Psalm 19 - overcomer - How perfect the law of the Lord
The 11th Psalm to the overcomer. An overcomer hungers and thirsts after God's righteousness (Matt 5:6), which must surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees (Matt 5:17-20).
This is one of my favorite psalms. It is beautiful, strikes the heart, and fans the flame of hunger and thirst for righteousness before the Lord. The psalm builds from praise for creation to praise for the law to prayer for righteousness. My favorite verses are verses 8 & 10-14.
v1 - Lit. The expanse tells the work of His hands.
The creation tells us that there is a God, and it also tells us what kind of Person He is (Rom 1:19-20). This Psalm is not talking about the extraordinary things of creation like Niagara Falls, but the every day things we take for granted: the sun, moon and stars, which are seen from everywhere.
That this complex universe should appear by accident out of nothing from a “big bang” is as probable as the works of Shakespeare resulting from an explosion in a printing plant. - Warren W. Wiersbe
v2 - Lit. Night unto night shows knowledge.
v4 - Their line is the boundary of their ministry (Ps 16:6).
"In them He pitched ..." - "them" refers to the heavens and the expanse in v1.
Paul quotes the LXX translation of this verse in Rom 10:18. In Romans, Paul quotes this verse to say that Israel has certainly heard the Gospel. But this verse in Psalm 19 is talking about the testimony of the physical heavens about God. How could Paul quote this to be about the Gospel?
In Romans 10:18, Paul does not say that he is quoting Scripture as he does in Rom 10:5,11,16,19-21. Perhaps Paul is saying, that if God preached the gospel of creation to the whole world, He will do so even more with the gospel of salvation. Govett says that perhaps Paul is saying that as God preached the gospel of creation to everyone, Jew and Gentile, so He preaches the gospel of salvation to Jew and Gentile alike. Or perhaps Paul is saying that everyone has seen and heard the testimony of creation that there is God, as Paul says earlier in Rom 1:19-20.
v5 - Lit. And he is as a bridegroom going forth from his closet; he rejoices as a strong man to run the race.
When the sun rises in the morning, it is like one coming out of his secret place. We need time alone with the Lord, and time with people.
A bridegroom is a bridegroom for one day. He is the most hopeful, happy person. The sun is like that every day.
v6 - Lit. "His going forth is from the end of the heavens, And his circuit unto the ends of it."
We should love and do good to everyone just as the sun shines on all alike.
Matt 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,
45 So that you may become sons of your Father who is in the heavens, because He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet only your brothers, what better thing are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48 You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
6:1 But take care not to do your righteousness before men in order to be gazed at by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father who is in the heavens.
v7 - David switches from the testimony of God in creation to His testimony in His law. When human beings, even the gentiles who do not have God's word, realize what kind of Person God is from His creation, they naturally do the righteousness of the law (Rom 2:14-15).
The Lord's law is the whole Bible. It is perfect and complete. Taking the whole thing and not neglecting any part transforms our soul.
The Lord's testimonies always refer to His commandments. They reveal the Lord's character to us. They are sure. When we stand upon them and not upon tradition or teaching of men, we become wise. Whatever we are sure of, we are sure of it because it is God's word. It is not sufficient to be sure of something because a man of God taught it.
v8 - The Hebrew word for "precepts" is only used in the Psalms. It is hard to tell how precepts differ from "commandments" because we keep them and do them (Ps 103:18; 119:4). We also seek to understand the way of the Lord's precepts (Ps. 119:27). Precepts may be words like "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35) or "The little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked" (Ps 37:16). Psalm 37 is almost entirely these kind of principles. When we keep them, it rejoices our heart because we are doing what we know is right. As Benjamin Franklin said, "A good conscience is a continual Christmas".
When the Pharisees kept the law, it did not rejoice their heart. They did not consider to keep the Lord's intention behind it. Rather they wasted their time studying traditions of men as if it was the word of God. They kept the laws to be seen by men as doing so. It is natural for all human beings to fall in to the same trap, to think we are approved before God because we do what He requires, when actually we are ignoring the more important, simple things He commanded.
The Lord's commandments are what He said to do or not do. They are pure (Ps 12:6). Any human teaching based on the Word, must be understood in how it is based upon the word. If it is taken as a substitute for the word, or a short-cut to reading the word for yourself, it is easy to go astray, because the teaching can never be as pure as the Lord's word.
God's law is our pleasure when the God of the law is our God. - Charles H. Spurgeon
v9 - Lit. "The judgments of the Lord are truth."
Abraham Lincoln quoted the second 1/2 of this verse in his 2nd inaugural address right before his conclusion.
The Lord's law, the Lord's testimonies, the Lord's precepts, the Lord's commandments and the Lord's judgments pretty much all refer to the same thing: the Bible. The fear of the Lord is something different. It is something in us. It corresponds to believing in the Lord in the New Testament. The fear of the Lord is clean and is forever. Some Christians misunderstand 1 John 4:17-18, thinking that fear of the Lord is done away with in the New Testament. This is very far from the truth. I covered this in Ps 34:9. This Psalm says clearly that the fear of the Lord will endure forever.
v10 - It is more valuable than gold because it transforms our soul, makes us wise, and enlightens the eyes. It is sweeter than honey because it rejoices our heart.
v11-12 - It is easy for us to go astray. If we are doing something that is against the Lord's word, then for sure we have gone wrong. When the word convicts us, it is a warning that we have gone wrong.
There are a lot of things hidden in us that fortunately we don't display to others. We need to pray for the Lord to cleanse us from those things too (Heb 4:12-13; Acts 8:22).
v13 - During our whole Christian life, especially when we seem do be doing well, we have the tendency to fall into presumption. This is what happened to the church in Laodicea (Rev 3:17).
v14 - It is good to have this verse memorized so that it can speak to us when our mind wanders.
The Pharisees seemed to have forgotten about this verse and others like it (Matt 23:25-28). We had better not forget about it lest we become like them.
"my Rock and my Redeemer" - this says so much of what the Lord is to us in just 2 words. My Rock - the one I trust, the only sure one to stand upon. My Redeemer - the one who paid his life for me.
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