The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 19

Psa 19:1


OUTLINE: The modernists say that here are two completely different psalms (vv 1-6,7-14) stuck together by a compiler. If so, that compiler was a genius. However, Bullinger shows how to discern unity here:
A. 1-4b. The heavens. The word written there.
B. 4c-6. "In them" the sun.
A. 7-10. The Scriptures.
B. 11-14. "In them" (Heb) Thy Servant.

The psalm may be seen as a combination of Psa 8 and Psa 119. For other psalms about the glory of God in Nature, consider Psa 29, 65, 93, 104, 107, and 148. The names of God are specially appropriate here: El (the Mighty God) in v 1, and then Jehovah/Yahweh (the Covenant God) 7 times in vv 7-14. Cp the switch from Elohim in Gen 1 to Jehovah in Gen 2; 3. Whereas Psa 8 paints the glory of the heavens as seen by night, this psalm does the same as seen by day. The sky above man and the moral law within man (put there, of course, by God) both testify to the existence of Omnipotence. (See LGS: "Out of Whom are All Things", Xd 1923 May.)

DECLARE: LXX sw Luk 1:1, intimating that the best declaration of the glory of God is in the story about Christ: cp. also Joh 1:14,18.

SKIES: "Firmament" (AV), LXX has sw Col 2:5: "steadfastness" or "firmness" (RSV), referring to the faith of Christ's ecclesia.

PROCLAIM: LXX has sw Luk 9:60: to publish the gospel.

Psa 19:2

POUR FORTH: Heb naba: a spring gushing out water. The word for prophet (nabi) is probably derived from this -- the spokesman who "pours forth" the word of God. See Psa 78:2; 145:7; Pro 15:2.

NIGHT AFTER NIGHT THEY DISPLAY KNOWLEDGE: The knowledge of God's existence and power but not of His character or purpose. Rom 1:20 is not to be interpreted by this verse, but by Eph 2:10.

Psa 19:3

"Where" (AV) is in italics, and should be omitted. There is no voice. It is a silent witness, like that of the Scriptures themselves. ("They have no speech, there are no words; no sound is heard from them -- yet their line goes out into all the earth": NIV mg; cp RV); ct the voice of the Lord in the storm (Psa 29). Every word of Addison's paraphrase, in Hymn 79, ("The spacious firmament on high...") deserves to be carefully pondered. Yet how often it is sung vigorously but without thought!

Psa 19:4

THEIR VOICE GOES OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH: In Rom 10:18 Paul appears to be misusing his Scripture when applying "their sound (LXX) is gone out into all the earth" (apparently about the silent witness of the heavens) to the vocal message of the gospel taken everywhere by the Lord's preachers. This use of Psa 19:1-6 is Paul's way of declaring that this emphasis on the celestial witness to the glory of God is to be read as a parable of the preaching of the gospel, a greater witness to that same glory. JT goes yet further: "This was not all that the prophecy [of v 2] intended. How much more fully will it be accomplished when Christ and all the apostles, prophets, and saints, accepted and approved of him, shall have brought all nations into the blessedness of Abraham and his Seed" (Eur 3:679).

"Their line is gone out through all the earth" (AV) uses a word which means "boundary line" (Jer 31:39; 1Ki 7:23). Apparently Paul alludes to this phrase with ref to his preaching: 2Co 10:13,14; cp Mar 16:15. The preaching of the gospel (and its hearty reception) was the means of marking out a boundary between the heritage of the Lord and the rest of the world (cp the idea of Psa 16:6). And, as that preaching proceeds, it breaks down all other existing boundaries -- ethnic and national and political.

THE SUN: The sun in the heavens is an easy figure of the message concerning Messiah in the Scriptures. In fact, two and one-half verses out of six emphasize this. All else that is mentioned in the world of Nature is Night-and-Day. Christ the Sun (2Sa 23:4; Mal 4:1,2; Mat 17:2; Act 26:13; Rev 1:16) gives Light to all his New Creation, but also comforting warmth to those who appreciate him, and the fierce heat of judgment to those who do not (see also Psa 72:17; Isa 60:1-3; 2Th 1:7,8).

VOICE: "Line" (AV) is sw in Isa 28:10,13; this suggests the idea of simple teaching. LXX, RSV, and other versions repeat the word voice. This involves the addition of one letter to the text, but preserves the parallelism with their words. (The word for "line" may also mean a harp string -- so suggesting itself an audible sound, and thus maintaining the same parallelism.)

Psa 19:5

A BRIDEGROOM COMING FORTH FROM HIS PAVILION: Sym anticipation of the resurrection of Mar 16:2? Or of 2nd Coming of Mal 4:2 (or both)? The new Day is preceded by a Morning Star (2Pe 1:19) and by a brightening dawn as prophecies are fulfilled. "Chamber" is the bridal canopy of protection, referred to in Isa 4:5 ("defence" = covering) and Joel 2:16.

LIKE A CHAMPION REJOICING TO RUN HIS COURSE: "The outset of his military career" (Eur 3:431; cp Rev 19 -- where Christ is first the Bridegroom and then the military leader). Cp the allusion in Jdg 5:31.

CHAMPION: "Strong man" (AV) is gibbor in Heb: a mighty man, a hero -- esp in war. See 2Sa 23:8,9,16,17,22: David's "mighty men".

REJOICING: This Heb verb always means joy in the Lord. Some examples: Deu 28:63; 30:9; Psa 35:9; 40:16; 68:3; 70:4; 119:14; Isa 35:1; 61:10; etc.

Psa 19:6

RISES: "Going forth" (AV) is the sw Mic 5:2, ref to the divine parentage of the Messiah.

NOTHING IS HIDDEN FROM ITS HEAT: Cp Heb 4:12,13, about the (personal) Word of God. Man may seek to hide from him as the Light (Joh 3:19; 9:41; 12:46,48), but he cannot escape the heat of his judgment.

Psa 19:7

Vv 7-9:

Converting the soul
Making wise the simple
Rejoicing the heart
Enlightening the eyes
Enduring for ever
Righteous altogether

(Surely any item in column 1 may be combined with any item in column 2 and column 3, etc.)

STATUTES: "Testimonies" (AV) -- 10 commandments (Exo 25:16,21,22).

SIMPLE: sw 1Co 13:11, five times: "the child". See also Mat 11:25; 18:3,4; 1Co 1:27; 2Ti 3:15.

Psa 19:8

RADIANT: "Pure" (AV). LXX: telauges, an unusual word; sw Mar 8:25: clearly. "Clear", as in Song 6:10.

GIVING LIGHT TO THE EYES: Paul quotes this in Eph 1:18 (see also Heb 6:4; Psa 13:3; 1Sa 14:29). Cp 1Sa 14:27 (and cp with "honey" of v 10).

Psa 19:9

Applied in Rev 16:7; 19:2 to both the Father and the Son.

FEAR: Reverence, respect induced by the Law (Deu 4:10); the beginning of knowledge (Pro 1:7; 14:27; 16:6).

SURE: "True" (AV). LXX: alethinos, not (as one would expect) true in ct with false or a lie, but real in contrast with type or shadow, ie the spiritual reality.

ALTOGETHER: LXX: having been made righteous in complete harmony; as in Act 2:1,44: ref to the unity, in righteous faith, of the new ecclesia of the Lord.

Psa 19:10

PRECIOUS: "To be desired" (AV): sw Gen 2:9; 3:6: the true "tree of life".

GOLD: Alluded to in Rev 21:18,19. Cp Pro 3:13-18.

HONEY: Sym wisdom, either (a) the wholesome divine wisdom: 1Sa 14:27,28; Psa 119:103; Pro 24:13; Eze 3:3; Luk 24:42; Rev 10:9, or (b) the corrupting attractiveness of human wisdom: Lev 2:11; Pro 5:3; 25:16,27.

Psa 19:11

Vv 11-13: Christ is also the Servant of the Lord (vv 11-13) who is kept from sin and shown to be upright and innocent, one whose words and meditation were wholly acceptable (as a worthy offering) in God's sight.

WARNED: Sb "illuminated".

IN KEEPING THEM: In the absolute sense this was achieved only by Christ. So, prob, this means: holding close to Scripture: sw Exo 15:26; Psa 130:6; Isa 21:11 ("Watchman").

GREAT REWARD: Now, in a contented spirit, in the assurance of the forgiveness of sins, and in a multitude of other present blessings: 1Ti 4:8. But there is, of course, Col 3:24 also: "the reward of the inheritance"!

Psa 19:12

ERRORS: "Wanderings", like the planets (ct the Sun: vv 5,6). See Num 15:22,28; Lev 4:2.

HIDDEN FAULTS: Secrecy is one of the worst of human characteristics. The fewer secrets a man has, the better: Joh 3:19,20; Eph 5:12. Ct coming to the light of the Sun; as with the Sun, so with God's Truth: nothing can be kept "secret" (v 6, sw) from either! The worst of all sins are those their owner is not even aware of, because (necessarily) they are not repented of. The Word of God (Christ himself!) is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, and therefore capable of revealing secret faults to those who so pray (Heb 4:12,13).

Psa 19:13

KEEP: That is, when the servant is wanting to go in the wrong direction: eg 1Sa 25:26,32-34,39. How is he kept back? (a) By the ways of God's Providence and the angelic shaping of circumstances; (b) By the unperceived influence of one's knowledge of Holy Scripture; (c) By quickened memory or other influence not recognized at the time.

WILLFUL SINS: Sins of presumption, pride, or arrogance. Related to the "prophet" who speaks falsely in the name of the Lord (Deu 18:18-22). Equivalent to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mat 12:31-33; Mar 3:28,29). All the "proud" (sw) will be destroyed by the rising of the "Sun" of righteousness (Mal 4:1 again).

"The psalmist's prayer is directed against the worst form of sin -- that which is done with deliberation and willfulness. Even the holiest need to be 'kept back' from the vilest transgressions. It is a solemn thing to find the apostle Paul warning saints against the most loathsome sins. 'Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry' [Col 3:5]. What! do saints need warning against such sins as these? Yes, they do. The whitest robes, unless their purity be preserved by divine grace, will be defiled by the blackest spots" (CHS).

MAY THEY NOT RULE OVER ME: "Let them (ie presumptuous sins) not have dominion over me" (AV) is quoted by Paul to define the new life in Christ: Rom 6:14 (vv 1,15 there make clear reference to presumptuous sins). It is the work of a Redeemer (v 14) to save the weak brother from a tyranny (Lev 25:47-49). Paul picks up this idea in Rom 6:14: "Sin (the figure of a great Master, or a Slave-owner) shall not have dominion over you" (cp Heb 2:15).

INNOCENT: Or "cleansed" (LXX).

GREAT TRANSGRESSION: Or "the transgression of the many".

Psa 19:14

MEDITATION: "Higgaion' (see Psa 9:16; 92:3, mg; Lam 3:62). This Heb word is often associated with talk or soliloquy or prayer. The best way to meditate is to talk!

PLEASING: "Ratzon" = an acceptable sacrifice (ie for the sin of v 13), without spot or blemish. How is this achieved? By having a worthy Redeemer and High Priest: sw Exo 28:38. See also Psa 107:22; 116:17; 141:2.

REDEEMER: The One who ransoms and rescues out of overpowering trouble: sw Lev 25:25; Gen 48:16. Cp also Job 19:25; Psa 78:35; Isa 41:14; 59:20.


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