There are two excellent methods of study in which God has provided for our instruction and edification. One is in creation, in which we may easily understand the power of the Creator and the other is in the scriptures. These make known to us the will of God concerning our obligation. This Psalm teaches us the usefulness of both these methods and how we can advance in our spiritual walk.
Psalm 19 – A Psalm of David
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. 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, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.
Cleanse me from secret faults
Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.
Henry says – In this Psalm we are led to consider the invisible things of God by the things that are seen everyday. In the visible heavens the evidence of God appears incontestably and His glory shines transcendently bright in its beauty and order. This display of divine power serves to show the absurdity of atheists, who see the visible heavens and yet say, “There is no God.” They further see the effects and yet say, “There is no cause.”
They must have a Creator
Creation declares the glory of God by showing His handy-works. They could not make themselves and they could not be produced by a casual hit of atoms, that is craziness. They must have a Creator, with an eternal infinitely wise mind, all powerful and good. Displays of God’s works, the works of His fingers (Ps. 8:3) so declare His glory.
Due to the excellency of the work we may easily deduce the infinite perfection of its great author. From the brightness of the heavens we may interpret that the Creator is light. The vastness and extent of them displays His immensity. The height of them show His transcendency and sovereignty and their influence upon this earth shows His dominion. They all declare His almighty power, by which they were when first made, and continue to this day according to the decrees that were then set.
Man is made to look upwards
Man has the advantage above the beasts, in the structure of his body. Beasts are made to look downwards, as their spirits must go. Yet man is made erect, to look upwards, because upwards his spirit must shortly go and his thoughts should now rise to. The constant and regular succession of day and night speak of the glory of that God who first divided between the light and the darkness (Ps. 19:2): Day unto day, and night unto night. He has from the beginning to this day, preserved that established order without variation.
The counterchanging of day and night, in so exact a design, is a great instance of the power of God. It calls us to observe that, as in the kingdom of nature, so it is of divine administation. He forms the light and creates the darkness (Isa. 45:7), and sets one over the other. It is the same in the instance of His goodness to man; for He makes the out-goings of the morning and evening to rejoice, Ps. 65:8. He not only glorifies Himself in the sunrise and sunset but delights us. As the light of the morning befriends the business of the day, so the shadows of the evening befriend the restfulness of the night.
So with Christ, the Sun of Righteousness
The light and influence of the sun, in a special way, declares the glory of God. Of all the heavenly bodies that is the most apparent and most useful to this lower world. David probably penned this Psalm when he had the rising sun in view, and from the brightness of it took the occasion to declare the glory of God. The heavenly lights are called hosts of heaven, and so are said to dwell in tents, as soldiers in their camps. The sun is said to have a tabernacle or tent set for him. This is not only because he is in continual motion and never has a fixed residence, but because at the end of time, he will be taken down like a tent. Then the heavens shall be rolled together like a scroll and the sun shall be turned to darkness.
The sun, that glorious creature was not made to be idle, but his going forth is from one point of the heavens to the other and back to the same point again. This with such steadiness and constancy that we can foretel the hour and the minute at which the sun will rise on any given day. He appears in all his brightness as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, richly dressed and adorned. It seems a vast round which he has to walk, and he has not a moment’s rest. Yet in obedience to the law of creation, and for the service of man, he not only does it, but does it with a great deal of pleasure and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. So Christ, the Sun of righteousness, also did with such satisfaction finish the work that was given Him to do.
God has made Himself known
This declaration of the glory of God is made to all parts of the world (Ps. 19:3, 4): There is no speech nor language where the voice of creation is not heard. This is used by the apostle as a reason why the Jews should not be angry with the preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, because God had already made Himself known to them by the works of creation (Rom. 10:18).
This Psalm teaches us to give God the glory for all the comfort and benefit we have by the lights of the heaven, still looking above and beyond them to the Sun of righteousness. Yet the holy scriptures, are of much greater use and benefit to us than day or night. It provides the obligations we have toward God and our expectations from Him. Even the discoveries of God through His creation could not cause man to hold onto his integrity. To recover him out of his fallen state, another course had to be taken and that must be done by the Word of God.
The Word is incontestably sure
There are several good effects of God’s Word upon our minds. It shows how wonderful the effectiveness of divine grace is. The law of the Lord is perfect. It is perfectly free from all corruption and perfectly fitted to make the man of God perfect, 2 Tim. 3:17. Nothing is to be added to it nor taken from it. It is of use to convert the soul, to bring us back to ourselves, to our God and to our duty. For it shows us our sinfulness and misery in our falling away from God and the indispensable necessity of our return to Him.
The testimony of the Lord is sure, incontestably sure, what we may rely upon, and may be confident it will not deceive us. It is a sure foundation for happiness and a sure foundation of lasting hope. It is of use to make us wise and wise to salvation, 2 Tim. 3:15. It gives us an insight into things Divine and a foresight of things to come. It will make even the simple wise for their souls and eternity. Those who are humble, aware of their own indiscretions and willing to be taught, will be made wise by the Word of God, Ps. 25:9.
The statutes of the Lord (enacted by His authority) are right, agreeing with perfection the eternal rules and principles of good and evil. All God’s precepts, concerning all things, are right (Ps. 119:128), just as they should be. They will set us to rights if we receive them and submit to them and so they will rejoice the heart.
It enlightens the eyes
The law gives us cause for joy and when it is written in our hearts, it lays a foundation for everlasting joy, by restoring us to our right mind. The commandment of the Lord is pure, it is clear, without darkness and clean without defilement. It is the means by which the Spirit uses to enlighten the eyes. It brings us to sight and sense of our sin and misery, and directs us in the right way. The fear of the Lord is true godliness as prescribed in the Word which needs to reign in our heart, and be practised in our lives. It is clean, and will make us clean (John 15:3) and cleanse our way, Ps. 119:9. And it endures forever.
David highly prized the commandments of God. It is the character of all good people that they give preference to their faith and the Word of God. It is more desireable than all the wealth of the world. More desirable than gold, than fine gold. Gold is of the earth, but grace is reflective of heaven. Gold is only for the body and the concerns of time; but grace is for the soul and the concerns of eternity. They prefer it far more than all the pleasures and delights of the senses. The Word of God, received by faith, is sweet to the soul, sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.
The Word of God is a word of warning
David declared that by God’s Word is Your servant warned. The Word of God is a word of warning to the children of men. It warns us of our obligations, the dangers we are to avoid and the deluge we are to prepare for, Ezek. 3:17; 33:7. It warns the wicked not to go on in his wicked way, and warns the righteous not to turn from his good way. All that are true servants of God take this warning.
By obedience to God’s precepts there is a great promise: In keeping them there is great reward. In keeping faith there is health and honour. There is peace and pleasure and it will make our comforts sweet and our crosses easy. Life will be truly valuable and death itself truly desirable. Such thoughts as these should excite us in our devout affections.
In many things we all offend
David takes the occasion to reflect upon his sins, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. If the commandment be true and righteous then every transgressions of the commandment is an error. Every wicked practice arises from some corrupt basis. It is a deviation from the rule we are to work by and the way we are to walk in.
From the extent and strictness of the divine law, David learns that his sins are so many that he cannot understand the number of them. They are so exceedingly sinful that he cannot understand the evil of them. We are guilty of many sins which, through our carelessness and partiality to ourselves, we are not aware of. We have been guilty of many of them which we have forgotten. God knows more of the evil of us than we do of ourselves. In many things we all offend. It is good that we are under grace, and not under the law, or else we would be undone.
Let me not be enslaved by them
David takes this occasion to pray against sin. All the revelation of sin given to us by the law should drive us to the throne of grace. Finding himself unable to specify all the particulars of his transgressions, he cries out, Lord, cleanse me from my secret faults. They are not secret to God, but hidden from what he could see in himself. The best of men should suspect themselves to be guilty of many secret faults. We ought to pray to God to cleanse us from all guilt and not to lay it to our account.
Even secret faults are defiling, and render us unfit for communion with God. But when they are forgiven we are cleansed from them, 1 John 1:7. Having prayed that his sins be pardoned, he prays that pretentious sins might be prevented, Ps. 19:13. All who truly repent of their sins, and have them forgiven need to be careful not to relapse or return again to foolishness. David prays: “Keep me from ever being guilty of a wilful sin.” We ought to pray that we may be kept from sins of moral weakness, but especially from wilfill sins, which most offend God. They wither our contentment and shock our hopes. “Let none have dominion over me, let me not be enslaved by them.” David’s plea is that: “So I shall be upright.
Let none be high-minded
Presumptuous, wilfill sins are very evil and dangerous. These are of those who sin against the habitual conviction of the Spirit and their consciences. They are in defiance of the law and it is a great violation. Even good men ought to be afraid of sinning presumptuously, though through the grace of God they are kept from them. Let none be high-minded, but fear. We have great need to pray to be kept back from drifting forward towards a presumptuous sin. We need to pray for His Divine help in prevention from the temptation and for His grace in giving us victory over it.
David prays to God to keep him from sin, and then begs that God would accept his performances. For if we favour our sins we cannot expect God to favour us or our services, Ps. 66:18. His services were—the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart, his holy affections offered up to God. The godly meditations of the heart must not be smothered, but expressed in the words of our mouth, for God’s glory and the edification of others.
Let us encourage our hearts in His Word
David was encouraged that his service would be acceptable to God because God was his strength and his redeemer. If we seek assistance from God as our strength in our affairs, we can hope to find acceptance with God in them. This Psalm teaches us to encourage our hearts to be affected with the excellency of God’s Word. We should be very aware of the evil of sin, the danger we are in of it and of our need to fetch help from heaven against it.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The Law of the Lord God’s laws are perfect In them we place our trust They protect us, make us wise and give us joy and light They are pure, eternal and just. God’s laws are more desirable than gold Gold displayed in the finest home. They are sweeter than honeycomb By them are Your people warned. In keeping them there is great reward No one can see his own faults From my hidden faults deliver me Lord Keep me safe also from willful sins. Don’t let them rule over me. Then I shall be perfect From the evil of sin I shall be free May my words and my thoughts Be pleasing in Your sight. O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer, Light of Light! By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. I thank you that the visible heavens reflect You and give You Glory. I give You the glory for all the comfort and benefit we have by the lights of the heaven. Help me to always look above and beyond them to the Sun of righteousness. May I walk in all humility and be aware of my own indescretions. Cause me to be willing to be taught and so made wise by Your Word.
Let Your commandments enlighten my eyes and bring me to sight and sense of my sin. May I be directed in the right way. I pray I will always have a reverential fear of You reigning in my heart and practised in my life. Let it be imbedded in my character to give preference to my faith and Your Word. Let it always warn me not to turn from the good way. I confess that I am guilty of many sins that I am not aware of. Thank You that I am under grace, and not under the law, else I would be undone.
I seek assistance from You
May all revelation of sin drive me to Your throne of grace. I pray to be cleansed from all guilt. Let me be truly repentant of all sins, and once forgiven help me not to relapse or return to them again. Like David, I pray, keep me from ever being guilty of willful sin, let none have dominion over me and let me not be enslaved by any.
In particular help me not to sin presumptuously with a hard heart. But be kept in fear from making them. I ask for Your Divine help in being kept from temptation and for Your grace in giving me victory over them. Help me never to justify my sin that my service be acceptable to You. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You. Help my godly meditations of heart not be smothered, but expressed in the words of my mouth, for Your glory and the building up of others.
You are my strength and my redeemer. I seek assistance from You as my strength in all my affairs and so I can hope to find acceptance with You in them. For by Your strength I have power with You. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.