Today’s reading: Psalms 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:9-11
CS Lewis considered Psalm 19 “the greatest in the Psalter, and the most perfect lyric in any language.” And it’s hard to argue with him. It is a perfect Psalm about God’s perfect Word.
The first six verses describe how God has made Himself known in creation, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Theologians call this “general revelation” because it is a revelation of God that is available to all people, regardless of religion or culture (“there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard”). The evidence of God’s existence is plain to anyone with eyes to see. Paul makes this same point in Romans 1:20: “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.”
Significantly, verses 1-6 use the generic name for God (“El” in Hebrew). But then, verse 7 shifts from “El” to “Yahweh” as the Psalm moves from describing the glory of God in creation to the glory of God in His Word. “Yahweh” is the covenant, personal name of God. David is teaching us that while creation provides evidence of God, only through God’s Word can we have a relationship with Him.
- Through His law, He revives the soul.
- Through His testimonies, He makes the simple wise.
- Through His precepts, He rejoices the heart.
- Through his commandments, He enlightens the eyes.
- When we fear God, we will endure forever.
- When we obey His rules, we understand His righteousness
By the way, Psalm 19 also serves as a handy condensed version of Psalm 119. The 176 verses of 119 contain extended meditations on eight different Hebrew words for God’s word. Six of the eight are in Psalm 19.
So, through Psalm 19 we can praise God for His perfect creation and his perfect Word. The last verse brilliantly captures both halves of Psalm 19: David calls God “my rock,” an image from creation that can be known by general revelation. But he also calls Him “my redeemer,” a truth that can only be known by special revelation.
Here is the prayer that came from my heart as I reflected on Psalm 19 this morning:
O my God, I praise you,
For your stars and your statutes!
Your canyons and Your commandments!
Your creation and Your covenant!
Your oceans and Your ordinances!
Your works in the heavens and Your words in the Hebrew!
Let me prove Your existence from creation, prove Your character from Your Word, and praise You for both. Amen.