

1. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.

 
The Law of Yahweh is perfect, that is, His law is whole and complete. There is not a single spot of blemish that one could say, ah, here is a deficiency in the ways of God. Like the Psalmist who had seen a limit to all perfection, but yet he could not see the limit to God's commandment for they are extremely broad. It is from His laws that God's righteous decrees shines forth, His unwavering ways are made known. If one cannot find out the deep things of God then how can one find out the limit of the Almighty when it comes to His law? They are complete, they are whole and therefore it revives the soul of those who take it to heart. The thief who no longer commits his ways to the corruptness of his own heart but follows the decree of God shall be revived and have a great deal of joy and good conscience.

God's law is perfect because God is perfect. "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect". The Law of God is not burdensome as the apostle reminds us. And Christ did not leave us without a law to follow. "If you love me, obey my commandments". Those who have set their face towards this hill of perfection know that this hill cannot be climbed without the helping hands of grace. Who can stand when God determines to judge fallen man according to his Holy Law? None at all for all must perish. But grace has made a way for men's soul to be revived through the law of the gospel, namely, bestowing upon them the distinguishing merit of Christ on their behalf, so that at each moment if they will turn from their sins and obey God's law in believing the gospel, then their unclean soul shall be revived.

 
2. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.


There are souls ready to make God to be a liar. In the ministry of Jesus there were those who were not satisfied with his testimony. They would say that he was a liar and a great sinner for marring the ways of God. But Christ spoke plainly and truthfully. His testimony was sure making wise the simple. Was is it not infants who had their eyes and ears opened to see the truth of Christ in the words that He spoke to them? Yes it was, for Jesus said “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” Those who were wise in their own eyes could not believe the heavenly Love of the Father when it was spoken to them that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but will have everlasting life. This testimony was shunned at by Jews who demanded a sign and by Greeks who sought wisdom. But those who have no business in philosophy, nor know anything of the knowledge of the universe but were only humble, teachable in spirit, knew something which a sage ought to be ashamed of, namely to take God at his word. If God has spoken, He speaks the truth, for God is not a man or the son of man that He should lie.

O Christian, do we not have in the words of God His sure testimony towards us? We have a testimony of his love, of his grace, of our forgiveness, of our justification, of our sanctification and of our glorification. Will you make him to be a liar by denying these great truths? O be simple in your faith and you will be made wise. Have a teachable Spirit, be humble towards your God and never doubt his testimony.

 
3. The precept of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.

A precept is a commandment, an authoritative rule for action; in the scriptures it is generally a divine injunction which man's obligation is set forth. God has given us his precepts in order for us to keep communion with him as it was instructed in the Old Testament and His precepts are to be kept diligently. Men at work will take great diligence in keeping in step with the rules of the workforce in-order to do everything right and proper and according to the right instructions. If this be man's natural disposition towards earthly instructions, how much more diligent ought we to be when it comes to heavenly instructions.

There is a great fault with man, namely, that He is a sinner and his natural disposition towards the precepts of God is that of Hatred. Men have this notion in varying degrees but all are condemned because of their blindness and deafness to the ways of God. There is no one righteous says the Apostle, and there is no one good. This is because all have in some measure or another not heeded entirely to the instructions of heaven and are void of its understanding. This is why the Psalmist could say or rather pray, "Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works". Those who have been given the heart of understanding will have a heart ready to meditate on the works of God because they find his precepts to be so trustworthy that they rejoice in it.

I know not where people have this religious notion that the words of God makes the heart dull and the soul miserable; they say that the precepts contained in them are just not the way of entertainment and joy. It is not the way of happiness. We would like to do what our hearts tell us. When we feel today to show kindness we shall, and when tomorrow we wish to gamble we shall, and when the next we wish to hate our enemy because of a sport, we will. In this principle we are free when we follow the dictates of our own hearts but the law of God is a burden, an hindering burden to our satisfaction. This they say having a darkened understanding of the true purposes of the precepts and commandments of God not knowing that it is pure, and enlightening the eyes, rejoicing the heart. I shall tell you why men often don't understand it, it is because they have not been born again. Because they have not been born again they cannot enjoy the things of God, they cannot submit their carnal minds to true righteousness and whenever they feel moved to do so they can never do it with true joy, with that distinguishing kind that brings glory to God Almighty.


4. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.


As His law is perfect so His commandment is pure and clean. There is not a stroke of unrighteousness in his commandments nor a hint of error. It is pure as He is pure. Those who retire daily to sit under the commandments of the Lord are those who will have enlightened eyes. They are those well suited to speak of ethics and govern the laws of the land. It is a shame that many who now wield the sword of justice are those who appeal to their own reasoning and dictum and have utterly forsaken the school of God's commandments. They have dimmed it as darkness and backwards, whereas it is the means of their enlightenment and to have a rain of blessings upon their land.

 

5. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.


Sin speaks to the wicked deep in their heart because there is no fear of God before their eyes. If they had the fear of God in their soul, they would not indulge in sin and commit their ways to falsehood, rather they would be clean and stay far away from that which they know at any moment could bring down the wrath of God from heaven. Abraham knew something of this cleanness which was what drove him to obey the voice of God in willing to slay his only child. Joseph feared God therefore He made a surety to his brothers that if they did as he commanded then he would surely do as he said concerning them.

The fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil, therefore anyone who professes to fear God must by nature have a clean fear of Him by hating evil. And this fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding, and therefore God’s praises will last forever. Those who have long made many adventures in the landscape of eternity will have this clean fear remain in their hearts, they will know that God is to be feared still and praised for his holiness and righteousness.

 

6. The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

The rules of God or his judgment are true and righteous. They cannot be separated. They are married eternally and until eternity ends these two will never cease. God's rules are true, they cannot be found untrue. A wise man will build his house upon them and make it his daily business to proclaim them. Those who have made it their business to learn God’s righteous rule will be those who will praise him with an upright heart; and although Christ has made us clean yet there is a need to grow into maturity into the ways and living of the kingdom.

These Six things are to be desired, they are to be nailed upon the doors of our hearts as to be read upon our coming and going out. And of course the content of these six things ought to be found decorating our house, glancing upon them and reading them to instruct our lives.


Those who have stored up these six things in their hearts are those who have really been grieved at the misery of sin, purposing not to sin against the Holy one. They store it up because they love Him who decreed them. These six things act as hammers of warning to keep them away from the parlour of wickedness. In keeping these things there is a reward namely the sweetness of fellowship with God. Those who say they know him and yet walk in the darkness have no light in them but they who keep his words are those who walk with him in light.

My dear Christians, those rules which our Lord gave us in his beatitudes are not to gloom our days but to enrich them. They are there to keep our heart light, away from the heaviness of sin and for us to walk in the gardens of heaven with our God. Although Christ justifies us perfectly, yet there is an holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

 
V12. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

Those who have treasured up these six things in their heart will be better equipped to discern their own errors. They will know that they are indeed a great sinner in need of a great saviour. It is that saviour who hung on a sunny afternoon on a tree in Calvary, who has made a way for sinners to be made right and declared innocent, nay, more than that, righteous.


V13. 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. There are those who will not surrender to God's Sovereignty in all things. Some of them have maintained such a goodness of human will that they are not sensible that it is God's good hands who restrains the evil of men's heart. It was God who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, meaning, that God merely removed his restraining hands of mercy from Pharaoh allowing Pharaoh to unleash all the rebellion that was contained in his own prideful heart. The Psalmist clearly had a sense of this notion for He pleads to God that God may keep him back from presumptuous sin. The Psalmist in effect is praying, Dear God please do not remove your grace from me, do not leave me to myself lest this pent up sins inside me be unleashed and destroy my environment.

It was God himself who said to Abimelech in a dream that, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.”

The act of presumption is heavily denounced in the Old Testament because it is written in Deut 17:12-13, “The man who acts presumptuously by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear and fear and not act presumptuously again.”

The Psalmist feared and thus prayed for this arrogant sin not to have dominion over him or to so consume him as to sin against his Maker whom He loved. The Psalmist saw this sin as so heinous that if he were kept back from committing it that He shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. As one writer puts it, ‘He who is not wilful in his sin, will be in a fair way to be innocent so far as poor sinful man can be; but he who tempts the devil to tempt him is in a path which will lead him from bad to worse, and from the worse to the worst.’


The Psalmist ends his song to the choirmaster with a sweet prayer, prayed in humility to his Father in heaven. Vs 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.  Words of the mouth are an abomination to the Lord if it is not found to be so in the heart. 'These people honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.' Our speech should always flow from the meditation of our hearts - we should beware of that viper named hypocrisy and be rather people of one mindedness. We should not let our heart walk one way while our mouth has gone the other way. While men may know nothing of the better when flattery is used to win their heart, yet it will not be so with God. He knows the depths of our heart which is why it is written that because Jesus knew what was in man he would not give himself to them. But O, how corrupt we all are that it is grace that aligns this two principles, and it is the blood of Christ that bids us acceptance in the divine presence.


The heavens may declare His glory but Christ Jesus our Lord is the exact representation of his Glory to whom we are being conformed to. Take heart Christian, see his glory in creation but see it more exceedingly and beautifully in Jesus Christ.
 
K.Oni

 

 

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