Psalms 17-20 The Law of the LORD Is Perfect

From Psalms 17-20

19 Psalms FragmentToday’s passage speaks about what the LORD has given to mankind. First is revelation of himself.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

1 The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

2 Day to day pours out speech,

and night to night reveals knowledge.

3 There is no speech, nor are there words,

whose voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,

5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

and its circuit to the end of them,

and there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Ps 19.1-6)

God’s creation tells us about himself. They reveal his glory. Have you ever seen the ocean so blue with the waves crashing and appreciated it as the work of God? What about a rolling field with different kinds of flora and thought God prepared it for you? Or way about especially beautiful sunset with shades of red and orange among the clouds? The heavens declare the glory of God. His amazing creative power and care over his work. Creation speaks of the LORD, there is no place that has not heard of him through his creation.

Now David turns to something else the LORD has given man. More specifically the Jews.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure,

making wise the simple;

8 the precepts of the LORD are right,

rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is pure,

enlightening the eyes;

9 the fear of the LORD is clean,

enduring forever;

the rules of the LORD are true,

and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold,

even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey

and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward. (Ps 19.7-11)

The Jewish law. David is specifically referring to the commands, rules and instructions he gave Israel at Horeb and we have seen summarised in Deuteronomy. Here is a table of the commands in the law David is referring to.

Attitudes Actions

(‘Works of law’)

Prohibitions Conditional laws
To Love Circumcision No Idolatry and Foreign Worship Firstborn
To Honor Festivals and holidays No Murder and Violence Property, Land and Servants
Worship and Sacrifice No Sexual immorality Punishment and Restitution
Purity and Washings No Stealing Social Justice and the Poor
No False Witness Vows
No Coveting Trumpets
Food laws Clothing

The law of the LORD revives the soul. Recharges it. To hear God’s voice and know his will is edifying. It warns people to avoid the pitfalls of sin. Thus making them wise. David finds pleasure in the law. The rules of the LORD are right. He knows keeping them will bring rewards in their doing and from the LORD.

David turns on himself in humility before the LORD.

12 Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression. (Ps 19.12-13)

He humbly asks the LORD to reveal to him his errors and hidden faults. A good prayer to ask fairly regularly. He acknowledges the LORD can prevent him from sin, so he asks him not to let sin have control over him. Only the LORD keeps us away from sin. Through the LORD grace and work, David recognises he shall be blameless and innocent. With no blemishes on his record.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Ps 19.14)

David ends his prayer with sincerity. Much like saying Amen. David Psalm is like his diary in that they reveal his inner self. He starts from the LORD’s creation and moves closer and closer to his own heart. At the end he has his heart on his shoulder for all to see. In doing se he sets a good example of acknowledging the LORD’s blessings all around him, more directly in scripture (the law) and then looking at himself seeking to please him.

Story of Jesus

Much later and after Jesus rose from the dead Paul quotes from this Psalm reflecting on how the Jews have rejected Jesus as their Christ. It seems that not all have followed David’s example. Paul raises the question, how will all the Jew hear the gospel? What of those who dont?

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,

and their words to the ends of the world.” (Rom 10:14–18; cf. Ps 19.4)

God has made himself known to all through creation. So they have no excuse. His special revelation is in the gospel of Jesus.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.