Posted by: Heather | May 11, 2009

Psalm 19 revisited (The Heavens Declare the Glory of God)

I am responsible for keeping the schedule of speakers in our fellowship. Yesterday, we did not have anyone signed up to speak, so I fell back on the passage I have been meditating on for a couple of months. I realize I posted on this before, but my thoughts have more detail than before, and besides, there is no way I could say all that should be said about it! So, feel free to worship along with me once again.

First, I would like to encourage each of you to memorize scripture. Our family memorized Psalm 19 together a couple of months ago. Since then, Psalm 19 had been the “background noise” in my mind when I am not thinking about anything else. It keeps replaying in my head, and as a result, I find myself looking things up or pondering questions about it. It has been a very rewarding experience.

Here is the text:

Psalms 19:1-14
(1) To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse proclaims His handiwork.
(2) Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
(3) There is no speech nor are there words; their voice is not heard.
(4) Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
(5) and he comes forth as a bridegroom from his canopy; he rejoices as a strong man to run a race,
(6) going forth from the end of the heavens, and its course is to their ends. And there is nothing hid from its heat.
(7) The Law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of Jehovah is sure, making the simple wise.
(8) The Precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart; the Commandments of Jehovah are pure, giving light to the eyes.
(9) The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of Jehovah are true and righteous altogether,
(10) more to be desired than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
(11) And Your servant is warned by them; in keeping them there is great reward.
(12) Who can understand his errors? Oh make me pure from secret faults;
(13) and keep Your servant back from presumptuous sins; do not let them rule over me; then I shall be upright, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.
(14) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Let’s start with verse 1.
Psalms 19:1
(1) To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the expanse proclaims His handiwork.

The NASV says that the heavens “are telling” the glory of God. This is actually a more accurate translation of the verb tense used here. The heavens have not stopped telling the glory of God since creation.

Secondly, I really like the use of the word “expanse.” This word is used 17 times in the Old Testament, and it is sometimes used to mean the sky where the birds fly. But other times it speaks of the place where the stars are. Looking at the context here, I think the second use is more appropriate.

I can’t think of a better word to describe where the stars are than “expanse.” Let’s think about this for a bit. It is hard to begin to understand the enormous size of the expanse. When we begin talking about the stars, we measure in light years. We are used to hearing scientists talk about light years, but they are so far beyond what we comprehend. Let’s try to get some scale here. light (if it traveled in a circle) could travel around the world in the time it takes to snap your fingers. If a ray of light left the sun, in a path toward the earth, it would take just over 8 minutes to get here. If it continued on it’s way, it would take a little over 12 hours to leave the solar system. It would travel for more than 4 years before it passed our nearest neighboring star. If we could travel with this ray of light until we could look back and see the entire Milky Way Galaxy behind us in one panoramic view, it would take 100,000 years. We would have to travel for 10 billion years before we reached the end of the known universe. There are approximately 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. Ours is a rather average sized galaxy, and there are approximately 100 billion galaxies in the known universe.

Do you get the idea that the “expanse” is rather large? Psalm 8 says: “When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers . . “ The work of his FINGERS!!! What if he used his arm? What if he put his whole body into it?

The expanse is proclaiming his handiwork.

(2) Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

Again, this has been an on going thing without interruption since he spoke them into existence.

What kind of knowledge? Did you know that if a person knows the stars, they can use the position of 2 stars in the sky, and the time of day to triangulate their exact location? When David wrote this psalm, he was king of Israel, so I think he probably knew that sailors used the stars for navigation. And this navigation tool uses reference points totally outside of our world.

(3) There is no speech nor are there words; their voice is not heard.

You know, not many people have actually heard God’s voice, yet it is there for those who pay attention. It is just seen and experienced rather than heard with our ears.

(4) Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,

No matter where you are in life or on the planet, the stars shine on you the same. They are universal. Then David stops talking about the stars and begins talking about the sun. The sun is exactly where God wants it to be. He put it in place, and it has obeyed Him since.

(5) and he comes forth as a bridegroom from his canopy; he rejoices as a strong man to run a race,

The sun is fully up to the job. It does the job it was designed to do, and does it well.

(6) going forth from the end of the heavens, and its course is to their ends. And there is nothing hid from its heat.

The sun is the source of all of the heat on the earth. Without it the earth would be nothing but a frozen sphere in space. While the stars were referred to as a symbol of God’s universal direction and truth for our lives; the sun is used as a picture of God’s universal care and provision – without which our lives would not even be possible. All mankind benefits from this blessing.

So David has used the heavens as a picture of something we know, to open our minds to a concept we cannot see. The passage began with a blanket statement that was followed up by a detailed explanation. This statement was, The heavens declare the glory of God” verse 7 begins with a companion statement; The Law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul;” He then goes on to first describe this perfect law, followed by an inside look at the converted soul.

“the testimony of Jehovah is sure, making the simple wise.” God’s testimony is His story of what is true. When God tells us about Abraham in Genesis, this testimony is true. This testimony is given to us with the express purpose of helping us to know God better and thereby obtain wisdom.

(8) The Precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart;

Precepts are statements about how things work. An example would be Proverbs. (This results in that, so do the following) God’s precepts bring us joy. Jesus said he came to give us life, and to give it abundantly. John said in the book of 1 John that he wrote the book so our joy would be full.

the Commandments of Jehovah are pure, giving light to the eyes.

This came from the MKJV. I was preaching from the ESV, and also studied the NASV in preparing for Sunday’s message. Both of them had the word “commandment” (singular rather than plural) God’s commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus said to love one another as He loved us. Singular or plural, this is the essence of God’s command to us. When life is viewed through this commandment, we can see clearly, and we are enlightened as to what God wants for us. It makes things make sense as far as what is important and how we are to behave.

(9) The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever;

I must say I have struggled in grasping what is intended here. I have two thoughts. First, there is no fear of evil intent in the fear of God. Second, the fear of God has a purifying effect on me. Any fear of God is the result of my own evil, not His. This has a continuing cleansing effect on me.

the judgments of Jehovah are true and righteous altogether,

This has the idea of His rulings from the bench. The more I though about this, the more excited I got. God saw fit to place my condemnation on Jesus. So the verdict in my case is that I am His son. This was not a short cut, or an under the table deal. I can hold my head high as His child, because His judgements are true and righteous altogether. It appears that David was ecstatic about this as well:

(10) more to be desired than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

It is as though he is stretching to find the right words to express his ecstasy and cannot find them.

This enlightenment both warns and rewards me as I pay attention.

(11) And Your servant is warned by them; in keeping them there is great reward.

So he has described the perfect law of the Lord; now he shows us the converted soul:

(12) Who can understand his errors? Oh make me pure from secret faults;

In this line he addresses our need to have God’s outside influence in discerning our error. He then throws himself upon the mercy and grace of God.

(13) and keep Your servant back from presumptuous sins; do not let them rule over me; then I shall be upright, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.

In this line he deals with our own audacity as we presume to disobey the God who made the very heavens. However, without God deciding to disallow sin to rule over us, we would be doomed.

(14) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer.

If it was not for God’s judgement in my favor, and Jesus’ sacrifice in my place, this last verse would be the height of audacity. That the very God who is proclaimed and glorified by the heavens could ever be pleased by the words of my mouth or the meditation of my heart is inconceivable. But He is my Rock and my Redeemer. PRAISE HIM!!

Craig


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Responses

  1. That is a great passage to have your family memorize! I think I will try to do the same.

  2. The Psalms are so good for showing us the Majesty of our God! Thanks, Craig, for the good word.

    <>~Squirrel<>

  3. Hi Craig & Heather,

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