We’ve all heard from many voices in these past weeks. From communities, to movements, to protesters peaceful and violent, to politicians, talk radio, news, various podcasts, even sport stars and celebrities are chiming in. Who would’ve thought? There is no doubt in the midst of all the voices out there today there is one voice that rises over all of them, one voice that we need to hear more than any other, one voice that truly can give life and speak to all that occurs in our experience. Of course this voice is God’s voice. And as we open His Word to hear from Him now, may I remind you of the power of words. Words matter. Words can build empires as well as destroy them. Words can encourage, empower, and enliven the heart just as they can discourage, wound, and cover up all sorts of wrongs. James 3 likens the tongue to a small rudder on a great ship, easily turning it wherever it so desires. Proverbs 10 speaks of the lips of the righteous being able to feed many while fools die for a lack of sense. It is no small thing to consider then, that God has actually given the ability to speak. But it is a greater thing to consider that God has given us His Word hot breathed from His mouth. Words matter.
As we draw near to Psalm 19 this morning, we come to a Psalm that is all about words. Specifically about how the words of creation and the words of Scripture reveal the wonder of God, and how they together lead us to a certain set of words in response to God.
Psalm 19 has suffered a violent history of being torn apart by scholars. Many have thought Psalm 19 to be two Psalms kind of awkwardly mashed together because there seems to be two separate and unrelated songs present: one about creation in v1-6 and one about Scripture in v7-11. But I disagree and think you should disagree as well. There might be two songs here in one Psalm but to say they’re unrelated is to go too far. Rather I think these two songs are quite unified and headed in the same direction. You see, I think they’re the two books God has given all mankind to read. The book of creation where God speaks to us about Himself through nature, and the book of Scripture where God speaks to us about how we are to glorify and enjoy Him.
We could simply say it like this, God speaks to us in the skies and in the Scriptures. But ask the question: is there a difference in how God speaks through these things? If so, what is it, and why does all of this matter? Psalm 19 makes all of this and more, clear.
Before getting into v1, notice what is sometimes called v0 or the heading. “To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.” This phrase lets us know Psalm 19 was written by David and was meant not just to be read aloud but was meant to be sung by the people as they gathered together in worship. This again points to our main idea today, these words are meant to move us, not just for the sake of emotion, they’re words meant to move us to see and delight in the wonder of our God.
Let’s look at them now…
Creation’s Words (v1-6)
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. 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. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.”
There is no build up or waiting, v1-2 begins by launching us out and upward into the heavens where we find those heavens not idle or inactive but busy in a never ending proclaiming, or preaching, or telling-forth. What are they busy proclaiming? Not just a vague kind of ‘glory’ or splendor, not even the glory of ‘mother nature’ but a very specific glory, the glory of God. Every day and every night this is what they’re busy proclaiming, that they as the heavens aren’t to be praised as wonders in and of themselves as some do but that they have been made by God, that they are the works of His hands, that they are not to be the object of our worship, that we must go beyond them to the God that made them. They know that, and they’re busy proclaiming that, do we know it? The message of the heavens isn’t that we’re too look up at the sky and have some kind of a spiritual experience with nature or become one with our surroundings, no. The message of the heavens is that when we look at the heavens we should see the God who made them. Or we could put it like this. Not only are we to be those who are actually aware of creation and those who look up and notice the beauty of the heavens, but those who recognize that as great as the heavens are in their starry host by night and their bright beauty by day, the God who made them is greater and more glorious. And oh the glory of it all is that this isn’t just possible for us on some occasions, no. Since the day the heavens and all creation was made to the day when they’ll be undone and remade in the end, and every day that passes in between there is ample evidence of and a stout testimony to God’s glory in what has been made.
In v3-4 the nature of their speech is expanded on in a curious contrast. In v3 it says that there is no sound to their speaking, that their speech is never heard. But then in v4 it says their message has gone out to throughout all the earth and to all the world. It seems then, that while there are no literal words heard in their proclaiming, their proclaiming is clear enough to be understood. To some the sky and stars are just sky and stars. But to those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear, there is a sermon to be heard, a symphony to enjoy, and a God to be known! One poet put it like this, “…though no real voice nor sound, amid their radiant orbs be found; in reason’s ear they all rejoice, and utter forth a glorious voice, forever singing as they shine, ‘The hand that made us is divine!’
As we leave v4 and come to v5-6 it’s as if David wants to illustrate what he’s just said. And where does he turn for his illustration? The sun. He says God made the heavens to be a tent for the sun. He says the sun is like a groom leaving his chambers after his wedding grinning from ear to ear in the joy of his wife. Or the sun is like a strong man approaching a race with eagerness and running the course with mighty joy from one end of the heavens to the other. And while this mighty champion is running no one can escape his vigor and heat. So the sun, the heavens, and we could add ‘all creation’ is telling-forth the glory of God.
With all this preaching and proclaiming creation does I wonder if Psalm 19 was in Paul’s mind when he wrote Romans 1:19-20. There he says, “For what can be known about God is plain…because God has shown it…For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So all men are without excuse.” Clearly then Paul understands what Psalm is all about and says because creation reveals God’s power and divine nature all men are without excuse. So in a true sense, all men know God in this way, but sadly, many suppress that knowledge. Perhaps you’ve heard someone ask, or maybe you’re asking yourself ‘I don’t hear creation telling me about God, about His power and majesty and glory. I just see skies and stars and the world.’ Maybe think about it like this. If you’re shouting at someone whose standing five feet away from you and they don’t answer, that person is either deaf or they’re ignoring you. Right? Now apply that to Psalm 19 and to Romans 1 and think, if I don’t hear the sermon or the symphony of creation could it be that I’m deaf? Or maybe more pointed, could it be that I’m ignoring God? Only in a fallen world can one look at the brilliance and beauty of the world God has made and conclude that God had nothing to do with this. Creation’s words remind us that the God of glory has everything to do with this.
But we don’t stop here. Yes God reveals Himself through what has been made, through creation as v1-6 has said. And what’s revealed is stunning indeed. But can learn the gospel from nature? Or, is nature the only way God speaks to us? We’ve heard ‘Creation’s words’ in v1-6, Psalm 19 now tells us about…
Scripture’s Words (v7-11)
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts 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 rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
Did you notice the shift in v7-11? In creation’s words in v1-6 we only hear God’s name once in v1. “The heavens declare the glory of God…” The Hebrew word for God in v1 is ‘El.’ ‘El’ was a common word for God in Hebrew used by many people in that day in different ways, which is why it comes through into English as just ‘God.’ Notice the difference in v7-11? We not only see God’s name show up a total of six times in this passage about Scripture’s words, but we a different name for God used, we see the divine name, the covenant name of God ‘Yahweh’ which is why it comes through into English with all caps as LORD. Why point this out? Because while creation does reveal God to the world, it only reveals God generally. But when we cross over to v7-11, Scripture’s words, we see God revealed to a whole new level. Here He is Yahweh, the God intimate with His people, and faithful to them in covenant. Or we could just put simply and say: in v1-6 creation’s words reveal God as Creator, while in v7-11 Scripture’s words reveal God as Redeemer.
Well just like v1 did before, v7 now launches us out once again but this time we’re launched into higher glories as a list of Scripture’s characteristics cascade of out David’s pen. Passages like this inspired Isaac Watts to write many hymns. The hymn of his we read earlier is one of these and it follows Psalm 19 in its flow. “Thy heavens declare Thy glory, Lord, in every star Thy wisdom shines; but when our eyes behold Thy Word, we read Thy Name in fairer lines. The rolling sun, the changing light, and nights and days Thy power confess; but the blessed volume Thou hast writ reveals Thy justice and Thy grace.” Let’s focus in on these characteristics. There are six of them in v7-9 and they are beautiful.
1) v7a, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul…”
2) v7b, “…the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple…”
3) v8a, “…the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart…”
4) v8b, “…the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes…”
5) v9a, “…the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever…”
6) v9b, “…the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.”
We could very simply say this is poetry at its finest, here we have six lines basically saying the same thing. But pause with me, linger here, and notice not only what it’s saying, but how it’s saying it.
See the nouns first: Law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and rules. These words all speak of how God has clearly, carefully, and compassionately detailed how He desires us to live before Him. He hasn’t left us in the dark but has instructed us thoroughly on what He requires of us.
See the adjectives second: perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. Could a better set of words be found to describe God’s Word? No sir. God’s Word is all of this to us, and because of these things His Word is trustworthy, stable, and gives our feet firmness in the waters of this fallen world. More so, because God’s Word is this to us, we do not find anything in Scripture that God calls us to as oppressive. Hard? Sure. Difficult? Indeed. Oppressive? Not in a million years! The doctrines in Scripture show us what we must believe, the commands show us what we must do, the warnings show us what we must avoid, and the promises show us all that we can hope for!
See the verbs third: reviving the soul, making wise, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, enduring forever, righteous altogether. The nouns helped us see that Scripture’s in view here. The adjectives help is feel the proper way about Scripture. And now, these verbs help us know what Scripture does to us. There is a progression to see here. Through His Word God makes us alive, makes us wise, makes us glad, makes us sensible, and makes us endure.
Just the other night Jack and Luke and Walter and I were out riding bikes and it was near sunset but too many trees were in the way to see it. Well we turned a corner and there before us was a sight to behold. Coming through a group of thin trees you could see it: the oranges, the reds, the blues and golds, were all mixing together and streaming out toward us. It was a privilege to behold. As wondrous as that sight was, as much as it gripped my soul, do you see what’s actually here before us in v7-11? The glories of Scripture shine out in far brighter beams. Just as the heavens cannot be stopped in proclaiming the glory of God, just as the mighty sun cannot be stopped as it runs its course, so too the Word of God cannot be held back, no, it will accomplish its purpose and bring forth all that God desires in us. And just as there can be no life on our planet without the sun, so too there can be no true life in man without the Word of God.
The only way to respond to this comes next in v10-11, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” We do not hold the Scripture high enough, if we do not prefer it to all the riches in the world.Do you believe that? Does your life show it? Does your study of the Word reveal it? Are you eager to dig and dig into God’s Word knowing gems of dazzling beauty are deep within it, or do you settle for raking the leaves on the surface? Those who settle to just rake are settling for lesser pleasures. But those that dig deep find the Scriptures to be sweeter than honey. Yes they warn us and keep us from dangers on all side, but in keeping them the reward of knowing and communing with God is truly great.
So far we’ve seen creation’s words in v1-6, and Scripture’s words in v7-11. Psalm 19 now makes one last shift as it brings forth…
Our Words (v12-14)
“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
The dazzling wonders of creation and Scripture brought us to the heights of praise and adoration, but as v12 begins we come back to us, and do you see how the shock is almost too much? It’s a bit jarring to see David respond by going immediately from glory to confession here. David prays for a clearing of the charges against him, for forgiveness from sins known and protection from sins unknown. Once these come he’ll be as he ought to be. All of this culminates in a plea in v14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” The heavens proclaiming the glory of God as Creator is acceptable to God, the Scripture proclaiming the glory of God as Redeemer is acceptable to God, now David reveals the heart of a believer by pleading that his life would be in line with the heavens and in line with Scripture by also being acceptable to God.
We began this morning by saying words matter. In the midst of a time when many voices are airing opinions of all kinds, some in very needed and good directions and others not so much, it is God’s Word and God’s voice that is needed more than all else. And today in Psalm 19 we’ve seen words and the wonder of God as we’ve heard His voice in the two books He’s written: creation’s words and Scripture’s words. And ultimately hearing from both of these leads David to confess his many sins and plead with God to make him blameless. But we know, David would never experience this blamelessness in life.
Only one man, the Lord Jesus Christ ever experienced 100% of what is said here in Psalm 19. And wouldn’t you know it, Jesus just so happened to be called the Word as well. He was and remains to be the Word that was with God, the Word that is God, and the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. And He as the Word revealed what to us? The glory of God. How? By living yes, but by dying on the cross to bear the sin of all those who’d ever believe in Him and rising to secure their victory.
So it isn’t out of bounds for us to conclude by saying this: in whatever season of life you find yourself in right now…true beauty and adoration can flow forth from looking at creation. But we need more than that. Only Jesus and only the gospel of Jesus Christ can revive the soul, make wise the simple, rejoice the heart, enlighten the eyes, make us endure and righteous altogether.
Some of you are right now far too easily pleased. Your satisfied with lesser pleasures, maybe sinful pleasures even. God is telling us today to raise our eyes higher. Look at creation and see the glory of God yes, but look higher. Jesus is more to be desired than gold. Jesus is sweeter than honey to those who tasted and seen how good He is. Knowing Him and being known by Him is the greatest reward in all of life.
 Roger E. Van Harn and Brent A. Strawn, Psalms for Preaching and Worship: A Lectionary Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2009), 88.
 Bruce K. Waltke and James M. Houston, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2010), 340–51.
 James Johnston, The Psalms: Rejoice, the Lord Is King, Vol. 1, ed. R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word Commentary (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2015), 203.
 Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David – vol. 1 (Mclean, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing, reprint) 270.
 Van Harn and Strawn, Psalms for Preaching and Worship: A Lectionary Commentary, 89.
 William S. Plumer, Psalms (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 2016), 254.
 Derek Kidner, Psalms – TOTC (accessed via Accordance Bible software, 6.5.20) 117.
 Johnston, The Psalms (Volume 1, Psalms 1 to 41), 207.
 Van Harn and Strawn, Psalms for Preaching and Worship: A Lectionary Commentary, 90.
 Johnston, The Psalms (Volume 1, Psalms 1 to 41), 207.
 Kidner, Psalms – TOTC, 118.
 Plumer, Psalms, 257.
 Spurgeon, Treasury of David – vol. 1, 273.
 Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 – WBC (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1983) 184.
 Plumer, Psalms, 259.
 Craigie, Psalms 1-50, 182-183.