Observe: Psalm 19 is in three main parts. First, God’s glory is revealed in his creation, and then God’s glory is revealed in his law. These are followed by a prayer for help in keeping God’s law.
In the first part, v.1-6, the psalmist looks at the created order, saying, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” paralleled by “the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Their soundless voices go out everywhere. In v.4-6 the sun is personified as a runner striding through the skies.
Part two, v.7-10, is the psalmist’s praise of God’s law, the Torah. Using language from Hebrew wisdom (making wise the simple, the fear of the Lord, more precious than gold, etc.), we hear echoes of Psalm 119, that long meditation on gracious and righteous living according to the Torah.
Part three, v.11-14, is a prayer for help to avoid the mistakes and sins that come despite knowing Torah, and a final prayer of dedication and offering.
Interpret: The skies above are clearly revealing God’s glory to those who know how to listen to what creation is saying about God. Like the brightness of the sun (nothing is hidden from its heat), God’s law sheds light on us (the commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes). The law of God sheds light even on our hidden faults. God majestically flings out the sky and sun, and God just as majestically declares his glory in his law. Faced with all this glory around us, can we do anything but pray in humility for our souls to be revived?
Application: Frail creatures that we are, still God reveals himself to us: in nature and in his word. I’ve asked many people where they meet God, and often the answer is, in the beauty of the natural world. Being a lifelong landscape painter myself, I totally get it. But sunsets and waterfalls are not enough to really and fully know God. I’ve heard someone say, (I call this golf course theology), “I can worship God on the golf course just as well as in church.” “Sure,” I reply, “but do you? Do you really and truly meet and worship and obey the living God on the ninth hole?” Turns out, nature worship by itself needs God’s word, which is all about what we face when we drive home from the golf course or the lakeside. God speaks through his creation, and God speaks to us through his Word. We stand before both in awe and humility.
Prayer: (Many preachers use v.14 as a prayer before preaching.) “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.”
Hymn: “This is My Father’s World”
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.