“The Heavens Declare the Glory of God”

(Psalm 19)

Mike Johnson

Psalm 19 is beautifully written and has been revered by many people over the years. From it, many have been caused to conclude there is a God who created the universe, and He has revealed Himself to mankind through the Scriptures. As can be seen from verses 12-14, the awesomeness of these concepts should cause introspection on the part of man who will then appeal to God in prayer.

It is generally agreed Psalm 19 was written by David.  However, the point in his life when it was written is uncertain.  Some think it was written when he was being pursued by Saul who was on a quest to kill him.  Another view is it was written during the time when 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.  Verses 1-6 deal with natural revelation, i.e. the glories of the material universe; verses 7-11 pertain to special revelation, i.e. the divine law God has given to man; verses 12-14 show the concept of spiritual examination, i.e. the first  two sections would cause the writer to inwardly view himself and turn to God in prayer.  The Psalm may also be broken down as God in nature, God in Scripture, and God in the heart and conscience.  Another way to divide the sections are: the Work of God, the Word of God, and the Way of God.

Natural Revelation (Vs. 1-6)

The Psalm begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.”  Most who are familiar with the Bible are able to quote this passage.  This verse is one of the most well known passages in the book of Psalm.

Verse one makes it clear that God is our Creator.  It is God’s glory which is revealed by the heavens and the firmament.  Various passages in the Scriptures show God as our Creator.  Isaiah 44:24 says, “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 (2 Cor. 12:1-2), Paul spoke of being caught up to the “third heaven.”  This would imply 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 the heavens which declare the glory of God refers to the first and second heavens.

It is possible this verse may be intended as synonymous parallelism (i.e. expressing the same concept twice but using different words).  Consider, however, another view.  The word “firmament” simply means “an expanse.” The “firmament” refers to the atmosphere and pertains to what can be seen in the daytime, while the “heavens” refers to the realm beyond the atmosphere and pertains to what can be seen 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 normally done by humans, either verbal or written. However, in this case we have a personification, which attributes the power of speech and reasoning to inanimate objects.  (One example from the Scriptures is Job 28:22 which says, “Destruction and Death say, ‘We have heard a report about it with our ears.’”)  The heavens speak, but they are silently speaking.

This declaration by the heavens are perpetual.  Many translations render it as “are telling.” Notice also verse 2 which says, “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 is a theory which 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 says, “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.  Clearly, someone designed and built them. The same concept applies to our solar system, plant life, and the human body.  Obviously, a designer was 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, www.apologeticspress.org 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 says, “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.  The conclusion is found in Romans 3:23 which 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 (Ex. 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 (Josh. 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, however, a constant and universal message which the Gentiles had always received—the message of the “heavens” declaring the glories of God.  Romans 1:20 says, “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” (Rom. 1:21-25).

Verses 3-4 of our text says, “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 very limited. 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.  This was an awesome thought to consider him speaking, as I watched live, to millions of people.  Furthermore, his program is broadcasted to anyone in the world via the internet.  But, his program 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 very 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.  A person must simply look 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 verse 4 through verse 6 speaks of a particular part of the heavens, the sun.   Verse 4c says, “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.  God’s glory is illustrated as God even has control of it.  The sun is an agent for God, not meant to be worshipped but to provide light and life for mankind.

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 –  http: //science.nationalgeographic.com)

Verse 5 continues discussing the sun by making two comparisons.  It says, “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, normally 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.

Verse 6 says, “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.

Verse 6b says there is “nothing hid from its heat.” Note the verse says “heat” and not “light.”  It is vital for the entire world to receive the heat and energy from the sun.

Clearly, 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?  To answer these questions, there is special revelation which tells us about the God.

Special Revelation (7-11)

It is sometimes contended 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 out 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

Verse 7a says, ” The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”  The “law” refers to the portion of God’s Law which had been revealed at that time.  Today, it would refer to the entire law of God which is revealed in both the Old and New Testament.  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.  In addition, God’s Law is described as being perfect.  The word (Strong-8549) in the original means, “perfect; blameless; sincerity; entire; whole; complete; full.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)  It is often used of 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, play a key role in conversion.  A person reads the Scriptures and determines he is a sinner and is lost (Rom. 3:23, 6:23).  He obeys the Law of the Lord and his sins are forgiven (Jn. 3:16; Mk. 16:16; Rom. 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 says, “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 (Rom. 1:16) and by the “foolishness” (as some would call it) of preaching (I Cor. 1:21).

Verse 7b says, “ The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”  The word “testimony” is another word for the words “statute,” “law,” and “commandment” which are found in this section. We are told the 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 Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)  So, 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 says, “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.”

Verse 8a says, “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 own 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 right which should cause us to rejoice Psalm 119:14 connects joy with God’s commandments as it says, “I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.”

Verse 8b says, “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. God’s commandments are described as pure. The original word means free from impurities, stains, and corruption.  The Bible speaks of having a pure heart which 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.

Verse 9a gives a further description as it says, “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 out 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.”  It is possible the writer has 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, © 1968 by E.W. Bullinger.)  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. 1 Peter 1:23-25 says 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 is revered by millions.  The Bible will last as a safe, steady guide as long as the earth stands. Consider the following poem.

 

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 may 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

 

Verse 9b says, “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, it is possible the writer may have deviated from the structure (Note the chart above); however, it is probable this verb (Strong 663) should be placed 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 verse 10, the Psalmist leaves the format of verses 7-11, but he continues speaking about God’s special revelation.  It says, “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 Tim. 6:6-11). Christians should not be primarily concerned about laying up treasures on earth but, instead, laying up treasures in heaven (Mt. 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 verse 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 section.  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 verse 11a, near the end of the second section (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 describes the proper relationship of a human being with his powerful Creator. Also, the first part of verse 11 might be called “caution,” while the second part might be called “compensation.”

First, consider “caution.” We are warned by the Word of God (11a) and we need to be (Ezek 3:18-21, I Thess. 5:14). Paul warned the Ephesian elders regarding false teachers (Acts 20:28-31).  Further, (Col. 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 Cor. 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” (11b).  We are told if we keep them (God’s Commandments), there is great reward.  Numerous passages teach the need for obedience (Mt. 7:21, Heb. 5:8-9, II Thess. 1:7-9, II Cor. 5:10, James 2:14-26).  There are certain ways in which we will be rewarded on earth (Eph. 6:3, Mt. 6:33), but most importantly, there is the reward of heaven waiting for the faithful (Mt. 25:46, Rev. 22:14).

Having reached the end of the second section (vs. 7-11), consider a comparison between “natural revelation” and “special revelation.”

  • 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.
  • They both contain important instructions. With natural revelation, we learn “day unto day utters speech and night unto night reveals knowledge” (v. 2), and with special revelation, we learn the testimony of the Lord is sure and it makes wise the simple (v. 7).
  • 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 important human element as it must be taught and read before the opportunity to receive it exists.
  • 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 to salvation.  In contrast, special revelation (the Bible)  gives us the complete picture enabling us to learn more about God and salvation.

Spiritual Examination

Verse 12 says, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” This verse starts the third section of Psalm 19 which might be referred to as “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 12a?  Normally, 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 12b.  The Psalmist asks God to cleanse him from secret faults which are secret from him, i.e. sins of which he is unaware.  A person may even forget 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 verse 13a.). Although we may hide certain sins from others, God knows about all sins, and we will be judged for them on the Judgment Day. Psalm 90:8 says,  “You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.”  Romans 2:6 points out, “in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”

Verse 13 says, “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.  This person who commits this sin usually 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 Num. 15:30-31, Deut. 17:12-13).  From verse 13 we also see sin can have dominion (“rule” NASB) over us.  Sin can become our master, and we can become its slave (Rom. 6:6-13).  The Psalmist said (119:33), “Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.”  Sins such as alcohol, gambling, drug use, fornication/adultery can easily gain  control over a person.

Continuing with verse 13, the Psalmist said once he was “cleansed” (v. 12), if he were able to avoid presumptuous sins, if he did 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 might be considered significant.  A person will fall under the same condemnation for being guilty of either (Rom. 1:28-32, Rev. 21:8, Gal. 5:19-21).

Some think the phrase “great transgression” refers to one particular sin.  Most likely, the writer is speaking about presumptuous sins which were 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 Sam. 12-13.)  A person, for example, may have an affair resulting in a home being broken up with young children even being affected. For certain, some sins can have a larger impact than others as far as how other people are affected.

Finally, verse 14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”  It is important we 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.”

Verse 14 speaks of words and thoughts but does not specifically speak of deeds.  Why is this?  It could be said deeds have already been dealt with earlier.  However, verse 14 stands independent in this respect because the “meditation of my heart” is inclusive of deeds.  It is important to realize the thoughts of the heart are the source from which actions spring. In Mark 7:20-23, Jesus said “And He 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 verse 14, the writer refers to God as his strength.  The Hebrew word used here can be defined by Vine as, “rock; rocky wall; cliff; rocky hill; mountain; rocky surface; boulder” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)  Many translations render the word simply as “rock.” Further, Psalm 18:2 says, “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 Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

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. God is often referred to as the “redeemer” of His people in the Old Testament.  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 which would have to be paid 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.”

Conclusion

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 the universe was designed by someone.  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 mankind through the Scriptures. Then, after examining the Scriptures, a person should be caused to look within himself, turning to God in prayer.

Truly, the heavens do declare the glory of God and the firmament does show His handiwork.  What is your reaction to the “heavens”?