Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Psalm 19, Revealing God

C.S. Lewis called Psalm 19 the greatest of the psalms with the greatest lyrics. As I’ve studied it this week I’ve “decoded” several things. First of all the psalm is divided into three parts: verses 1 – 6 show how God has revealed Himself through “natural revelation”, verses 7 – 11 explain “scriptural revelation” and the last three verses are a prayer.

Part one begins with “the Heavens declare the glory of God” and it goes on to claim how no speech or language needs to be used to prove that there is a God. Just look at the sky, folks, the amazing array of stars and the constant sun. There is abundant evidence of God and His glory, just look up; it is self-evident. Symbolically, the sun is given a couple of God’s attributes in verses 5 and 6: the sun is like a bridegroom; the sun is like a champion. I love these similes. Verse 6 ends with “nothing is hidden from its heat”. When I read that as nothing is hidden from God it reinforces my finite concept of an infinite God.

Part two changes directions in some interesting (puzzle-decoding) ways. First of all, the psalm writer (King David) uses the name of God only once in part one with the Hebrew word “El”, Mighty One. In the second part he uses another of God’s names, “Yahweh (Jehovah)”, six times as he speaks of “the law of Yahweh”, “the statutes of Yahweh”, “the precepts of Yahweh”, “the commands of Yahweh”, “the fear of Yahweh” and “the ordinances of Yahweh”. Law, precepts, statutes, etc., are all in reference to the Holy Scriptures. In other words, part two is talking about “scriptural revelation”.

So, we have two ways to know about God: look at nature, especially the sky, and read the Bible. Natural and scriptural revelations have been attacked by rationalism, relativism, existentialism and liberalism, to name a few.

Part three is a prayer wherein the psalmist asks forgiveness for three types of sins: hidden sins, willful sins and sins of word and thought. That completely covers it, doesn’t it? The last verse is quoted often by countless preachers before they speak: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”