“Prayer is answering speech. God’s Word has not done its complete work until it evokes an answer from us. All our answers are prayers. The Psalms train us in this answering speech, this language that responds to all God’s creating and saving words targeted to our lives.”
“We know almost nothing of the circumstances in which the 150 psalms were written. David is the most-named author, but most are anonymous. But this hardly matters, for the life settings of the Psalms are not geographical or cultural but interior. Calvin called them ‘an anatomy of all parts of the soul.’” Eugene H Peterson, Psalms, Prayers of the Heart.
Last week, Rob Lister led us through Psalm 27, where all of David’s answering speech rises out of a tumultuous life. He runs to God in pain and fear and outrage, knowing that God hears and cares and will save him. God himself is David’s source, his means, and his goal. But how did David come to his knowledge, his certainty of who God is?
This week, Erik Thoennes will guide us into Psalm 19. This psalm lays out for us what sorts of messages God has sent to mankind. What is it that enables us to know enough about God to answer Him?
Of Psalm 19, C. S. Lewis wrote, “I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” Goethe, Haydn and Beethoven were inspired by this psalm to great works of art. Contemporary artists still find in it a rich source of inspiration. Psalm 19 is considered a Wisdom Psalm, a unified expression of a man’s response to God’s revelations in nature, in His Word and in His provision for salvation.
It may be helpful to ask some questions of this psalm before the sermon. Read Psalm 19. Reread verses 1-6. Notice all the words expressing communication. What are they all communicating? Look for attributes of the God who both creates and orders all creation. Notice the joy being expressed by created things for the existence God has given them. Particularly note the picture of the sun and the pervasiveness of its light and heat. How does this prepare the reader for the next section?
Reread verses 7-11. Take note of the various terms expressing God’s message to man. How comprehensive is God’s revelation? What are the good effects of God’s Word that are revealed in this list? What sort of person would find laws and statutes more precious than gold and sweeter than honey? C. S. Lewis, in his Reflections on the Psalms, had trouble with this idea. “I can understand that a man can and must, respect these statutes, and try to obey them, and assent to them in his heart. But it is very hard to find how they could be, so to speak, delicious, how they could exhilarate.” What are your thoughts on this passage?
Reread verses 12-14. What is the psalmist’s reaction, his answer, to what God has revealed in His creation and His law? Where is his confidence? How can he be found blameless and innocent? Where is Christ in this psalm?
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. Malachi 4:2
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2
Our Lord’s saving work for us is the crucial culmination of all messages from God. We must answer, and our answer has eternal significance.
As you consider these things this week, examine your reaction to God’s laws and statutes. Are they desirable? Are they sweet? If not, what can you do about that? Thank God for all the ways He has revealed Himself to us and continues to help us learn of Him, and for all the ways He is our Rock and our Redeemer. Ask Him to open our hearts to the message He is providing in this psalm for our good and His glory.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
Resources: Spurgeon, Treasury of David, http://www.spurgeon.org/treasury/treasury.php
Bible Gateway, dozens of Bible translations, www.biblegateway.com
Eugene Peterson, Praying the Psalms
Beautiful reading of Psalm 19 with lovely images of God’s creation. http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=1B9FFCNU
Reading of Psalm 19 with Hillsong music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9PcOpJQjso
Juan & Miriam sing Psalm 19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDqcle0-7yQ
Search in your browser “Psalm 19 music” for many more.
Find text and music to numerous hymns at www.Himnary.org