The Heavens Declare the Glory of God (Psalms 19)

by Mike Johnson

Psalm 19 is beautifully written and has been revered by many people over the years. From it, many conclude that there is a God who created the universe, and He has revealed Himself to mankind through the Scriptures. From Psalms 19:12-14, the awesomeness of these concepts should cause introspection on the part of a person who would then appeal to God in prayer.

There is a general agreement that David wrote Psalm 19. However, the point in his life when he wrote it is uncertain. Some think David wrote it when he was pursued by Saul, who was on a quest to kill him. Another view is that he wrote it during the time he was a young shepherd. While with his sheep at night, he would have had ample opportunities to view the beauties of the sky and think about the heavens declaring God's glory.

This Psalm follows a natural three-fold division. Psalms 19:1-6 deal with natural revelation (the glories of the material universe) while Psalms 19:7-11 pertain to special revelation (the divine law God has given to man). Psalms 19:12-14 show the concept of spiritual examination as the first two sections causes the writer to view himself and turn inwardly to God in prayer. The Psalm may also be viewed as God in nature, God in Scripture, and God in the heart and conscience. Another way to divide the sections is the Work of God, the Word of God, and the Way of God.

Natural Revelation (Psalms 19:1-6)

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

The Psalm begins, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork." Most who are familiar with the Bible can quote this passage. This verse is one of the most well-known passages in the book of Psalm.

Psalms 19:1 makes it clear that God is our Creator. It is God's glory, which is revealed by the heavens and the sky. Various passages in the Scriptures show God as our Creator. Isaiah 44:24 declares, "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: 'I am the Lord, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself.'" In Psalm 8:3-4, the Psalmist points out, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?"

What is meant by the "heavens?" In the New Testament (II Corinthians 12:1-2), Paul spoke of being caught up to the "third heaven." This statement implies there is a first and second heaven. The first refers to the area within the atmosphere; the second, to the area where planets and stars are, i.e., outer space; the third is God's dwelling place. It seems clear that the heavens which declare the glory of God refer to the first and second heavens.

We should probably view this verse as synonymous parallelism (i.e., expressing the same concept twice but using different words). Consider, however, another view. The term "firmament" simply means "an expanse." The "firmament" refers to the atmosphere and pertains to what we see in the daytime. The word "heavens" refers to the realm beyond the atmosphere and pertains to what we see at night.   Regardless, it is speaking of that which man can see which would be the first and second heavens.

The verse tells us the heavens, "declare." A declaration is typically made by humans, either verbal or written. However, in this case, we have a personification, which attributes the power of speech and reason to inanimate objects. (One example from the Scriptures is Job 28:22 which reveals, “Destruction and Death saying, 'We have heard a report about it with our ears.’”) The heavens speak, but they are silently speaking.

This declaration of the heavens is perpetual. Many translations render it as "are telling." Notice also Psalms 19:2, which reveals, "Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge." The message of the heavens and the firmament is a constant revelation. The heavens continue each day and night with this declaration.

What do the heavens declare? Suppose a person goes outside on a clear night away from the city lights and looks up and sees the stars, the planets, and the moon. What should the heavens declare to him?

Would a person, in amazement, declare the glory of the "Big Bang" theory? This theory says everything came into existence from a violent expansion of a singular point of extremely high density and temperature. According to this theory, everything came into existence by accident, and there is no creator, i.e., at some point, something came from nothing!

Or, would the response be to worship the heavenly bodies? Many ancient societies, such as the Babylonians, have worshipped the heavenly bodies thinking they had control over the affairs on the earth. Worshipping the heavenly bodies was condemned by God's Law. Deuteronomy 4:19 admonishes, And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.”

The proper response is not to praise some scientific theory or to worship the heavenly bodies but to acknowledge God and His glory.

We should all understand the concept of "design demanding a designer." Consider the automobile you drive and the house where you live. These did not come into existence by accident — someone designed and built them. The same concept applies to our solar system, plant life, and the human body. A designer was obviously involved.

The existence of creation implied the existence of a Creator, and the nature of the creation implied that He was wise enough to plan it and powerful enough to execute His plan and maintain what He had made. So complex a universe demands a Creator who can do anything, who knows everything, and who is present everywhere. [The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament © 2001-2004 by Warren W. Wiersbe.]

Sir Isaac Newton, who lived during the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, has been recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and he was a believer in God. Consider the following story from an article on The Apologetics Press web site.

The story is told that he had an atheistic friend who did not believe in God. Sir Isaac devised a plan to try to convince his friend that God did exist and had created the Universe. One day, he went to a carpentry shop and asked the owner to make a model of our solar system. This model was to be to scale, intricately painted, and designed to resemble, as closely as possible, the actual solar system.

Several weeks later, Sir Isaac picked up the model, paid for it, and placed it in the center of a table in his house. Sometime later, his atheist friend came over for a visit. When the friend arrived at Dr. Newton’s house, the model of the solar system caught his eye, and he asked Sir Isaac if he could inspect the model more closely. Of course, that was fine with Sir Isaac. As the atheist inspected the model, he stood in awe of the fine craftsmanship and beauty of the various pieces. After some time, the atheistic friend asked Dr. Newton who had crafted this wonderful model of the solar system. Sir Isaac promptly replied that no one had made the model; it just appeared on his table by accident. Confused, the friend repeated the question, and yet Newton stubbornly clung to his answer that the model had just appeared, as it were, “out of thin air.” Finally, the friend became upset, and it was at that point that Sir Isaac explained the purpose of his answer. If he could not convince his friend that this crude replica of the solar system had 'just happened by accident,' how could the friend believe that the real solar system, with all its complexity and design, could have appeared just by time and chance? [Kyle Butt, MA, "Design Demands A Designer" The Apologetics Press, Aug. 20, 2015.]

The staunchest atheist should be able to understand the concept of "design demanding a designer" when it comes to Newton's model. The same principle applied to the universe should cause one to draw the same conclusion. Hebrews 3:4 explains, "For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God."

In Romans 1 and 2, there is a discussion of the spiritual conditions of both the Jews and Gentiles. Romans 3:23, drawing a conclusion, points out all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Although the Jews were God's chosen people, the Gentiles throughout their history had received messages and manifestations from God. God's power, for example, was seen by the Egyptians (Exodus 1-14) as He sent plagues on them and delivered the children of Israel by parting the Red Sea. Later, when the children of Israel approached Jericho to spy on it, Rehab, a resident there, spoke of all the great deeds the people there had heard, which God had done (Joshua 2:10-11). Further, Jonah carried the Word of God to wicked Nineveh, and the whole city repented (Jonah 3). During the time of the United Kingdom, the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon and said in I Kings.10:9, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness." During New Testament times, Cornelius, a Gentile (Acts 10), was a believer in God even before being taught by Peter.

There was a constant and universal message which the Gentiles had always received. It was the message of the "heavens," declaring the glories of God. No doubt, it had an impact on many. Romans 1:20 points out, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (NASB) Sadly, instead of receiving the message of God and His power, the Gentiles generally turned to idolatry worshipping the "creature" more than the "Creator" (Romans 1:21-25).

Psalms 19:3-4 of our text continues, "There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world...." The word "line" is often translated "voice." The message is like a "decree." Due to the limitations of languages and the constraints of distance, communication can be minimal. These two verses show the message of the heavens declaring the glory of God is not only constant but is also a universal message.

From time to time, I listen to a radio talk show which is hosted by a person who answers financial questions and gives financial advice. His web site says the program goes out from coast to coast with a network of 500 radio stations and has 8 million listeners. A few years ago, my wife and I were in the town where the program originates. I thought it might be interesting to go and listen to a live program. As I watched him through the glass of his studio, I remember thinking about his vast audience. It was an awesome thought to consider him speaking, as I watched live, to millions of people. Furthermore, his program goes out to anyone in the world via the internet. But, his show only goes out in English. (Only about 10% of the world's population speaks English.) Also, a certain percentage of the world's population does not own radios, computers, or even have electricity. Further, his program would not be as pertinent to nations with different tax laws and financial regulations. As vast as his audience is, comparatively speaking, it is limited. In contrast, God's message from the heavens reaches every part of the world. Not only is it "broadcasted" to the United States, but it emanates out to every person in China, Japan, Spain, and to the darkest and most remote jungles of Africa. For God’s message, a person simply looks up to the heavens.

R.L. Whiteside put it like this. "There was no reason why any nation should have forgotten about God. Every star proved his existence, and every raindrop and growing plant demonstrates his presence in the operations of nature. As inspiration viewed the matter, all nations were without excuse for their idolatry and their corrupt morals.” Truly God's message is universal.” [A New Commentary On Paul's Letter to the Saints at Rome, © 1945 by Robertson L. Whiteside.]

The last part of Psalms 19:4-6 speaks of a particular part of the heavens, the sun. Psalms 19:4c declares, "In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun." Without the sun, man could not live; the sun is a very pervasive and powerful force in the lives of every human being. The fact that God controls the sun illustrates His glory. The sun is an agent for God, not meant to be worshipped but to provide light and life for us.

Consider some facts about the sun.

Compared with the billions of other stars in the universe, the sun is unremarkable. But for Earth and the other planets that revolve around it, the sun is a powerful center of attention. It holds the solar system together; pours life-giving light, heat, and energy on Earth; and generates space weather.

The sun is a big star. At about 864,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) wide, it could hold 109 planet Earths across its surface. If the sun were a hollow ball, more than a million Earths could stuff inside it. But the sun isn't hollow. It's filled with scorching hot gases that account for more than 99.8 percent of the total mass in the solar system. How hot? The temperature is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius) on the surface and more than 28 million degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 million Celsius) at the core. [Sun 101,]

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Psalms 19:5 continues discussing the sun by making two comparisons. It points out, "Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race." In ancient times, a bridegroom would spend the night before his wedding in a tent. The next morning he would come out ready for the wedding, dressed in a very splendid way. Similarly, the sun comes up each day with glory and splendor. Regarding the last part of verse 5, usually, an athlete comes out full of confidence and vigor, ready for the big race. (Think about the enthusiasm shown by football teams coming out onto the field.) In like manner, the sun rises with vigor and strength.

Psalms 19:6 exclaims, "Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat." Each day the sun makes its trek across the sky with all its splendor. Sometimes people say, attempting to criticize the Bible, this is scientifically incorrect as the earth moves around the sun. The sun, of course, does not move; instead, the earth is rotating around the sun. Does this mean the Bible is inaccurate? No, the writer is looking at the sun from the viewpoint of the earth. With all of our scientific knowledge, we still speak of a "sunrise" and "sunset" and refer to the movement of the sun across the sky.

Psalms 19:6b points out there is "nothing hid from its heat." Note the verse says "heat" and not "light." It is vital for the entire world to receive heat and energy from the sun.

The heavens do declare the glory of God, and the firmament does show His handy work. But, what we learn about God through nature is limited. From natural revelation, we learn about a God, but what is this God thinking? Why did He create man? What is the purpose of our lives upon the earth? Is this life all there is? If not, where do we go when we die? The answer is there is a special revelation that tells us about the God.

Special Revelation (Psalms 19:7-11)

Photo by chris liu on Unsplash

Some contend that these two sections do not belong in the same Psalm because, at some point in time, they were simply put together by someone. In response, the topic may have changed from one section to the next, but the message has not. The first section is talking about God speaking through natural revelation; the second section is talking about God speaking through special revelation.

This section contains six statements about God's Word, which are similar in construction. Each statement starts by using a synonym for God's Word, followed by a description of it, and then there is an action stated. Note the chart below.

Psalm 19:7-9
The Noun The Description The Action
1. The Law of the Lord Perfect Converting the Soul
2. The Testimony of the Lord Sure Making Wise the Simple
3. The Statutes of the Lord Right Rejoicing the heart
4. The Commandment of the Lord Pure Enlightening the Eyes
5. The Fear of the Lord Clean Enduring Forever
6. The Judgments of the Lord True Righteous Altogether

Psalms 19:7a explains, " The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." The "law" refers to the portion of God's Law, revealed at that time. Today, it would apply to the entire law of God, made known in both the Old and New Testaments. Note further how he speaks of the Law of the Lord, which makes this law different from any man-made law today. It is God's Law. Also, he describes God's Law as perfect. The word (Strong 8549) in the original means, "perfect; blameless; sincerity; entire; whole; complete; full." (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) Its use often pertains to the requirement of an animal sacrifice being "without blemish."

What does the Law of the Lord, which is perfect, do? It converts the soul. God's Law, the Scriptures, plays a crucial role in conversion. A person reads the Scriptures and determines he is a sinner and is lost (Romans 3:23; 6:23). He obeys the Law of the Lord, and his sins are forgiven (John 3:16; Mark 16:16; Romans 10:10,17; Acts 2:38). In Acts 3:19, Peter preached, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out...." Note James 1:21, which admonishes, "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." We are saved by the gospel (Romans 1:16) and by the "foolishness" (as some would call it) of preaching (I Corinthians 1:21).

Psalms 19:7b points out, " The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." The word "testimony" is another word for the words "statute," "law," and "commandment," also found in this section. God’s testimony is sure. Barnes points out that “‘testimony,’ or that revealed truth, is not unsettled, vacillating, uncertain. It is so certain that it may be relied on; so well established, that it cannot be shaken.” (Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database) Thus, the testimony of the Lord, which is sure, makes wise the simple. A person may have multiple degrees from academic institutions and still be classified as "simple" in this context. A simple person here is someone lacking in the knowledge and wisdom of God's Word; he is lacking that which keeps him from being converted. Thus, it would be essential for him to learn God's "testimony." Psalms 119:130 explains, “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”

Psalms 19:8a explains, "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart." The statutes would be the same as the "law" and the "testimonies" mentioned earlier. It refers to God's commandments. These statutes are right. Consider Psalm 33:4, which says, “For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth.”

Some people try and determine what is moral by their standards instead of by the "statutes" of the Lord, perhaps even admitting to disagreement with biblical teaching, thinking they are right and the Bible is wrong. But God (our Creator) has the right to tell people what to do and how to live. Thus, the "statutes of the Lord" are right, and those who oppose them are wrong. We can be comforted by the fact that God's Word is correct, which should cause us to rejoice. Psalm 119:14 connects joy with God's commandments as it reveals, "I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, as much as in all riches."

Psalms 19:8b reveals, "The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." The term commandment is similar to the other designations listed for the Word of God. The writer describes God’s commandments as pure. The original word means free from impurities, stains, and corruption. The Bible speaks of having a pure heart that comes from the Word of God. Next, the commandments (which are pure) enlightens the eyes. Through God's commandments, we are enlightened: we see what is right and proper and understand what we must do.

Psalms 19:9a gives a further description as it explains, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever." Please notice the chart above. With all of the descriptions in the first column, except for this one, it starts with a synonym for God's Word (i.e., the (law, testimony, statutes, commandments, and judgments). However, with the 5th, the Psalmist speaks of the "fear of the Lord." The writer may have simply deviated from the structural format. However, it seems quite probable the writer is employing metonymy. "Metonymy is a figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another to which it stands in a certain relation." (Figures of Speech Used in the Bible) An example in the Scriptures is John 8:58, when Simeon said after picking up the child Jesus, "Mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Can salvation be seen? Jesus is the "cause," and salvation is the "effect." The effect (salvation) is substituted for the cause (Jesus), so Simeon employs metonymy and is saying he had seen Jesus. In our verse, the Word of God is the cause, and the fear of the Lord is the effect. So the effect (fear of the Lord) is stated but is substituted for the cause (the Word of God). It seems the writer is keeping with the structure and is saying, the Word of God is clean (pure) and endures forever.

God's Word will endure forever; it cannot be destroyed. I Peter 1:23-25 tells us we have been born again, "... not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because 'All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.' Now this is the word which by the gospel was." Jesus taught in Matthew 24:3, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” In Psalm 119:60, the writer said, "The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

Over the years, many have tried to literally destroy the Bible but without success. Today the Bible is often ridiculed, dismissed, and pushed aside, but it continues to endure, and millions revere it. The Bible will last as a safe, steady guide as long as the earth stands. Consider the following poem.

Photo by Wolfgang Rottmann on Unsplash

The Anvil

Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
When looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers worn with beating years of time.

“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
“Just one,” said he; then said with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”

And so, I thought, the anvil of God’s Word
For ages skeptics’ blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed—the hammers gone!

[Attributed to John Clifford]

Psalms 19:9b reveals, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." "Judgments" would refer to God's revealed truth. Decisions made in a court of law are not always correct or fair. But, God's judgments and statutes found in the Scriptures regarding right and wrong will always be right. Also, at the final judgment, God's decisions about our eternal destination will be proper.

The judgments of the Lord are true and also righteous altogether. Again, the writer may have deviated from the structure (Note the chart above); however, this verb (Strong 663) should be in the third column under "action." This part appears to be an "ellipsis," and the idea is the judgments of God produces or causes righteousness.

In Psalms 19:10, the Psalmist leaves the format of Psalms 19:7-11, but he continues speaking about God's special revelation. It declares, "More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." People usually desire wealth and good food. All of the wealth in the world and the best culinary delight is worth less than God's Word.   In Psalm 119:97, the Psalmist said, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Job said, "I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12). Food essential for survival is worth less than God's Word.

Material possessions can only last for a short lifetime (I Timothy 6:6-11). Christians should not be primarily concerned about laying up treasures on earth but, instead, laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). Material wealth is fleeting, but treasures in heaven will last eternally. With this in mind, God's Word (which shows us how to get to heaven) is more valuable than gold or anything material.

Note Psalms 19:11, "Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward." This verse serves as a transition verse between the second and third sections. Based on the subject matter, he is still speaking about the Word of God (special revelation), but he begins to address God, which fits with prayer and spiritual examination focused on in the third part.

In Psalms 19:11a, near the end of the second section (Psalms 19:7-11), after having received a two-fold testimony (God's creation and His written Word), he refers to himself as God's servant or slave. This statement describes the proper relationship of a human being with his powerful Creator. Also, the first part of Psalms 19:11 might be called "caution," while the second part might be called "compensation."

First, consider "caution." The Word of God warns us (Psalms 19:11a), and this is needed (Ezekiel 3:18-21; I Thessalonians 5:14). Paul warned the Ephesian elders regarding false teachers (Acts 20:28-31). Further, (Colossians 1:28) Paul spoke of preaching Christ and said, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Paul wrote to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 4:14), “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.” Today, God's Word warns us. We must heed these warnings so we will stay on the road to heaven.

Second, consider the "compensation" (Psalms 19:11b). The Bible tells us if we keep God's Commandments, there is great reward. Numerous passages teach the need for obedience (Matthew 7:21; Hebrews 5:8-9; II Thessalonians 1:7-9; II Corinthians 5:10; James 2:14-26). There are certain ways in which God rewards us on earth (Ephesians 6:3, Matthew 6:33), but most importantly, there is the reward of heaven waiting for the faithful (Matthew 25:46, Revelation 22:14).

Having reached the end of the second section (Psalms 19: 7-11), consider a comparison between "natural revelation" and "special revelation."

  1. Both natural and special revelation reveals God's glory.  Both the language of the "heavens" and the message of the Scriptures (having God's theme of redemption) proclaim God's glory.
  2. They both contain essential instructions. With natural revelation, we learn "day unto day utters speech and night unto night reveals knowledge" (Psalms 19:2), and with special revelation, we learn the testimony of the Lord is sure, and it makes wise the simple (Psalms 19:7).
  3. Natural revelation is universal by default, but special revelation is not. Everyone in the world is an automatic recipient of natural revelation, but special revelation (God's Word) contains an essential human element as it must be taught and read before the opportunity to receive it exists.
  4. Natural revelation tells us about a God; special revelation tells us about the God. Natural revelation tells us about certain aspects of God, but it is lacking as it gives us an incomplete revelation. It only serves as a foundation for salvation. In contrast, special revelation (the Bible) gives us the complete picture enabling us to learn more about God and salvation.

Spiritual Examination

Psalms 19:12 asks, "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." This verse starts the third section of Psalm 19, which is "self-examination." The first two sections have resulted in the writer looking inwardly, seeing his various shortcomings, and now he humbly approaches God in prayer.

What is the answer to the question asked in Psalms 19:12a? Typically, we would answer this by saying we can all understand our errors if we desire to and have the right attitude. So generally, the answer would be "everybody." However, in this context, the answer seems to be "no one" because of Psalms 19:12b. David asks God to cleanse him from his secret faults. These are the sins he has committed, but he is unaware of them. A person may even forget the particular sins he has committed.

There is another sense in which a person can have secret sins. They are secret as they are private sins, i.e., the person guilty is aware of them, but others are not, and he does not want anyone to know about them. (This type of sin would be in contrast to the presumptuous sins of Psalms 19:13a.). Although we may hide certain sins from others, God knows about all sins, and we will give account for them on Judgment Day. Psalm 90:8 points out, “You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.” Romans 2:6 reveals, “in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”

Psalms 19:13 asks, "Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression." The presumptuous sin would be one which grows out of self-reliance and pride. Usually, the person who commits this sin does so openly and does not care if anyone else knows about it. Someone may say, "At least I am not a hypocrite." However, this person will also be judged by God. (Note Numbers 15:30-31; Deuteronomy 17:12-13). From Psalms 19:13, we also see sin can have dominion ("rule" NASB) over us. Sin can become our master, and we can become its slave (Romans 6:6-13). The Psalmist related, “Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalms 119:33). Sins such as alcohol, gambling, drug use, fornication/adultery can quickly gain control over a person.

Continuing with Psalms 19:13, the Psalmist said once he was "cleansed" (Psalms 19:12), if he were able to avoid presumptuous sins, and not allow sin to control him, then he would be blameless and innocent of great transgression. Sometimes people think if they avoid what they call the "big" sins and are only guilty of "little" sins, then they are acceptable to God. The Bible does not make this distinction. In the various sin lists found in the New Testament, sins which people often consider to be insignificant are listed together with those which people regard as significant. A person will fall under the same condemnation for being guilty of either (Romans 1:28-32; Revelation 21:8; Galatians 5:19-21).

Some think the phrase "great transgression" refers to one particular sin. Most likely, the writer is speaking about presumptuous sins, just mentioned. But some sins can be called "great" because of the earthly impact they have. (Consider the impact of David's sin with Bathsheba (II Samuel 12-13). A person, for example, may have an affair resulting in a home being broken up with young children even being affected. For sure, some sins can have a more significant impact than others as far as how other people are affected.

Finally, Psalms 19:14 concludes, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." We must speak in such a way to be "acceptable" to God. We can commit sins with our tongue by lying, using profanity, engaging in gossip, etc. James 3:5 reveals, "... the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" Proverbs 21:23 warns, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles." In Colossians 4:6, Paul admonished, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Psalms 91:14 speaks of words and thoughts but does not explicitly speak of deeds. Why is this? Perhaps it is because the writer dealt with deeds earlier. However, Psalms 19:14 stands independent in this respect because the "meditation of my heart" is inclusive of deeds. It is essential to realize the thoughts of the heart are the source from which actions spring. In Mark 7:20-23, Jesus said, “ . . . What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." If a person keeps his heart pure, he will not have so many problems with his deeds. It has been said, "We are not always what we think we are, but we are always what we think."

In the last part of Psalms 19:14, the writer refers to God as his strength. Vine defines the Hebrew word used here as, "rock; rocky wall; cliff; rocky hill; mountain; rocky surface; boulder” (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) Many translations render the word simply as "rock." Further, Psalm 18:2 reveals, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” God should be our ROCK!

Commenting on this passage, Barnes points out the following:

"The idea in this expression, and in the subsequent parts of the description, is that he owed his safety entirely to God. He had been unto him as a rock, a tower, a buckler, etc. - that is, he had derived from God the protection which a rock, a tower, a citadel, a buckler furnished to those who depended on them, or which they were designed to secure. The word "rock" here has reference to the fact that in times of danger a lofty rock would be sought as a place of safety, or that men would fly to it to escape from their enemies. Such rocks abound in Palestine; and by the fact that they are elevated and difficult of access, or by the fact that those who fled to them could find shelter behind their projecting crags, or by the fact that they could find security in their deep and dark caverns, they became places of refuge in times of danger; and protection was often found there when it could not be found in the plains below." [Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database].

Sometimes one person may refer to another as his/her rock. On a higher plain, God is our ROCK! He is our source of strength, and He is our refuge.

David also refers to God as his Redeemer. The Old Testament commonly refers to God as the “redeemer” of His people. The Hebrew word simply means "buy back." God redeemed His people from sin, death, and danger. When David referred to God as his redeemer, he probably did not understand the great price which would have to be paid for the redemption of mankind from the ultimate danger of sin. The price was the blood of God's Son (Jesus), who would die for the sins of mankind. Ephesians 1:7 points out, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”


It is not uncommon for people to look up at the sky during the day or night and come away with a reaction. Recognizing that "design demands a designer," it is often concluded that someone designed the universe. It is further concluded the designer of all of this must be powerful beyond imagination and knowledgeable beyond belief. This powerful creator must be divine, and the heavens do declare the glory of God!

At this point, however, mankind is left with an incomplete revelation. Who is this God? What is He like? What is He thinking? With awe, people begin to realize that this God, who has created all things, has further revealed Himself to humans through the Scriptures. Then, after examining the Scriptures, a person should be caused to look within himself, turning to God in prayer. Indeed, the heavens do declare the glory of God, and the firmament does show His handiwork.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email