Psalm 19 is a psalm that gives praise to God. Actually, the entire book of Psalms is a book of praise. That is because the word “praise” is found more times in the book of Psalms than in any other book of the Bible.
We serve a God who is to be praised. He is the Great I Am. His greatness is unsearchable. There is no way that you and I will never understand the extent of His greatness. It is beyond our ability to grasp. Because He is Jehovah and because of His greatness, we are to praise Him with everything that we have.
When you consider the greatness of God, Psalm 19 will help us think about how great God is in terms we can understand. In this Psalm, there are four pieces of evidence that show why God is great and is deserving of our praise.
Psalm 19 begins by telling us that God is worthy of praise because of what He created.
The Bible begins with the historical account of how the universe came into existence. If you open your Bible, the very first verse tells us, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
Literally, the word "heaven" refers to the upper regions. It isn't just the seeming unending sky, but the vast and endless region that we know as outer space. This vast region declares the glory of God.
The word “declare” is not the idea of shouting out so as to call attention to something. It is not a word that means “to make an announcement.” The original Hebrew word means literally, “to recount.” Our passage says that the heavens are giving us a recounting. It is as if the heavens are saying to us, “let me give you the history of our existence. I want you to know that we came into existence by the glory of God.”
Think about the heavens in terms of outer space. How far does outer space go? How big is the universe? Actually, there is no answer to that question.
The Universe is of a size that we cannot currently measure. No one has ever seen the edge of the Universe. Those who study such things refer to what is called the observable Universe. With current technology and modern day mathematical calculations, there is a certain distance that scientists can see. Without getting into the technical jargon, scientists claim that they can see approximately 93 billion light years from edge to edge. That is the observable universe. This is as far out as they can see in any direction.
If light travels for one year at a rate of 186,000 miles per second, that means that in one year, it will have traveled 6 trillion miles. The observable universe is 93 billion light years. Light travels a distance of 6 trillion miles in one year. It will take 93 billion years traveling at that speed to get from one edge of the universe to the other, and that is just he part of the universe that we can see. God is the one who created this vast universe. When you think about the heavens, they tell us how glorious God really is.
The Hebrew word for “firmament” is a word that describes the atmosphere. We have five layers of atmosphere that God has stretched over the face of the earth. This atmosphere serves a number of purposes. For example, this atmosphere keeps oxygen in on the ground level so we can breathe. It provides a protective cover so that we don’t get incinerated by the sun’s rays. There are five layers, and each layer is thinner than the previous one as you get closer to space.
This firmament, this layered atmosphere, is showing us something. It is showing us God’s handiwork. Here is this atmosphere that is wrapped around the earth, and God did that.
The heavens are declaring something. The firmament is showing us something. Every day we can look up into the sky and see the atmosphere, and we can learn the message that it is conveying. Every night we can look up into the stars and hear the message that it is declaring.
What is the message? The message is that God created all things, and He is glorious.
Can someone who lives in South American look up into the sky and understand this message? Can someone in the African jungle look up into the sky and know this message that is being declared? Can someone who lives in Europe and speaks French understand the message that God is glorious and is deserving of praise?
It does not matter what language you speak of where you live, you can look at the heavens and the firmament and know that God did this, and He is glorious. There is no place where this message cannot be heard and understood.
Notice that verse 4 refers to "their line" and "in them." Contextually, this is in reference to the atmosphere and outer space (heavens and firmament). In outer space and in the firmament, God has set a tabernacle for the sun. In reference to the creation, this passage also mentions something else that God created -- The Sun.
A tabernacle is translated from the Hebrew word that means "tent." It is a dwelling place where something resides. The atmosphere and outer space is the dwelling place for the sun.
The sun is 93 million miles away. The surface of the sun burns at about 10 thousand degrees Fahrenheit. If you get to the core of the sun, it would be 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. It is just a yellow dwarf. It is a small star, and it not even close to the hottest or the largest stars.
God is great and deserving of our praise because He is the One who created all of this.
When the sun rises, it is glorious, and it's glory is compared to the glory of a bridegroom all dressed up and ready for his wedding day or a strong man who runs his race.
The sun is on a circuit. It rises every day. Can you think of a time in your life where you woke up in the morning, and the sun did not rise? Can you ever think of an evening where the sun did not set? God is responsible for the path of the sun.
The first six verses tell us that the creation is communicating to us a message. It is a message that any of us can understand. The message is that God is great and glorious. The fact that the universe exists tells us how great God is for His ability to create it.
Why do the heavens and the earth exist? Why do we have light and why is this light emitting from the sun and being reflected to us by the moon? Why do we have zebras and giraffes, and lions, and countless varieties of plants? Is it because there was an accidental fusion of energy that exploded, and over the course of millions of years evolved into what we see today? Is it because by blind change, carbon and proteins mixed together and formed life, and this life evolved from fish to frog to animal to man?
The universe and all that it contains is here for one reason. God decided to create it, and in the course of six days, God spoke the universe into existence. For this reason, God is deserving of our praise.
Psalm 19 also tells us that God is deserving of our praise because of His guidance. In verses 7-11, God's guidance is described by a number of words.
His word is described as Law. This means that God's word consists of rules where God tells us how we are to live. There are debates about whether we are saved by obeying His law or by grace. It is true that we are saved because of God's grace. We also cannot ignore the fact that His word also tells us how we are to live. It is a book of law.
We can live in a country that is governed by civil laws in which they may legalize alcohol and marijuana, legalize gay marriage, and make moral issues into civil rights issues. However, what our government does cannot be the basis of what we believe and how we live. The word of God is the law that dictates how we are to live.
His word is also described as perfect. There is nothing that you need to know that the Law of God does not contain. It is everything that God designed it to be.
This is why we can read in 2 Peter 1.3 that we have been given "all things that pertain to live and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us." Everything that you need to know to live a life that is pleasing to God and will guarantee your place in heaven is contained in the Bible.
Have you ever had a question that you could not answer with the Bible? Have you ever wanted to know something that the Bible didn’t address? The Bible was never designed to answer all of your questions. It is designed to save your souls and help you get to heaven.
His word is also described as being able to convert the soul. Do you want to be saved? The Bible is the book that tells you what God did to make salvation available to you. It is also the book that tells you what you need to do to access that salvation.
The same verse also goes on to describe the word of God as a Testimony.
The word “testimony” comes from a Hebrew word that means literally, to repeat. It isn’t a recorder like we think of today, an electronic device that records what we say. A recorder was a person who wrote down what a witness said. It was a documentation of an individual's eye witness account.
The word of God is a documentation of what God has said. If you want to know what you are to believe and what God wants you to do, you can go to the word of God and find a written record of what God has said.
The word of God is also described as statutes and commandments.
The statutes and the commandments are nuanced parts of the same things. They refer to rules that extend from the Law of the Lord.
Imagine the hub of a wheel. This hub has many different spokes that extend outward from the hub and attach to the outer wheel. The Law of the Lord refers to overall system by which the people are governed. It would be the hub of the wheel. Extending from this hub are all the statutes and commandments, the things that tell us how to keep the law of the Lord. The outer wheel is your life. The statutes and the commandments are the specific rules and regulations that connect the law of God to your life.
This verse tells us that these specific rules within the law of the Lord are right. The idea of right is fair. The word of God contains things that we are to do and things we are not to do, and they are always fair.
You are not always going to like these rules. Sometimes these rules interfere with what you want to do, and you are going to think that they are unfair. There may be times when you do not even agree with what the word of God says. You may even try to show why the statutes are unfair and your way is the way that is fair. But it is still what God says. He oversees the welfare of our souls by implementing these rules to keep us from harming ourselves spiritually by sin.
When we keep these statutes, they make our lives better, and so it rejoices the heart.
This same verse also tells us that the commandments of the Lord are pure. This is God’s book. This isn’t man’s book. This isn’t partly God’s book, and partly man’s book. This is God’s book, and in it are no foreign substances.
Consider what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1.20,21: “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
This is the verse that is often quoted to teach that the Bible is not a matter of private interpretation. You cannot go to the Bible and interpret it in a way that fits your preconceived notions. That idea is true, but that’s not what this passage is saying.
Peter is telling us that the scriptures did not come as a result of man opinions or interpretations of what he witnessed. The scriptures are not from the imagination of man. The scriptures are the result of divine inspiration.
You will not find commands in the Bible that come from the imagination of man. You will not find instructions in the Bible that are tainted with human motivations. The commandments of the Lord are pure.
The United States government has three branches.
The Supreme Court was set up to enforce the law that governs this country, the constitution, and it is what is supposed to keep the executive and legislative branches in check. If the president tries to pass a law, or if congress or the senate tries to enact a law, the Supreme Court checks to see if what the president or what the legislative branch is doing violates the Constitution.
Consider how that illustrates the Bible as the judgments of the Lord. When God applies the Law and checks to see if His Law has been violated, those judgments are true and right. If God decides that His law has been violated and that punishment needs to be handed out, then that punishment is true and right. That means that God as judge will always judge right according to the Law He has implemented.
Every time that God has punished and every time God has rewarded, every judgment that God has ever made and will ever make is true and right. God is God. We are the creation. When what we believe and what we do is in contrast to what God said, we will never be on the right side of the argument. We will never be able to plead our case and convince God that we are right and He is wrong because God is God, and what He decides is always right.
By His laws, testimonies, statutes, commandments, judgments, by them we are warned that there are consequences to what we do. By His laws, testimonies, statutes, commandments, and judgments, when I keep them there is great reward.
Psalm 19 tells us that God is also worthy of praise because of His grace. Consider what we find in the remaining verses.
Secret faults are sins that we don't know that we commit. If you were to turn to Hebrews 9.7, you would read about the Day of Atonement where sacrifices were offered "for the people's sins committed in ignorance.”
In 2 Chronicles 34, you can read about the exiles returning to Jerusalem. Efforts were made to rebuild the city including the wall and the temple. As they were about to begin repairs, they found the Book of the Law. They brought the book to king Josiah. He read the book and realized that they had not been obedient to the law of God. In a panic, he sent the high priest to inquire of the Lord.
Have you ever read in the Bible that you were supposed to do something, and you have not been doing it? Have you ever done something, and then you read the Bible and find out that you were not supposed to be doing that?
The question is asked, “Who can understand his errors?” When you think about how glorious God is in view of the creation, and how righteous and true God is in view of His revelation and how He wants us to live, it makes the sins in our lives much more obvious. It may cause you to realize how impossible it is to be right with God. Look at all the things that are wrong in our lives, even things that we don't know about.
Here is this God who is awesome and magnificent. As His creation, we are insignificant. Yet in our arrogance, we willfully choose our way over His way. How dare we act in such a way.
The psalmist is asking God to please do whatever He has to do, but don't let me do what I know I should not do.
The psalmist sees how great God is, and he sees how flawed, sinful, and insignificant he is, and he asks God for protection from sin, for acceptance, and for redemption. In other words, he asks God for His grace.
God is worthy of praise because of His grace.