The Law of the LORD
Psalm 19
As the heavens glorify God by happily moving under his laws of nature, so too shall we be satisfied by living under his laws for mankind.
Published March 1st, 2018; Updated March 1st, 2018
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Main point summary
Viewing God's Law Rightly
Main point summary
God's law brings joy and life. So just as the heavens glorify God by happily moving under his laws of nature, so too shall we be satisfied by living under his laws for mankind. Yet as lawbreakers, our only hope for such a reward lies solely upon God's mercy and protection. May it please him to answer as our refuge and rescuer.
Viewing God's Law Rightly
In Psalm 19, David observed that the immeasurable expanse of the heavens points us to praise the Creator of the heavens himself (vs 1). Using the metaphor of speech, he explains how the message concerning God's glory is clearly communicated at all times (vs 2) and in every place on Earth (vs 4). And he explains further by way of example using the sun. From our perspective, the sun rises from one end of the horizon and sets at the other end, bringing light and heat into the world (vs 6). It does so predictably day after day and without fail. One might think that if the sun were a personal being, it would have a sad existence because it is constrained to run the same course over and over again. Yet David compares the sun rising to a bridegroom on his wedding night– a most joyous occasion. Moreover, he compares the sun's streaking across the sky to a strong man running with joy (vs 5). In other words, although the sun follows the same course day after day, it is as though it does so with great joy. In the following section, David shifts his focus to praising the law of the LORD. Through a series of parallel verses, he describes the law as having godly characteristics (e.g. perfect, righteous, pure, etc.) resulting in blessings for its followers (e.g. life, wisdom, joy, etc.) ( vs 7-9) . And he concludes that keeping the law is more precious than the finest gold and more satisfying than fresh honey (vs 10). Yet for many people– Christians included– hearing the term "the law of the LORD" does not immediately inspire images of beauty, joy or satisfaction. On the contrary, it can often inspire images of being in bondage, being overly restricted or being a heavy burden. The psalm teaches us, however, that such views are short-sighted. For just as the heavenly bodies (e.g. the sun) glorify God by happily moving under his laws of nature, so too shall we be satisfied by living under the law of the LORD. A negative view of God's law is not due to any deficiency in the law itself, but due to the constant inclination of man to transgress that law. Just as David meditates on his own inability to discern his errors (vs 12) and cries out for God's mercy and protection as his only hope for salvation (vs 13), we would do well to follow in his example. Let us therefore not look on the law of the LORD with contempt, but as that which reflects the character of God himself. Let us confess our own inability to keep it and continually trust in God's provision of mercy and protection. Finally, let us remember that David was looking forward in faith to such a provision from God, but we know such a salvation has already been fulfilled for us in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is himself our rock and our redeemer.
Psalms 19:1-14
i The heavens declare the glory of God,
The heavens cry out in celebration of God's greatness.
and the sky above 1 proclaims his handiwork.
In other words, the expanse above Earth praises the beautiful craftsmanship of the Creator
Day to day pours out speech,
Let me explain: the heavens gush forth a sermon day after day
and night to night reveals knowledge.
and they insightfully preach God's revelation night after night
There is no speech,
Moreover, there does not exist any sermon–
nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
that is, any message resounding God's greatness– whose preaching goes unheard.
j Their k voice 1 goes out through all the earth,
Rather, the preaching of the heavens resounds throughout the earth
and their words to the end of the world.
that is, their message is known even in the far corners of Earth
In them he has set a tent for l the sun,
even as the majestic sun itself inhabits the heavens
m which comes out like n a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
that is, the sun which breaks the dawn like a glowing bridegroom coming out of his bedroom in celebration on his wedding night after consummating for the first time
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
and then the sun happily dashes across the sky like a runner in full strength.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
In other words, the sun rises from one end of the heavens
and its circuit to the end of them,
and then finishes its course at the other end
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
with the result that there is nowhere to hide from its hot rays.
o The law of the Lord is perfect, 1
[The heavens– always joyfully submitting to God's law like the sun– cry out in praise of God's greatness] because Yahweh's law is blameless
p reviving the soul;
such that it continually restores life to the soul;
q the testimony of the Lord is r sure,
and because Yahweh's witness is certain
s making wise t the simple;
such that it continually imparts wisdom to the naive mind;
u the precepts of the Lord are right,
and because Yahweh's edicts are just
rejoicing the heart;
such that it continually brings joy to the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is v pure,
and because Yahweh's command is undefiled
w enlightening the eyes;
such that it continually brings light to the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
and because Yahweh's reverence is spotless
enduring forever;
such that it lasts for eternity;
the rules 1 of the Lord are x true,
and because Yahweh's decrees are trustworthy
and righteous altogether.
such that they are completely just and right.
More to be desired are they than y gold,
Therefore knowing Yahweh's laws is more precious than possessing gold
even much z fine gold;
that is, even more precious than possessing pure gold;
a sweeter also than honey and drippings of b the honeycomb.
and knowing Yahweh's laws is more sweetly satisfying than eating fresh honey straight from the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
Moreover, as your servant I am warned by your laws not to break them
c in keeping them there is great reward.
but instead to seek your generous reward for continually submitting to them.
d Who can discern his errors?
Nevertheless, because no one can keep track of all their shortcomings in light of God's law
e Declare me innocent from f hidden faults.
therefore count me guiltless from my unintentional transgressions.
g Keep back your servant also from h presumptuous sins;
Moreover, protect me, your servant, from defiant and flagrant sins
let them not have i dominion over me!
but do not let me become their servant!
Then I shall be blameless,
Do these with the result that I shall be above reproach
and innocent of great transgression.
and guiltless of high-handed rebellion.
Let the words of my mouth
In other words, this is the confession of my lips
and the meditation of my heart
and the reflection of my inmost being.
be acceptable in your sight, O Lord , my j rock and my k redeemer.
May this prayer be pleasing in your eyes, O Yahweh, my strong fortress and my deliverer from sin.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.