Reflections of the Psalms – Psalm 19

Posted on: September 1st, 2013

The 19th Psalm has to be one of my favorite psalms. So much is touched on in just 14 verses! Just to read and consider the thoughts in this psalm is a real blessing in itself.

Most Christians have met people who spend a great deal of time agonizing over the question, “Is there a God?” Still others spend as much tine trying to prove that there is NOT a God. David’s answer was very practical – Look around you and SEE this world! In the birth of baby birds and other animals, in the blooming of the flowers, and the industrious flying of the bee, God’s hand is seen everywhere. Those that question that there is a God must always deal with the beauty and mystery of life.

David wrote, “Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge.” Yes, unless we deliberately deny what we see, the universe bears constant witness to the presence of God. Each plant and insect is like an incredibly small organic computer that has been programmed to function a certain way in nature. The heavens function with such mathematical precision that space craft can be sent to where a planet or a moon will be so that an orbit and landing can be accomplished. The unmanned spacecraft Galileo visited the planets, and many of the moons of the solar system. The trip took over two DECADES, yet that tiny craft arrived at each point exactly when it was supposed to.

Science can describe “what” happens in the universe or “how” it happens, but the question “why” must come from another area. For David and for these that will not be blinded by the god of this world, that other area is, of course, God.

The first six verses of Psalm 19 are remarkable in themselves, but David didn’t stop there. After considering His creation, David then thought about the way that God deals with His people. Today, many people do not understand how God can be a God of love and a God of law at the same time. How can there be a place of punishment?

Even more people do not understand how the Law of Moses and the various statutes of God fit in with the God of love. A popular idea is that the Law of Moses was imperfect or a mistake and Jesus had to come to correct what was wrong. Nothing could be farther from the truth. David wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple…” Verses 7 through 10 focus on the “rightness” and “goodness” of God’s law. Then, in verse 11, David wrote, “By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward”.

The Law of God, the expression of God’s will is good! The problem comes when people do not understand the purpose behind the law. Paul wrote that the Law was a Tudor, or school master, that was designed to teach, restrict, and bind humanity until the time for maturity had arrived. The law, any law, shows us that we are Imperfect and that we cannot completely fulfill the requirements of any law. Law can never show mercy or love. Law can only judge one as being guilty or not guilty.

Paul wrote that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We will never win our way to heaven through law. Yet, that was never the purpose of the Law. Law showed mankind what the perfect and righteous God requires. There can be no blemish or stain of sin. If the laws of God are obeyed, then a person will experience joy and peace. But of even greater value, the Law of God pointed to the fact that something else was needed before the door to salvation could be opened.

Beginning with verse 12, David asked a very important question, “Who can discern his error?” Too often we can’t see “the forest for the trees”. There are things that we do that are wrong and, yet we are so involved in the world that we don’t realize what we are doing. It took the words of Nathan to wake David up to his sin with Bathsheba. Why do we need the Law? The law reveals what is sin in God’s eyes. What can we do about our sin? Nothing! Our only hope comes when we embrace the salvation offered through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yes, Psalm 19 is a true jewel. It shows us God in His creation. It shows us the righteousness of God in His law. It shows us our need for forgiveness, and it shows that the forgiveness we must have comes through the Good News message of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice.

Jim Shelburn