God Is Revealed

Explore the Bible Series

September 6, 2009

 

Background Passage: Psalm 19:1-14

Lesson Passage: Psalm 19:1-14

 

Introduction:

 

Those who seek the Lord have a special love for the Book of Psalms.  Like no other biblical writing, this work explores the internal experience of God’s people, and it lends its eloquence to the unspoken desires of the heart.  How many times have I turned to the Psalms and, in its pages, found perfect expression of some inexpressible impulse of the soul.  Its lessons are timeless and universal, and its honesty and transparency give vent to the believer’s deepest longings, desires, and joys. 

 

Authorship: No single author penned the Psalms.  More than seventy of the hymns are attributed to King David, and the ancient Jews clearly associated the development of the Psalms to Davidic roots.  The term “to David” translates a Hebrew term that may mean the king wrote a Psalm; or, it could indicate that the poem was written in his honor.  Other names, however, appear in the superscripts to these songs: Solomon, Asaph, the sons of Korah, Ethan the Ezrahite.  Some of the Psalms give no indication of authorship.

 

Date of Composition: Israel apparently began to collect and utilize the Psalms during the reign of King David (c. late Eleventh Century-early Tenth-Century B.C.).  Periodically the Jewish religious leaders added newer hymns to the collection until the Book of Psalms reached an approximation of the collection we have today, sometime after the Babylonian/ Medo-Persian Exile (c. Fifth Century).  Our study for this week, centered on Psalm Nineteen, appears in Book One and should be dated during the reign of David.

 

Organization: The Hebrews divided the Book of Psalms into five books, probably reflective of the time period in which the hymns were composed. 

Book One (Psalms 1-41):  This collection focuses on Davidic compositions, and it is probably the oldest part of the Book of Psalms.  These poems reflect, for the most part, a joyous, celebrative period in Hebrew history.

Book Two (Psalms 42-72): William Smith dated these materials from the time of King Hezekiah (c. Eighth century B.C.). This section includes some hymns of David, and many of them reflect the liturgical life of the Jewish sacred calendar. 

Book Three (Psalms 73-89): These songs, too, may have been collected during (or shortly after) the reign of Hezekiah.  This Book has a dark, somber tone that laments the disgraceful spiritual circumstances in Israel and Judah.

Book Four (Psalms 90-106): These seventeen songs were written, in all probability, just prior to the Exile, and most of them (fourteen) give no indication of authorship. These hymns direct Judah’s attention to Jehovah as the only hope of his people.

Book Five (Psalms 107-150): Contain some older hymns (traced to the time of David), but Smith believed this collection was assembled during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. These songs focus on thanksgiving to God, gratitude for redemption from the Exile and anticipation the coming Messiah. 

 

Purpose: The Psalms prove most useful for both private and public use.  No doubt, the Jews incorporated the Psalms into their liturgical worship, utilizing certain hymns as part of the sacred calendar.  Throughout the year, Jews marked their most hallowed days with specific readings from this book, and Christian worship has been immeasurably blessed by following Israel’s example.  However, while emphasizing the public use of the Psalms, we must not overlook their personal, private value. 

 

The Psalms reflect the deeply private meditations of the Lord’s people.  David, for instance, grieved over the guilt and consequences of his sin with Bathsheba (See Psalm 51).  In a sense, this hymn deals with profoundly private things: guilt, shame, defilement, and redemption; nevertheless, the Holy Spirit has used these personal reflections to encourage generations of believers.

 

The Message of Psalm Nineteen: The text attributes this Psalm to King David.  The king expressed his thanksgiving for the self-revelation of God (El), a revelation that comes through the witness of creation and the Law.  David understood that men cannot know God as they do other persons.  The Lord transcends all of the senses and capacities of mankind and thus remains unknowable by the means common to the world.  God must reveal himself, and David rejoiced that the divine self-revelation occurs through the testimony of creation and the voice of the Law. 

 

Lesson Outline:

 

I.       The Testimony of Creation (vv. 1-6): David summoned a celestial chorus to praise the Lord.  This section gives voice to the witness of the creation’s reflection of the glory of God. 

A.    Note the verbs David used to describe the testimony of creation.

1.      “declares” (v. 1a): The heavens preach, as it were, an unmistakable and eloquent sermon that reveals the glory of God.

2.      “shows” (v. 1b): This word denotes “unveiling”, “proclaiming or “demonstrating.”  

3.      “utters” (v. 2a): This term means to “pour forth” or “to gush.”  It reflects an insuppressible impulse to express some wonderful truth.

4.      “reveals” (v. 2b): The progression of day and night discloses knowledge of holy mysteries concerning the character of God.

B.     Note the voices David recruits to praise the Lord in this holy chorus.

1.      “The heavens” (v. 1a): This refers to the planets and stars, the far-flung glorious bodies that reveal the breadth of God’s glory.

2.      “The firmament” (v. 1b): This term refers to the sky, what we might call the atmosphere.

3.      “Day… night” (vv. 2-6): The calendar, the progression of days, reveals the knowledge of the Lord.  David focused on the testimony of the sun which makes its daily trek across the sky like a bridegroom, resplendent in his wedding adornments, emerges from his chamber to claim his bride. The sky is like a tabernacle (tent) from which the regal sun comes to bear its witness to the corners of the earth.  Verses Three and Four declare that the sun’s testimony is seen by all the earth. 

 

II.    The Testimony of the Law (vv. 7-11)

A.    Synonyms for the Law of God

1.     “The Law of the Lord” (v. 7a): This refers to God’s written revelation, given to Moses, on Mount Sinai (See Exodus 19ff). David affirmed the perfection (spotless, harmless, perfectly suited to bless all who obey) of the Law. 

2.     “The testimony of the Lord” (v. 7b): The Lord affirms the truthfulness of his revelation, and it is sure (foundational, immoveable, unshakable).

3.     “The statutes of the Lord” (v. 8a): God’s statutes are his precepts, his wisdom, and they are right (just).

4.     “The commandments of the Lord” (v. 8b): God’s moral decrees are pure (unalloyed, uncompromised).

5.     “The fear of the Lord” (v. 9a): The commandments of God produce reverence for the sovereignty and prerogative of the Lord, and such fear of God is clean (undefiled).

6.     “The judgments of the Lord” (v. 9b):  This phrase describes those things which God deems true and righteous.

B.     The benefits of the Law of God: These benefits, David observed, are more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (vv. 10-11)

1.     “reviving (converting) the soul” (v. 7a): The Lord’s word invigorates and revives the soul.  This verse implies regenerating power of the word of God. 

2.     “making the wise simple” (v. 7b): The word “simple” denotes “openness.”  The word opens the heart to the things of God, thus removing the chaotic, complicated way of the world.

3.     “rejoicing the heart” (v. 8): Real joy comes to those who live in loving obedience to the precepts of the Lord.

4.     “enlightening the eyes” (v. 8b): God’s word brings insight and wisdom to the people of the Lord.

 

III.  Two Final Petitions (vv. 12-14): David concluded this Psalm with two requests from the Lord.

A.    “Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins” (v. 13): This meditation on the goodness of the Law of God provoked David to pray that Jehovah might preserve him from deliberate, willful, insolent sin. The king understood how easily such sin could come to dominate his life, and he prayed that the Lord would protect him from the ascendency of sin.

B.     Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight” (v. 14): David would not settle for mere outward compliance with a code of conduct; rather, he hoped to make captive his words and thoughts to the constraining glory of God.  He ended the Psalm with a final statement concerning the glorious character of the Lord, his strength (Hebrew word for “rock”) and redeemer.