Sermon on Ps. 19:1-14, preached on 15 July 2018.
Bible Readings: (OT) Psalm 19:1-14 / (NT) 1 Timothy 3:1-17
I. The creation reveals God’s glory (vs. 1-6)
II. The word reveals God’s salvation to man (vs. 7-11)
III. The penitent man finds his Redeemer (vs. 12-14)
Observing seasonal changes in our world is amazing. It’s accurate and systematic – spring gives its way to summer and summer to fall, then, to winter. This sequence of change is never mixed; none of these seasons is skipped at all. When this winter goes away, spring will come with blossoming flowers. Seasonal change is not the only one that amazes us; everything in this world does. Trees and mountains, fields and rivers, oceans and continents are absolutely beautiful in forms and all living beings in them live in a perfect harmony which marvels not only the eyes of researchers and documentary producers, but also the minds of ordinary people like me and you. All are the works of the Creator God who is incomprehensible.
In contrast to the beauty of the nature, mankind is problematic. Everywhere men exist and dwell, there are troubles and such evils as hatred, crime, destruction, extinction, and so on. Such things are the products of mankind, not of the nature.
Ps. 19, a psalm of David, points out this clear contrast between the nature and humanity which are God’s created beings. By contrasting, this psalm urges men and women, boys and girls, young and old, to lift up their eyes and note this contrast. Then, by seeing it, find the way of life and blessing laid before their eyes. It is like a trumpet blast that notifies the break of a new dawn, waking up sleepy souls to see the bright rays of the morning sun. Then, find the way and follow it which is the way of life and eternal blessing. In this sense, this psalm is the gospel call, leading sinful hearts to the Saviour Lord through repentance and faith.
By the grace of God, let us hear this message with three points; first, ‘the creation reveals God’s glory,’ second, the word reveals God’s salvation to man, and third and last, the penitent man finds his Redeemer.
I. THE CREATION REVEALS GOD’S GLORY (vs. 1-6)
Before hearing about ‘the creation’s revelation of God’s glory,’ I want you to ponder upon the beauty of God’s creation. God’s world is so beautiful in its colours, shapes, textures, strength, sizes, depths, both small and great. When we stand before the grandeur of God’s world, we hold our breath. When we face great sceneries of deep valleys or mountain peaks or ocean depths, their breathtaking beauty catch our eyes and minds. Everything is so beautifully designed and precisely arranged; they reveal the power, wisdom, knowledge and glory of the Creator God!
So, God’s creation is good – good to our eyes, good to every creature as was to the eyes of the Creator who said ‘good’ at the end of every day of His six-day creation, then, having completed all, said, “it was very good.” David the psalmist raises his voice in the first verse of the nineteenth psalm and talks about God’s glory revealed through all things of God’s creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” It’s quite true to say ‘heavens’ in plural because there are indeed different ‘heavens’ as several vertical layers in heaven, such as troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere, and so on. Surely, the heaven we have above us is ‘heavens.’
Furthermore, David looked around God’s world and writes vs. 2, 3 and 4, saying, “Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” David bestows the capacity for speech and knowledge accumulation to things like heavens and sky. He adds the capacity of hearing to them. They have no such capacity; such belong to mankind only.
But, David doesn’t worry about that, but willingly advocates these skills of God’s created nature for one purpose, that is, to highlight their obedience to the law of their Creator. Every creature in God’s creation willingly, actively and enthusiastically obeys to the law of God set in the beginning. What was decreed by their Creator, they keep and comply. Moreover, they transfer their obedience to God’s law to the generations after them. Seeing it, David says something like this: ‘These creatures – plants, trees, wind, water, mountains, birds, fish, heavens, all kinds of animals, and the things in heaven like the sun, the moon and stars – are the most zealous, the most passionate and faithful worshippers of the Creator, revealing and proclaiming His glory and the work of His hands! What they do exceeds any means of human communication! They transfer all and everything of God’s decree, precisely and perfectly, never missing any of it! Their work is beautiful and righteous before God!’
David is amazed even further by the fact that this proclamation and transfer of God’s glory is a never-ending work of God’s creation. It began from the time of their first existence and it is still happening at this very moment, and the same will continue until the very end of this order of God’s creation.
So, in four verses of this psalm, David explains us about the gist of the works of the entire creation of God. And he gives us some examples of this in vs. 5 and 6. David doesn’t say in this psalm, but we can easily hear him saying as in Ps. 8:1, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
II. THE WORD REVEALS GOD’S SALVATION TO MAN (vs. 7-11)
Then, David turns his eyes to the Word of God that reveals the Lord’s salvation to man. What amazes me in these four verses is his repetition of one thing, that is, the word of God. He renders it in six different terms and explains its nature in two ways.
He starts with ‘the law of LORD’, then, continues with ‘the testimony of the LORD’, ‘the precepts of the LORD’, ‘the commandment of the LORD’, ‘the fear of the LORD’, and ‘the rules of the LORD.’ Some scholars have given each word a different meaning, but I think all are the very ‘word of God.’
Why did David state God’s word in six different ways? Because he could not satisfactorily describe God’s word in a word. The Apostle Paul in the NT agrees and says in Eph. 3:18-19 that “[you] may … comprehend … what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Because this fullness of God is too great, surpasses knowledge, he employs more words to describe the very nature of God’s word.
Listen to David’s explanation, beginning from v. 7, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul, … is sure, making wise the simple, …is right, rejoicing the heart, … is pure, enlightening the eyes, … is clean, enduring forever, … is true, and righteous altogether.” How many adjectives, the words that describe its nature, are there in these short verses? Seven. Perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true and righteous. Each word is by itself self-explanatory and self-contained. See what ‘perfect’ defines. It includes all and every information. Being perfect means complete and without defect or blemish. What about ‘sure’ and ‘right’? What about ‘true’ and ‘righteous’? In David’s heart, even such words as ‘perfect,’ ‘pure’ and ‘clean’ were not enough to illustrate the words spoken by the Creator and all-wise God. He needed all of them; maybe he could’ve written tens of adjectives or hundreds, if God allowed him.
The beauty of God’s word is that it revives and saves the soul! None can change anyone’s mind, let alone reviving his soul. But, the word of God can! Furthermore, it surely can make the heart joyful, making wise the simple! Isn’t this amazing?
Moreover, this word that came from the mouth of God is the pure and condensed revelation of God to us. In other words, God revealed Himself to us in these words of the Scripture. Look at the stars of the sky, or a flower in the field. Can you hear and understand God’s word through them? Do they speak to you about God, teach you about His salvation? You may find God’s power and wisdom wrought in them, but cannot hear their voice, nor have a knowledge of eternal salvation. But the word of God is different; you can hear the very voice of God, speaking to you and reviving your soul to bestow upon you His blessing of eternal life! David understood this; he realised the loftiness of God’s grace and the magnificence of His saving plan bestowed upon the Word! That’s why he repeated the same thing in six different ways.
Then, at the end of the last one, he adds the nature of God’s word in two ways. Firstly, its price or worth – it’s more precious than gold. What he wants to say here is that God’s word cannot be compared with pure gold or anything precious under the heavens. It’s beyond comparison; it’s the only and uniquely precious one. Secondly, the taste of it – it’s sweeter than honey from the comb. Again, his point is that God’s word is the only thing that is good, tasty, sufficient to satisfy us all now and forever!
David adds one more to it in v. 11 – that is, the reward for all who keep them. While he employed seven words to describe the nature of God’s word, he uses only one word here to explain what sort of reward it is – ‘great’ reward. But David put every meaning into this one simple word, ‘great,’ and it is enough for all true believers to understand! After all, this ‘great’ reward is from the ‘great’ God!
In short, David is astonished by what God’s word truly is; it reveals God and His salvation to us perfectly, surely and righteously. It is, therefore, the jewel of God’s work. Nothing in this universe is like the word of God. Its testimony to God’s salvation is clear and beautiful. And it tells us this in a language we can understand! The word of God is the key for us, not only to find the Creator, but also to know and abide in Him through faith! After all, the word incarnate, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, invites us to come to Him who is the way and the truth, and the life!
III. THE PENITENT MAN FINDS HIS REDEEMER (vs. 12-14)
The nature’s revelation of God’s glory surprised David. Yet, the testimony of the word to God’s salvation truly amazed him. Being excited, David looks around and finds himself and all fellow members of mankind. Then, he says in v. 12: “Who can discern [God’s] errors?” In this verse, he sounds like declaring before all humanity a truth that no one can deny, that is, ‘God is righteous and perfect!’
Then, immediately he makes a petition to God, saying, “Declare me innocent from hidden faults.” It’s like, he prostrates before God and seek His mercy and forgiveness of sins. It’s a complete change of the scene. He’s been saying, ‘Wow! The world declares God’s glory; they are faithful to their Creator; they worship Him through their obedience. Then, hear the word of God! It’s pure and perfect and reveals God’s salvation to man! How splendid and gracious the word of God is!’ But, in a moment, he prostrates and petitions, ‘Forgive me, God!’
He gives up hope – that’s what he is doing here. What I mean is this; he compared himself and his fellow men with all things in God’s creation and, then, with the word of God. Then, he found no hope in man because all men alike are full of sin, disobedience, rebellion against our Creator God. Even a weed in our gardens or a flea has an incomparably better and greater hope than man because of its faithful obedience to the law of God and because men’s detestable crime against God, denouncing Him as their Creator God and declaring themselves as kings.
David saw nothing in himself or in his fellow men that might be regarded as righteous before God’s eyes. Nothing! What makes the situation even worse is that he can’t really count how sinful he is before the righteous God and how many sins he has been stored up. So, he falls down and prostrates before God and cries in desperation, ‘Forgive me! Forgive all my sins – even those sins hidden to my eyes!’ He continues, confessing that he cannot resist evil, thus, asking God’s protection from it. Only then, he says that he “shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.”
It’s so weird when I think about David and us all in humankind. We’re the only creatures who received so many privileges and blessings from God. We’re unique. Even the closest species to us is far from what we have with our spirituality and mental capability. Actually, we’re the only ones who received those. But, at the same time, we’re the only ones who rebelled against our Creator and deny Him who granted those to us. We’re the only ones who rejected God’s kingship over us, but declared our autonomy, our independence, unlike all the others in God’s creation. All of them, except us, choose to die out, instead of disobeying their Creator. Take an endangered species, for example. If their natural habitat disappears, they just die out because they can no longer keep the plan of God set for them. Some fish cannot bear a few degrees of water temperature change; some birds cannot keep their lives because they can no longer find enough prey in the region they live, so they die out. They don’t compromise with their situations to continue their life.
But, we, humans, are so different. We still live with all sorts of compromises with our sinfulness, against God’s law. We’re the ones who should reveal God’s glory and declare His salvation louder than any creature because we’re made in the image of God! We’re originally the image bearers of God! But, we abandoned all these in sin, in our arrogance, pride, self-centredness.
David saw this clearly. And he lays his body together with his heart flat on the ground, prostrates before God, and seeks His mercy, calls on his Redeemer, his Lord and our Lord! The Hebrew word translated into ‘Redeemer’ in v. 14 means ‘one who becomes ransom.’ And who is this ransom for David and for us? Jesus Christ who is the word incarnate, our Lord and Saviour! By Him alone, through Him alone, you and I alongside David are saved!
Like David, we sought the name, Jesus Christ; like David, we sought His cleansing blood! By His name alone, we became blameless and innocent of great transgression! Hallelujah! What a grace and blessing this is! Then, the only prayer you and I and David all alike can say is this: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer”!
In this psalm, David, being inspired by the Holy Spirit, leads us, first of all, to join God’s creation in glorifying the Lord through our obedient life, then, to deepen our joy in the Lord, hearing His voice from the Scripture and following its guidance. Let us know how precious the word is to us, believers – it’s the most precious jewel given to us! All glory to God, our Creator, and His Son Jesus, our Rock and Redeemer! Amen. ***