The Righteous One’s Twin-Books of Nature & Law

a brief study of Psalm 19, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 8 Oct 2006

Psalm 19 is another of the psalms that does not appear Messianic and is hardly ever regarded as messianic by any commentator.

On first reading it appears to be about the material heavens, or about the cycles of day and night.

However, as we study this psalm and comparing Scripture with Scripture, you will realize that this psalm is regarded as being about the Messiah and His Gospel by the apostle Paul writing under inspiration. So this psalm is also Messianic like the rest of the psalms.

This Psalm lends itself naturally into two parts

First, verses 1-6 is about the Lord’s Book of Natural or General Revelation.

The second part, verses 7-14 is about the Lord’s Book of Special Revelation.

1. The Lord’s Book of Nature

We read in verse 1:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

The heavens here refers not to the dwelling place of angels. It describes rather the vastness of our sky and the expanse of space.

When we look up into the sky whether in the day or in the night, we cannot help but be filled with a sense of awe as we realize just how small we are.

In the day, the beauty of the clouds and the sun and blueness of the sky testifies of the wisdom and greatness of God.

In the night, the vastness of space and the awesome number of stars testifies of the wonder and power of God.

Day unto day and night unto night, the sky bears testimony of God’s handiwork and declares his greatness and power as the Creator and sustainer of the universe and of life.

This is the language of nature. God’s Creation is one long and eloquent sermon on the glory of God. And it is a sermon that is heard by all mankind throughout the ages: Verse 3—

3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

The language of creation is heard and understood by men, women and children through out the ages:

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Rom 1:20).

But does this message have anything to do with the Gospel? Well, it seems that it does not. But this is not how the apostle Paul understood it.

Turn to Romans 10:17-18—

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (Rom 10:17-18)

Paul is quoting from Psalm 19:4.

He has a very different idea of what the verse mean, doesn’t he? He tells us that Psalm 19:4 is not just about natural revelation brought about by the glory of the Sun. It is rather about the Gospel radiating from the Sun of Righteousness.

If you turn back to Psalm 19, verse 4b, you will see a reference to the Sun.

4b In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

On the surface, this is a poetic description of how the sun is like a bridegroom, who emerges every morning from his bedroom, to run a race from one end of the world to the other before going home to sleep.

But the apostle Paul is telling us that there is more to it. He teaches us under inspiration, that David was not only writing about the Sun, but about the Sun of righteousness, the bridegroom of the Church, His bride.

The fact that all men in the world throughout the ages have heard the language of the cosmic sun, bears testimony of that fact that Jews of the Old Testament, and indeed all men today are without excuse when they refuse to believe in the Gospel.

The Gospel was preached to the Jews for several thousand years before Christ came. The Jews could as well excuse themselves for not having heard of Christ as they could claim to have not seen the Sun.

Today after so many thousand years,the same may be said of the vast, vast majority of the people in the world. Hardly anyone at all in the world has not heard about Christ and the Gospel. They may not have heard the Gospel in it fullness and purity, but to claim not to have heard about Christ is almost as good as claiming not to have seen and felt the Sun.

Indeed, even if we suppose they have not heard of Christ or have heard only a very distorted view of Christ, they have no excuse for not seeking Him, for the Lord’s book of nature testifies of His glory and power (Rom 1:20). If man would take heed to the message of creation, and so seek the Creator, they would be found of the Lord!

Nevertheless, since the language of nature is not so clear and is subject to interpretation, God in His mercy caused that His Word be inscripturated in a way that can be passed down accurately from generation to generation.

This is what the second part of the Psalm is about.

2. The Lord’s Book
of Law

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes 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 for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

The Law of the LORD, His testimony, statutes, commandment, fear, and judgments are all referring to God’s Word or self-revelation.

God’s Word is perfect, sure, pure, clean, endures for ever and are true and righteous altogether.

God’s Word converts the soul, makes the simple wise, rejoices the heart, and enlightens the eyes. It is, verse 10—

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

I wonder how many of us can say the same about God’s Word. But I am sure we can all testify of how it has changed us, made us wiser, given us direction and brought us peace, joy and hope in our lives.

Is not the word of God more to be desired than gold? The bible is worth far more than its weight in 24 carat gold. And it is sweeter than the honey and the honeycomb for it delights not just the tongue for a moment. It delights the soul for all eternity.

And it is not just a notion or a feeling, for it is a fact that without the Word of God, our lives will be lived in constant dangers and frustration. The Word of God is God’s instruction manual for us.

I am a very firm believer that as long as we are living according to the Word of God, our life would be full of joy, peace, love and hope. A lot of unhappiness, quarrels, chaos and frustrations in life are really a result of our neglecting to read and obey God’s word. God would speak to us by His Word, but we refuse to take heed and so go into harm’s way.

Thus the psalmist says:

11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. 12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. 13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

‘Secret faults’ (v. 12) refer to sin of ignorance as against presumptuous sin. The servant, in so far as he is not named, must be Christ and all who are united to Him.

Even the Son of God must learn obedience as the God-Man. How does He learn obedience? By the Word of God. Christ, the God-Man, we must remember was not omniscient. He had to learn. He learned by the Word of God and by the Spirit bringing to His mind the Word of God.

How much more we who are the adopted children of God! Unless we learn the Word of God and live according to the Word of God, we shall stumble and fall and bring upon ourselves much misery, and we shall sin against God in ignorance and presumption.

But the keeping of the Word of God, on the other hand, brings much blessing.

The Lord Jesus says: "Seek ye first, the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you" (Mt 6:33).

To seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness is to seek to walk according to God’s word.

I am firmly convinced that God keeps His promise. If you find your life to be miserable or frustrating in some ways—you ought to ask yourself—wherein have I or my family failed to keep God’s Word?

Conversely, if you have been saturating yourself with God’s Word and walking in His way, you will find yourself enjoying the richness of the Word of God so that you cannot but praise the Lord for His Word.

You will find the word of God precious. You will find the Word of God sweeter than the honey and the honeycomb. You will find yourself extolling the Lord not only for His wonderful creation, but also for His wonderful Word:

14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

When my tongue is still and I can no more taste the sweetness of honey and the honeycomb, my soul will still sing of the sweetness of the Word of God.

Will you join me to sing of it beloved brethren and children?


— JJ Lim