Psalm 19 – Two Books

This is the classic text on General and Special Revelation.  The terms refer to the idea that God reveals himself generally, to all people, in nature and history, and perhaps in human nature.  The second term refers to more specific revelation through the Scriptures which contain the story of the faith descendants of Abraham.

Note that in the first 6 verses there is an exuberant and all pervasive communication to all the earth about the “glory of God.”  We find a universal but general message.  It is interesting that the word “God” (El in Hebrew) is used here.  This message is widespread but not specific.

Psalm 19:1-6
    To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

    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 measuring line 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.

   The following Verses celebrate with great joy the specificity of scripture.  There are 6 sayings that match nouns, adjectives and verbs, and then there are additional adjectives and verbs.  So you get a tapestry of specificity.  I note that there are different words for scripture (law, statues, precepts…) for their qualities (perfect, trustworthy, radiant…) and for their effect (making wise, reviving, giving joy).  V. 11 adds that there is both warning and reward – the Word is a two-edged sword, or if you prefer, there are two sides of the coin – both “Do Not” and “Do.”

Psalm 19:7-11
    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.

However, the world and the word are not enough for the Psalmist – he is concerned for his inability to honestly and truthfully hear, becasue of self-blindness.  So he calls upon the Lord to preserve him.

Psalm 19:12-14
    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.
    [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.

Note that in the Second and Third sections the Psalmist talks about and then to the LORD (Hebrew is YHWH).  This is the personal, covenant name that God uses with “his” people.  So in the end, the world and the word are personal!



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