Psalm 19 is a wisdom psalm, which means it invites us to see God’s truth and apply it to our lives. This particular psalm does so by exploring the world of God, the word of God, and the way of God—or, in other words, the skies, the Scriptures, and the soul. With each section, the psalmist moves closer and closer to the life of the believer.
The Skies (verses 1–6)
First, in verses 1–6, the psalmist explores the world of God. The passage begins:
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
One need only look into the starry sky on a clear night to see why the psalmist might say that the heavens, or skies, point to God. The “telling” that the skies do refers to God’s general revelation, which He gives through His creation and is available to all people, in all places, at all times.
God’s general revelation, seen in His creation, is available to all people, in all places, at all times.
What do the skies reveal? The very glory of God (19:1)! And how do they do that? The psalmist gives one example: the sun. “Like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,” or like a “strong man rejoicing to run his course” (19:5), the sun reflects the rejoicing of all creation in God’s “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:19–20). What a glorious image of the One who declared Himself the Light of the World (John 8:12)!
The Scriptures (verses 7–10)
Having rejoiced in the general revelation of God, the psalmist goes on to delight in God’s special revelation—the word of God—in verses 7–10.
The law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and judgments of God, the psalmist affirms, will revive your soul, make you wise, enlighten your eyes, and endure forever; they are true and altogether righteous (19:7–9). What is special about the revelation of God in Scripture? It reveals something that general revelation cannot: that the God who created the world is also the lover of your soul.
God’s special revelation (the Bible) reveals something general revelation cannot: that the God who created the world is also the lover of your soul.
Whereas the world of God declares God’s eternal power and divine nature, the word of God declares both these and God’s holy and loving character. Such revelation is “more desirable than gold” and “sweeter than honey” (19:10).
The Soul (verses 11–14)
The psalmist does not leave it there. In the final four verses of Psalm 19, he models the proper response to the world and word of God—in other words, he points to the way of God.
Revelation requires a response. It’s the means through which the Spirit convicts us. When the psalmist reflects that, by God’s Word, His “servant is warned” (19:11), he suddenly becomes aware of how this radiance of revelation exposes his sinfulness and unworthiness before the living God. He cries out:
Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
Keep your servant from presumptuous sins.
Just as nothing is hidden from the heat of the sun (19:6), so nothing in our souls is hidden from the penetrating rays of God’s word; His word is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The word of God is the moral mirror that exposes the true character of the soul.
The word of God is the moral mirror that exposes the true character of the soul. If you look into it and do not respond in repentance (as the psalmist does), you are like the person who “once he has looked at himself [in the mirror] and gone away, has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (James 1:23–24). Conviction of sin and repentance should be the standard result when we look into the word of God.
The psalmist ends with this prayer, which should be the desire of every one of us when we look at the holiness of God and the deceitfulness of sin in light of God’s revelation to us:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Here are two suggested steps for applying this psalm to your life:
- Take time when you are outdoors not only to admire God’s creation but to reflect on the glory of God—his eternal power and divine nature—revealed in that creation.
- When you read the Bible, read not only to gain the knowledge it imparts, but also to be convicted of your own sin and led by the Spirit to repentance. Consider making David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14 your own prayer on a regular basis (such as every morning).