The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
and follows its course to the other end.
Nothing can hide from its heat.
The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
The laws of the Lord are true;
each one is fair.
They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
They are a warning to your servant,
a great reward for those who obey them.
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (NLT)
I believe, along with the psalmist, that the bedrock reality of the world is God created the heavens and the earth. Furthermore, God has given us very great and precious promises through a gracious law. All creation reflects the Lord’s wondrous character. The sun is a constant presence bringing light, warmth, and life to the earth – just like God.
Everything in creation bears the mark of its Creator to such a degree that it is almost as if the creation itself speaks. Even at night, it’s as if our God keeps constant vigil over us, gently enveloping us in divine presence and protection.
If this were not enough, God has given people a perfect law with all its right precepts, clarity of commands, and truthful statutes. God’s law, like the Lord’s creation, reflects a gracious divine character. We were not left alone to fend for ourselves – to try and figure out everything about how-to live-in God’s big world. Like a caring and conscientious mother, the Lord has provided the Law, to provide us with sure footing and solid direction. The law of the Lord is so good that it is more valuable than gold, and more desirable than any food.
Since all this creation and law is freely available to us, it is a good thing to memorize and meditate on this very psalm. Perhaps take a few verses with you out for a leisurely walk in God’s good creation. Carefully reflect on them as you notice the grand scope of God’s vast sky, and the intricacies of God’s small details. Let it all rise to a paean of praise and appreciation to the God who notices, has acted, and will intervene.
Different cultures have multiple words for things which are important to them. For example, in most Asian countries there are various words for “rice” depending upon which strain it is and in what manner it is cooked. Rice is important to them. In America, we only have one word for “rice” no matter where it comes from or how it is prepared. Whereas the country of Indonesia might only have one generic word for “money,” we in the West have a plethora of terms for it: coins; bills; dollars; checks; debit accounts; stock; bonds; annuities, etc. Americans have dozens of words for “money” because it is weaved into the fabric of our capitalistic way of life.
In today’s wonderful psalm, we encounter several words for “law:” testimony; precept; commandment; instruction; decree; and rule. So, a healthy way to approach God’s Holy Word is to pay careful attention to the various instructions and commands because they are important.
The law of God is to be as familiar to the Christian as Jesus and the Spirit. We need God’s guidance and direction to live rightly and with pleasure. When we look at the law with gratitude and seek to obey God through it, we will learn to avoid sin and lead a blameless life. Thus, to commit God’s Word to heart and to memory would be sage for every believer.
Most of life, as you well know, is lived in the mundane. We drive and walk the same well-worn roads and paths; spend much time each day doing routine ordinary things; repeatedly say the same things to our kids, day after day; engage in ordinary chores; and, worship in predictable ways. Excitement is certainly to be had, but it is more the exception than the rule, even in these days of pandemic and change. Patience, perseverance, and plodding comes with living wisely. It is the norm for realizing a thriving and flourishing spiritual life.
Psalm 19 is a celebration of God’s self-revelation. Through both nature and law, God is made known to humanity. What is more, God’s moral and ethical teachings provide insight for living a good life for all persons everywhere.
Wisdom in the Old Testament is the combination of knowledge and practice. It is the application of God’s self-revelation to concrete situations in life. We live wisely when we get to know the sovereign God of creation and use revealed mores and ethos as our guide in daily experiences.
We need God’s gracious revealed law. It is not just for theology nerds or spiritual eggheads; God’s law is for everyone – the learned and the unlearned. Every one of us needs the guidance and direction of God’s Holy Word, and the careful application of it to all our circumstances.
You and I are shaped and formed as godly people as we allow God’s natural and written revelation to awash us and seep into our souls. Reading this psalm out loud, slowly, and contemplatively, more than once, is an opportunity to let our common ordinary experiences transform us.