Psalm 19

Psalm 19[a]

God’s Glory in Creation

1 For the director.[b] A psalm of David.

2 [c]The heavens proclaim the glory of God;
the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.
3 One day imparts that message to the next,
and night conveys that knowledge to night.
4 All this occurs without speech or utterance;
no voice can be heard.
5 [d]Yet their message goes forth throughout the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.
[e]In the heavens he has placed a tent for the sun,
6 which comes forth like a bridegroom from his wedding chamber,
rejoicing like an athlete who runs his course.
7 It rises from one end of the heavens,
and its circuit is completed at the other;
nothing can be hidden from its heat.
8 The law of the Lord is perfect,
affording refreshment to the soul.
The decree of the Lord is worthy of trust,
imparting wisdom to the simple.[f]
9 The precepts of the Lord are right,
causing the heart[g] to rejoice.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving light to the eyes.
10 The fear of the Lord[h] is pure,
destined to endure forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are true,
and all of them are just.
11 They are even more precious than gold,
than an abundance of the purest gold;
they are also sweeter than honey
that drips from the comb.[i]
12 [j]By these your servant is instructed;
obedience in following them will ensure a great reward.
13 But who can fully recognize his shortcomings?
Cleanse me of my hidden faults.
14 From willful sins preserve your servant;
never let them gain power over me.
Then I will be blameless
and innocent of serious sin.
15 Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart[k]
find favor in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 19:1 The universe is a hymn to the glory of the Lord, but this is even more true of the Mosaic Law. The silent revelation of creation is offered to all human beings, but the law, privilege of Israel, reveals to the hearts of believers God’s perfection, justice, truth, and goodness and challenges them to imitate the divine life.
    The ode to the sun in this psalm (vv. 5b-7) seems to be an imitation of a fragmentary Assyrian text in which the sun-god rises from the ocean and passes through the gates of the east to meet the goddess. The Christmas Liturgy uses this image to recall, in poetic language, the coming to earth of the Son of God.
    By its splendor and vastness, the star-studded heavens teach us the glory, the splendor and infinite power, the prodigious artistry of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who work together in its continuous creation. The Law, perfect as far as its epoch and its place in the divine economy of salvation are concerned, was brought to its absolute perfection by Christ (see Mt 5:17).
  2. Psalm 19:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
  3. Psalm 19:2 The heavens show forth the glory of their Creator to all peoples (see Ps 148:3).
  4. Psalm 19:5 Paul interprets this proclamation of the heavens as referring also to the proclamation of the Gospel (see Rom 10:18).
  5. Psalm 19:5 The heavens are the divinely pitched tent for the lordly sun—widely worshiped in the ancient Near East (see Deut 4:19; 17:3; 2 Ki 23:5, 11; Jer 8:2; Ezek 8:16), but here a mere creature of God (as in Ps 136:8f; Gen 1:16). Of the created realm, the sun is the supreme metaphor of the glory of God (see Ps 84:12; Isa 60:19f), as it makes its daily triumphant sweep across the whole extent of the heavens and pours out its heat (felt presence) on every creature. The literature of the time applied to the sun the six synonyms for God’s revelation in verses 8-11.
  6. Psalm 19:8 The simple: those who are inexperienced and hence childlike (see Ps 119:98-100; Prov 1:4); the New Testament shows that heavenly wisdom is a gift to “children,” hidden from the worldly-wise (see Lk 10:21; 1 Cor 1:18ff; 2:8-10; 2 Tim 3:15).
  7. Psalm 19:9 Heart: see note on Ps 4:8.
  8. Psalm 19:10 Fear of the Lord: see note on Ps 15:2-5. In this case, some exegetes believe that the term “fear” should really be “word.”
  9. Psalm 19:11 See Ps 119:103, 127. This entire hymn to the law is closely connected to the long Psalm 119.
  10. Psalm 19:12 The psalmist knows that God’s commandments lead to life (see Deut 5:33). Yet he is also aware that like all human beings he is weak and imperfect. He may err unknowingly and need to seek forgiveness of hidden faults (v. 13; see Lev 5:2-4). However, willful sins (v. 14) are another matter; they cut one off from God and his people (see Num 15:30f). He prays to be preserved from them.
  11. Psalm 19:15 This meditation is presented to the Lord as a praise offering (see notes on Pss 7:18; 9:2; see also Pss 50:14; 104:33). Heart: see note on Ps 4:8. Rock: see note on Ps 18:3.

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