Dear Reader, we are studying a few random Psalms but an in depth study of which this

chapter is but an example, will bear “much reward” (v. 11)  My personal study of the

book of Psalms, using the Pulpit Commentary took from July 13, 1972 to June 12, 1973. 

I imagine that if I had had access to, and used Spurgeon’s Treasury of David that it

would have taken twice that long.  I have no doubt, it too, would have borne

“great reward”! (v.11) – CY - 2009     (The following texts highlighted in this color

of blue is taken from The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon that in

black is from the King James Version and from the Pulpit Commentary) 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved. 

Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

 

                                                Psalm 19

 

                                       A Psalm of David

 

This psalm is one of meditative praise.  The psalmist, looking abroad over the whole

world, finds two main subjects for his eulogy;

           

(1)  vs. 1-6 - the glorious fabric of God’s material creation

(2)  vs. 7-11 - the glories of the Divine Law (God’s Word) which He has given

       to man.

 

There are three main divisions:

           

(1)  vs. 1-6 – the creatures show God’s glory

            (2)  vs. 7-11 – the Word shows God’s grace

            (3)  vs. 12-14 – Having thus poured out his heart in praise and thanksgiving

       to God, he turns his eye inward upon himself, and finds many short

       comings  (v. 12). The thought of these leads him to prayer, and so the

       hymn concludes with a few short petitions (vs. 12-13).  David prays

       for grace (v. 14)

 

Thus praise and prayer are mingled, and he who here sings the work of God

in the world without, pleads for a work of grace in himself within!

 

 

Rhythmically, the divisions correspond to the changes in the thought.

There is first a stately movement, continued for six versos, devoted to the

glories of the universe; then a livelier strain in longer (mostly double) lines,

praising the Law of the Lord, and extending to five verses only; finally, a

conclusion in short, broken lines, limited to three verses.

 

The psalm is generally allowed to be David’s, and is declared to be his by

the title. There are no internal indications by which to assign it a date.

 

 

In his earliest days the psalmist, while keeping his father's flock, had devoted himself

to the study of God's two great books—nature and Scripture; and he had so

 thoroughly entered into the spirit of these only two volumes in his library that he was

able with a devout criticism to compare and contrast them, magnifying the excellency

of the Author as seen in both. How foolish and wicked are those who instead of

accepting the two sacred tomes, and delighting to behold the same divine hand in

each, spend all their wits in endeavoring to find discrepancies and contradictions.

We may rest assured that the true "Vestiges of Creation" will never contradict

Genesis, nor will a correct "Cosmos" be found at variance with the narrative of

Moses. He is wisest who reads both the world book, and the Word book as two

volumes of the same work, and feels concerning them, "My Father wrote them both."

(C. H. Spurgeon)

 

vs. 1-6 – “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth

His handy work.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth

knowledge.  There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the

world. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom

coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.   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.”

 

  • The Voice of God in His Works.  There is enough in this psalm for twenty

      lessons but our purpose is indicate how by an exposition of the psalm as a

      whole, may be brought home to us instruction for everyday life.   At the

      same time, the two divisions of the psalm are so entirely distinct that they

      call for separate treatment, as they open up to the reader entirely different

      branches of thought and instruction. 

 

      We have in its first six verses a rehearsal of the voices of God in the

            firmament above.  The heavens declare the glory of God-  literally, the

heavens are recounting the glory of God — of El, “the Mighty One” — the

God of nature (see Romans 1:20). David is perhaps carrying out his declared

intention (Psalm 18:49) of praising God “among the heathen,” and

therefore takes their standpoint — the ground of nature. The book of         

            nature has three leaves, heaven, earth, and sea, of which heaven is the first and

            the most glorious, and by its aid we are able to see the beauties of the other

            two. Any book without its first page would be sadly imperfect, and especially

            the great Natural Bible, since its first pages, the sun, moon, and stars, supply

            light to the rest of the volume, and are thus the keys, without which the writing    

            which follows would be dark and undiscerned. Man walking erect was evidently  

            made to scan the skies, and he who begins to read creation by studying the stars   

            begins the book at the right place. The heavens are plural for their variety,  

            comprising the watery heavens with their clouds of countless forms, the aerial       

            heavens with their calms and tempests, the solar heavens with all the glories of      

            the day, and the starry heavens with all the marvels of the night; what the

            Heaven of heavens must be hath not entered into the heart of man, but there in     

            chief all things are telling the glory of God. Any part of creation has more

            instruction in it than human mind will ever exhaust, but the celestial realm

            is peculiarly rich in spiritual lore. The heavens declare, or are declaring,

            every moment God's existence, power, wisdom and goodness, are being

            sounded abroad by the heavenly heralds which shine upon us from above.

            It is not merely glory that the heavens declare, but the "glory of God" for

            they deliver to us such unanswerable arguments for a conscious, intelligent,           

            planning, controlling, and presiding Creator, that no unprejudiced person

            can remain unconvinced by them. The testimony given by the heavens is no

            mere hint, but a plain, unmistakable declaration; and it is a declaration of the

most constant and abiding kind. Yet for all this, to what avail is the loudest

            declaration to a deaf man, or the clearest showing to one spiritually blind? God    

            the Holy Ghost must illuminate us, or all the suns in the milky way never         

            will!  And we gather from the forms of expression that the writer was

            accustomed to speak of natural phenomena in the language of his day. In his

            view the firmament of heaven spread out as a hemisphere above the earth, like

            a splendid and transparent sapphire, in which the stars were supposed to be

            fixed, (remember that God knows them all by names – Isaiah 40:26) and over       

            which the Hebrews believed there was a heavenly  ocean. The Bible was not         

            meant to teach science, (true science will never conflict with the Bible  the         

            problem is philosophy – corrupted after vain man puts in his two cents worth   

            CY – 2009) but to teach God.  Science has to do with the matter, order, and laws

            of the creation. In religion we have to do with the great Author of all. And while  

            we find the writer far enough away from our present conceptions of what the       

            heavens are, we find he is one to whom God had spoken as Jehovah, the great

            “I AM” and who had been taught God’s Law to man as well as God’s

            utterances in nature. And as God’s voices to us have become clearer than

            they were in the psalmist’s time, by his revelation in Christ Jesus, so the

            glory of His works has become amazingly clearer through the discoveries

            man has made therein; (remember – God gave man two directives in Genesis

            1:28:  (1) “fill the earth with people” and (2) “subdue it” which means find

            out its secrets!   He will fall very far short of a suitable setting forth of the

            truths of this first half of the psalm, who does not utilize the recent discoveries

            of science as a pedestal on which to set, in clearer and fuller ways, Jehovah’s       

            glory!  The expositor is bound to show how gloriously science helps religion,

            in furnishing him with new material for setting forth the greatness of God!

 

ü      Their Incessant Activity Witnesses and Speaks of the Glory of God. 

      “The heavens declare” (the heavens, the firmament, the sun, and

      the orderly succession of day and night). Their activity is not conscious

      on their part, but it is nevertheless real. Light is ever acting on the   

      vegetable world, and helps to open the petals of the flower, to give            

      blossom its color, and fruit its sweetness. Thus there is a reciprocal

      relation established between the sunbeam and the plant. Man needs

      oxygen to breathe and he gives off carbon dioxide when he exhales,

      so God made plants to take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen –

      the hydrological cycle – and myriads of other processes – as Spurgeon

                        would say – “My Father made them all”.  So also is there between the                            

                        stars above us and the mind of man. And though they utter not a word                              

                        (v. 3, Hebrew), “There is no speech nor language, where their voice

is not heard;” rather, there is no speech, there are no words; their

voice is not heard; i.e. the speech which they utter is not common

speech — it is without sound, without language; no articulate voice

is to be heard they are sounding forth a message to the soul of man.                                   

                        “Their line is gone out through all the earth” - (v.4). . It is much

disputed what “their line means. The word used, qav (קַו), means,

ordinarily, a “measuring-line” (Ezekiel 47:3: Zechariah 1:16, etc.),

whence it comes to have the further sense of a terminus or boundary;

that which the measuring-line marks out. It is also thought to have

signified an architect’s rule; and, hence, anything regulative, as a

decree, precept, or law (see Isaiah 28:10). The Septuagint                                        

                        translated it in this place by φθόγγοςphthoggos) - a musical note

                        [vocal or instrumental]:   sound,  “a musical sound;” and Dr. Kay

                        supposes “the regulative chord,” or “keynote.” to be intended. Perhaps                              

                        “decree” would be in this place the best rendering, since it would suit the                          

                        “words” (millim) of the second clause.  The decree” of the heavens is

                        one proclaiming the glory of God, and the duty of all men is to worship                             

                        Him.  And their words to the end of the world” - Though they have                              

                        neither speech nor language, nor any articulate words, yet they have                                   

                        “words” in a certain sense.  Millim is said to be used of thoughts just                                  

                        shaping themselves into language, but not yet uttered.  The word “line”

is one of much interest. It meant, first, any cord or string; then a string                               

                        stretched out so as to emit a musical sound; then the sound emitted by

the string; then a full musical chord.

 

                                                “For ever singing, as they shine,

                                                ‘The hand that made us is Divine!’”

 

“In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun.”  God has made the

heavens the sun’s dwelling-place, the place where he passes the day.

There is, perhaps, a tacit allusion to the Shechinah, which dwelt in the

tabernacle of the congregation:

 

5 “Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber”;

literally, and he is as a bridegroom. The bridegroom went forth to meet

the bride in glorious apparel, and “preceded by a blaze of torch-light”

The sun’s “chamber” is where he passes the night — below the

earth; from this he bursts forth at morning in his full glory, scattering the

darkness, and lighting up his splendid “tabernacle.” And rejoiceth as a

strong man-to run a race (compare Judges 5:31, “As the sun when he

goeth forth in his might). The Prayer-book Version, if less literal, better

conveys the spirit of the original.

 

 

 

ü      These Activities are Wondrously Varied. The four verbs used here are

all of them exceedingly expressive. The heavens are telling the glory

of God, recounting it to us as in the pages of a book; the firmament is

showing His handiwork, setting it before our eyes as in a picture; not

handy in the vulgar use of that term, but hand work. The expanse is full

of the works of the Lord's skillful, creating hands; hands being attributed

to the great creating Spirit to set forth His care and workmanlike action,

and to meet the poor comprehension of mortals. It is humbling to find

that even when the most devout and elevated minds are desirous to

express their loftiest thoughts of God, they must use words and

metaphors drawn from the earth. We are children, and must each

      confess, "I think as a child, I speak as a child." In the expanse above

      us God flies, as it were, His starry flag to show that the King is at          

      home, and hangs out his escutcheon that atheists may see how He

                        despises their denunciations of Him. He who looks up to the

                        firmament and then writes himself down an atheist, brands himself at

                        the same moment as an idiot or a liar. Strange is it that some who love                               

                        God are yet afraid to study the God declaring book of nature; the mock                            

                        spirituality of some believers, who are too heavenly to consider the                                    

                        heavens, has given color to the vaunts of infidels that nature contradicts                            

                        revelation. The wisest of men are those who with pious eagerness

                        trace the goings forth of Jehovah as well in creation as in grace.  Dr.

                        McCosh has well said "We have often mourned over the attempts made

                        to set the works of God against the Word of God, and thereby excite,                               

                        propagate, and perpetuate jealousies fitted to separate parties that ought

                        to live in closest union. In particular, we have always regretted that                                    

                        endeavors should have been made to depreciate nature with a view of                               

                        exalting revelation; it has always appeared to us to be nothing else than

                        the degrading of one part of God's work in the hope thereby of exalting                            

                        and recommending another. Let not science and religion be reckoned as                            

                        opposing citadels, frowning defiance upon each other, and their troops                              

                        brandishing their armor in hostile attitude. They have too many common                            

                        foes, if they would but think of it, in ignorance and prejudice, in passion                           

                        and vice, under all their forms, to admit of their lawfully wasting their                               

                        strength in a useless warfare with each other. Science has a foundation,                             

                        and so has religion; let them unite their foundations, and the basis will be                          

                        broader, and they will be two compartments of one great fabric reared to                           

                        the glory of God. Let one be the outer and the other the inner court. In the                                    

                        one, let all look, and admire and adore; and in the other, let those who                               

                        have faith kneel, and pray, and praise. Let the one be the sanctuary where                         

                        human learning may present its richest incense as an offering to God, and                          

                        the other the holiest of all, separated from it by a veil now rent in twain,                            

                        and in which, on a blood sprinkled mercy seat, we pour out the love of a                           

                        reconciled heart, and hear the oracles of the living God."   (Rev. Dr.                                  

                        James McCosh – Scottish preacher and immigrant to the United                                   

                        States – the 11th President of Princeton University) - Day                                              

                        unto day uttereth speech  literally, poureth out speech, as water is                                    

                        poured from a fountain. Each day bears its testimony to the next,

                        and so the stream goes on in a flow that is never broken - day unto day                              

                        welleth forth speech, pouring it out, “and night unto night showeth                                  

                        knowledge”Compare Paul’s statement, that “that which may be

known of God” is manifested to man through the creation (Romans

1:19-20). A certain superiority seems to be assigned to the night,

“as though the contemplation of the starry firmament awakened

deeper, more spiritual, thoughts than the brightness of day.”

As if one day took up the story where the other left it, and each night

passed over the wondrous tale to the next.  They are

welling over and flowing evermore with Jehovah’s praise!  Oh, to

                        drink often at the celestial well, and learn to utter the glory of God!  The

                        witnesses above cannot be slain or silenced; from their elevated seats

                        they constantly preach the knowledge of God, unawed and unbiased

                        by the judgments of men.  Even the changes of alternating night and day

                        are mutely eloquent, and light and shade equally reveal the

Invisible One.  Let our changes in circumstances do the same, and while

we bless the God of our days of joy, let us also extol Him who giveth

“songs in the night.” (Job 35:10)  The lesson of day and night is one

which it were well if all men learned.  It should be among our day-

thoughts and night-thoughts to remember the flight of time, the

changeable character of earthly things, the brevity both of joy

and sorrow, the preciousness of life, our utter powerlessness to

recall the hours once flown, and the irresistible approach of eternity. 

Paul said  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in

them; for God hath shewed it unto             them.  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:” (Romans

1:19-20) Do not forget the testimony of Hebrews 1:1-3 – “God, who

at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the

fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by

His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also

He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and

the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the

word of His power, when He had BY HIMSELF purged                                   

                        our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:”  A                                   

                        certain superiority seems to be assigned to the night, “as though the                              

                        contemplation of the starry firmament awakened deeper, more                         

                        spiritual, thoughts than the brightness of day.” - night unto night                                   

                        breatheth out knowledge, breathing it out gently so that the attentive                     

                        listener may hear. “During the French Revolution, it was said to a

peasant, ‘ I will have all your steeples pulled down, that you may no

longer have any object by which you may be reminded of your old

superstitions.’ ‘But,’ replied the peasant, ‘you cannot help leaving

us the stars.’”

 

ü      All This Variety Expresses a Creating Power - “The glory of God;”

                        “The firmament showeth His handiwork.” (On “the firmament,”

see Genesis 1:6, 20.) It is the entire atmosphere enveloping the earth, in

which the clouds hang and the birds move. Like the starry heavens above,

this, too, showeth,” or rather, “proclaimeth,” God’s handiwork. When

this is said, there are two points involved, one implied, the other

expressed. It is implied that man has the faculty of understanding

these varied forms of expression. We call it “Common Sense”.  The

question of the origin of things will, must, come up; quite irrespectively

of method, there will be the question of cause. The old design argument

is valid as ever, though it may need to be thrown into a different form. 

From nature’s framework, power, wisdom, benevolent adaptation and

order are manifest.  (And to think that there are cultural wars being

fought in the United States over the concept of INTELLIGENT DESIGN!  

“The fool hath said in his heart there is no God” (Psalm 14:1) – CY –

                        2009)  Jesus said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,                              

                        because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and                                   

                        hast revealed them unto babes.”  (Matthew 11:25) It often is only the                               

                        lowly, devout, and loyal spirit that will see God in all things, and enjoy

                        all things in God.

 

ü      God’s Message from the Heavens is Responded to in Holy Song.

                        Whoso forgets the title of the psalm will miss much of its beauty and                                 

                        glory. It is meant for the choirmaster. It is to be set to music, and uttered

                        in song. Poetry, music and song, are the audible response of man to the                              

                        inaudible voices of the day and of the night. Through the stars, God

                        speaks to man without words; with his voice man speaks to God. Thus

                        the universe is one grand antiphony (response from two groups of                                      

                        singers). God’s music delighting man; man’s music adoring God.

                        Let us remember the encouraging words of Zephaniah 3:17  “The

                        Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will

                        rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy

                        over thee with singing”.   The heavens speak to us of God; we respond

                        to the God of heaven.  His going forth is from the end of heaven, and

                        his circuit unto the ends of it:  and there is nothing hid from the heat                            

                        thereof.” (The sun is one hundred and sixty-six times bigger than the

                        earth, and yet it is every day carried by the finger of God so great a

                        journey, so long a course, that if it were to be taken on land, it should

                        run every hour of the day two hundred and twenty-five German miles.)                             

                        Many things are hidden from the light of the sun, but nothing                                             

                        from its “heat” which is the vital force whence the whole earth receives                            

                        life and energy.  (The same is said of Jehovah God who is Omniscient,

                        Omnipresent and Omnipotent – His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ,

                        is also termed the “Sun of Righteousness”!  Malachi 4:2 – CY – 2009)

 

 

Note: Although we do not wish here to anticipate unduly the teaching of the second

half of this psalm, yet we may be permitted to remark that, glorious as the music of

the heavens is to those who have ears to hear, yet there is another message from the

eternal throne, which alone tells us the thoughts God has towards us, and which,

when understood and received, does touch our hearts and move our tongues to louder,

sweeter, tenderer song than ever nature’s glory could inspire.  And there is nothing hid

from the heat thereof. Many things are hidden from the light of the sun, but nothing

from its “heat” which is the vital force whence the whole earth receives life and energy. 

All the sun’s glory is but the glory of God; even the sun shines in light borrowed from

the Great “Father of Lights with whom is no variableness neither shadow of

turning”  (James 1:17)  In the New Jerusalem there will be neither sun nor moon to

shine in it “for the glory of God did lighten it and the Lamb is the light thereof”

(Revelation 21:23)  Like the sun to the world physically God makes a circuit of mercy,

blessing the remotest corners of the earth; and there are no seeking souls, however

degraded (Billy Graham answered one in his column in the Hopkinsville Kentucky

New Era tonight –this being August 25, 2009 – CY) and depraved, who shall be

denied the comfortable warmth and benediction of His love!  Even death shall feel the

power of His presence, and resign the bodies of the saints, and this fallen earth

shall be restored to pristine glory!  “we according to His promise look for

new heavens and a new earth, WHEREIN DWELLETH RIGHTEOUSNESS”-

(II Peter 3:13)

 

vs. 7-11 – “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony

of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.  The statutes of the LORD are

right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening

the eyes.  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of

the LORD are true and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than

gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them

there is great reward.”  The transition from the glories of the material universe to

the “law of the Lord” is abrupt and startling. But it is the law and order that pervades

the material universe which constitutes its main glory; and the analogy between God’s

physical laws and His moral laws is manifestly evident. 

 

  • The Voice of God in His Word.  The Prophet Isaiah (45:18-19) refers both to

      the work of God’s hands in the world which He has created, and to the words of

      His lips in the promises He has made; and in both cases it is said, “not in vain”.    

      “Not in vain” is the earth formed; “not in vain….I declare things that are

      right” - is the promise uttered. In both there is a Divine aim and purpose.

 

ü      The Heavens Speak of God.  The Word Declares Jehovah. It is too

      commonly supposed that the use of the several words Elohim and

      “Jehovah” indicates a difference either of date, of document, or of

      authorship.  (for an in depth discussion see – Psalm 19 – Names

                        of God – Elohim – by Nathan Stone and Psalm 19 – Names of God -                            

                        Jehovah – by Nathan Stone – this web site – CY – 2009)  There does

                        not seem to us to be any adequate ground for such distinctions. As we in                           

                        one and the same sermon or tract may use a dozen different names for                               

                        God, why may it not have been so of old?  The word Elohim

                        indicates God as the God of nature. The word “Jehovah” points to Him

                        as the revealed God of our fathers. And it is from our own revealed God                           

                        that the Word proceeds, from the depths of His heart; it is far more than                            

                        any works of his hands. Hence the change of the word “God” to the

                        word  “Jehovah.”

 

ü       Jehovah has put before us Priceless Material for our Use.  There are

      six various terms to indicate this: a hexapla containing six descriptive

                        titles of the word, six characteristic qualities mentioned and six divine                               

                        effects declared. Names, nature, and effect are well set forth.

 

Ø      Law:  in which God would have His people instructed. “The

      Law of the Lord is perfect” - Whatsoever proceeds from God is

      perfect in its kind; His “Law” especially -  the rule of life to His

                                    rational creatures. That salvation is not by the Law is not the fault                                      

                                    of the Law, but of man, who cannot keep it. “The Law” itself “is                                     

                                    holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good”(Romans                         

                                    7:12).  The doctrine revealed by God David declares to be perfect,                                     

                                    and yet David had but a very small part of the Scriptures, and if a                                      

                                    fragment, and that the darkest and most historical portion, be                                             

                                    perfect, what must the entire volume be? How more than perfect is                                                

                                    the book which contains the clearest possible display of divine                                           

                                    love, and gives us an open vision of redeeming grace. The                                               

                                    gospel is a complete scheme or law of gracious salvation,                                                    

                                    presenting to the needy sinner everything that his terrible                                                    

                                    necessities can possibly demand. There are no redundancies and no                                    

                                    omissions in the Word of God, and in the plan of grace; why then                                      

                                    do men try to paint this lily and gild this refined gold? The gospel                                      

                                    is perfect in all its parts, and perfect as a whole: it is a crime to

                                    add to it, treason to alter it, and felony to take from it.  The

                                    Bible ends with the warning:  “For I testify unto every man

                                    that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any                                                        

                                    man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the                                          

                                    plagues that are written in this book:  And if any man shall                                           

                                    take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God                                        

                                    shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the                                        

                                    holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

                                    (Revelation 22:18-19) Converting (rather, as in the margin,                                              

                                    restoring) the soul” The word employed, meshibah, is used of                                            

                                    restoring from disorder and decay (Psalm 80:19), from sorrow and                                     

                                    affliction (Ruth 4:15), and from death (1 Kings 17:21-22). The                                           

                                    Law, by instructing men, restores them from moral blindness to

                                    the light which is theirs by nature (Romans 1:19), and, as a further                                     

                                    consequence, in many cases, restores them from sin to                                                         

                                    righteousness.  The practical effect of the Word of God is to turn                                       

                                    the man to himself, to his God, and to holiness; and the turn or

                                    conversion is not outward alone, "the soul" is moved and                                                  

                                    renewed. The great means of the conversion of sinners is the

                                    Word of God, and the more closely we keep to it in our ministry                                        

                                    the more likely we are to be successful. It is God's Word rather                                          

                                    than man's comment on God's Word which is made mighty with                                        

                                    souls. When the law drives and the gospel draws, the action is                                            

                                    different but the end is one, for by God's Spirit the soul is made to                                                

                                    yield, and cries, "Turn me, and I shall be turned." (Jeremiah

                                    31:18)  Try men's depraved nature with philosophy and reasoning,                                     

                                    and it laughs your efforts to scorn, but the Word of God soon                                            

                                    works a transformation.

 

Ø       Testimony:  or the Divine declaration as to what He is,

                                    has done, is doing, and will do.  The testimony of the Lord is                                         

                                    sure”. ‘Eduth - the word translated “testimony is employed                                             

                                    especially of the Decalogue (Exodus 25:16, 21, 22, 26;

                                                                        Numbers 9:15); but may be regarded as one of the many synonyms                                    

                                    under which the whole Law may be spoken of (see Psalm 119:2,                                        

                                    14, 22, 24, 88). The Law is “sure” -  fixed, firm, stable - in                                                 

                                    comparison with the fleeting, shifting, unstable judgments of                                              

                                    human reason. God bears His testimony against sin, and

                                    on behalf of righteousness; He testifies of our fall and of our                                              

                                    restoration; this testimony is plain, decided, and infallible, and is

                                    to be accepted as sure. God's witness in His Word is so sure that                                        

                                    we may draw solid comfort from it both for time and eternity,

                                    and so sure that no attacks made upon it however fierce or subtle                                       

                                    can ever weaken its force. What a blessing that in a world of                                           

                                    uncertainties we have something sure to rest upon! We hasten

                                    from the quicksands of human speculations to the terra firma of                                         

                                    Divine Revelation. Making wise the simplei.e. enlightening                                           

                                    their moral judgment.  Humble, candid, teachable minds receive                                         

                                    the word, and are made wise unto salvation. Things hidden from                                        

                                    the wise and prudent are revealed unto babes. (Matthew 11:25)

                                    The persuadable grow wise, but the cavillers continue fools. As a                                       

                                    law or plan the Word of God converts, and then as a testimony it                                       

                                    instructs; it is not enough for us to be converts, we must continue                                       

                                    to be disciples; and if we have felt the power of truth, we must go                                     

                                    on to prove its certainty by experience. The perfection of the

                                    gospel converts, but its sureness edifies; if we would be edified it                                      

                                    becomes us not to stagger at the promise through unbelief, for a                                         

                                    doubted gospel cannot make us wise, but truth of which we are                                          

                                    assured will be our establishment.

 

 

Ø      Statutes: or precepts, which indicate specific duty.  The

      statutes of the Lord are right” rather, the precepts of the Lord      

      are right.  His precepts and decrees are founded in righteousness,   

      and are such as are right or fitted to the right reason of man. As a   

      physician gives the right medicine, and a counselor the right           

      advice, so does the Book of God -  rejoicing the heart” - God’s  

      precepts “rejoice the heart” of the godly. They are not felt as        

      stern commands, (His commandments are not grievous” – I John            

      5:4 ) but as gracious intimations of what God desires man to do

                                     for his own good.  Mark the progress; he who was converted was                                      

                                    next made wise and is now made happy; that truth which makes                                        

                                    the heart right then gives joy to the right heart. Free grace brings                                        

                                    heart joy. Earthborn mirth dwells on the lip, and flushes the bodily                                     

                                    powers; but heavenly delights satisfy the inner nature, and fill the                                      

                                    mental faculties to the brim. There is no cordial of comfort like                                           

                                    that which is poured from the bottle of Scripture.

 

Ø      Commandments: or rules for the regulation of the entire life.

                                    The commandment of the Lord is pure” - i.e. spotless, clean,                                         

                                    without fault (comp. v. 7, “The Law of the Lord is perfect”). 

                                    No mixture of error defiles it, no stain of sin pollutes it; it is the                                          

                                    unadulterated milk, the undiluted wine. “Enlightening the eyes”                                       

                                    i.e. giving light to the intellect - purging away by its own purity

                                    the earthly grossness which mars the intellectual discernment:                                             

                                    whether the eye be dim with sorrow or with sin, the Scripture is a                                       

                                    skilful oculist, and makes the eye clear and bright. Look at the

                                    sun and it puts out your eyes, look at the more than sunlight of

                                    Revelation and it enlightens them; the purity of snow causes

                                    snow blindness to the Alpine traveler, but the purity of God's

                                    truth has the contrary effect, and cures the natural blindness of

                                    the soul. It is well again to observe the gradation; the convert                                             

                                    becomes a disciple and next a rejoicing soul, he now obtains a                                            

                                    discerning eye and as a spiritual man discerneth all things,

                                    though he himself is discerned of no man.  (I Corinthians 2:14-15)

 

Ø      Fear:  that fear of God, so repeatedly enjoined.The fear of the

                                    Lord is cleanThe fear of the Lord” in this place is “the

instruction afforded by God for fearing Him.” And certainly,

unless we adopt some such explanation, we shall find it difficult

to account for the intrusion of the clause into its present position.

The Law, the testimony, the statutes (or precepts), the

commandment (vs. 7-8), and the judgments (v. 9), are external

to man, objective; the fear of the Lord, as commonly understood,

is internal, subjective, a “settled habit of his soul.”  It is not a

thing of the same kind with the other five nominatives, and

appears out of place among them. he doctrine of truth is here

described by its spiritual effect, viz., inward piety, or the fear of

the Lord; this is clean in itself, and cleanses out the love of sin,

sanctifying the heart in which it reigns.  Mr. Godly fear is never

satisfied till every street, lane, and alley, yea, and every house and

every corner of the town of Man soul is clean rid of the

Diablolonians who lurk therein – “enduring for ever” -   The

      Law, viewed as teaching the fear of God, is undoubtedly “clean”

-  i.e. pure, perfect – but it “endures for ever,” or is of

PERPETUAL OBLIGATION!  Filth brings decay, but

cleanness is the great foe of corruption. The grace of God in

the heart being a pure principle, is also an abiding and

incorruptible principle, which may be crushed for a time,

but cannot be utterly destroyed. Both in the Word and in the

heart, when the Lord writes, He says with Pilate, "What I

have written, I have written” -  He will make

                                    no erasures Himself, much less suffer others to do so. The

                                    revealed will of God is never changed; even Jesus came not to                                            

                                    destroy but to fulfil (Matthew 5:17), and even the ceremonial law                                      

                                    was only changed as to its shadow, the substance intended by it is                                     

                                    eternal. When the governments of nations are shaken with                                             

                                    revolution, and ancient constitutions are being repealed, it

                                    is comforting to know that the throne of God is unshaken,

                                    and His law unaltered.  (A very encouraging thought for a

                                    very discouraging time – CY – 2009)

 

                                   

Ø      Judgments:  The judgments of the Lord are true and

righteous altogether. (v. 9)  In “judgments” we have

another of the recognized synonyms for the entire Law (Psalm

119:7, 13, 43, 52, 62), which is from first to last “exceeding

righteous and true” (ibid. v.138, Prayer-book Version).

Judgments are the right-settings, in the Divine declarations

      pronounced against sin and in favor of righteousness. Let us put

      all these together, and lo, how rich are we in having all these           

      voices from the eternal throne! But how much richer still are we

in having the words of the New Testament economy superadded

to those of the old!  Jointly and severally the words of the Lord

are true; that which is good in detail is excellent in the mass; no      

      exception may be taken to a single clause separately, or to the

      book as a whole. God's judgments, all of them together, or each

      of them apart, are manifestly just, and need no laborious

                                    excuses to justify them. The judicial decisions of Jehovah, as                                              

                                    revealed in the law, or illustrated in the history of His

                                    providence, are truth itself, and commend themselves to every                                            

                                    truthful mind; not only is their power invincible, but their justice

                                    is unimpeachable.

 

 

ü      The Words of Jehovah are Remarkable for Quality and Variety. 

      The very names given to them are inspiring: “perfect,” “sure,” “right,”

      “pure,” “true,” “righteous,” “standing fast.” (In these verses are

      salvation, stability, education, happiness, illumination, purification,            

      endurance, truth and righteousness – CY – 2009)  These several terms       

      may be gathered up into three:  

     

Ø      true in statement

Ø      right in direction

Ø      everlasting in duration.

 

                        Even so. In the words of God we have ABSOLUTE TRUTH. In the                             

                        precepts of God we have perfect directories for life and duty. And we                              

                        know that, change what may, time is on our side, for “the Word of the                             

                        Lord endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160, I Peter 1:25).  Then it will be

                        a very serious mistake if in school education or family training we ever                             

                        allow the Bible to be crowded out or set on one side. For we must note:

 

ü      That the Words of God are Addressed to the Innermost Part of Our

                        Nature - “the soul.”  Although this word, in Hebrew, is very frequently                            

                        used in as free and popular a sense as it is with us, yet, on the other hand,                          

                        it often denotes the highest part of our nature - even that which pertains to                                    

                        spirit, conscience, and to the regulation of the moral life of man. Such is                            

                        the case here; as, indeed, the marvellous effects of the Divine Word (as                             

                        pointed out under the next heading) plainly indicate. So much is this the                            

                        case, that the Word is regarded even here as “dividing asunder of the                              

                        soul and spirit, of the joints and marrow,” and as a “discerner of the                            

                        thoughts and intents of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12)  The Old Testament                         

                        conceptions of man and of sin are very deep and very solemn.

 

ü      The Effect of God’s Words are as Marvelous as their Contents and

      Aim.  Six of these are specified in the psalm. And one other is illustrated by

      ts writer. The six effects referred to are:

 

Ø      Converting the soul. Restoring it, calling it back from its wanderings,

      and causing it to return to God and home.

 

Ø      Making wise the simple. Where the words of God are read,

      studied, and appropriated, by an honest and upright heart, they

      will lead in the way of understanding, and make wise unto

      salvation.

 

Ø      Rejoicing the heart.  By their disclosures of God’s glory, grace,

      wealth, and love. To those who drink in the Word, God is their

      “exceeding Joy.”  (Psalm 43:4)

 

Ø      Enlightening the eyes. This may mean either illumination or

                                    refreshment,  restoring life and fainting energies (1 Samuel 14:24,

                                    29). The former meaning, “illumination,” is triply true; for God’s

                                    commandments enlighten a man concerning God, duty, and                                               

                                    himself. There is nothing like the searching Word to reveal to us                                         

                                    what we are.

 

Ø      Warning is another effect. The exhortations to good and the

      dissuasion from evil are standing menaces of the peril of

      refusing the one and choosing the other.

 

  • A Contrast of These Revelations.   Both of God’s of God’s Volumes are to be

      studied.  Both demand labor and thought to enjoy their blessings.  La Place and

      Newton thus came to understand the science of the heavens; Milton and others,

      their poetry; and David and others, their religion. We benefit by the Word in a

      similar way. Study leading to practice and experience will open its stores of truth

      to us.

 

ü      The one universal, the other partial. Every one not born blind has seen

                        the heavens; there are millions who have never heard of Christ. God does

                        some things by taking them entirely into His own hands; but He takes us                           

                        as fellow-laborers in the work of making known His Word.  (Thus this

                        web site – CY – 2009)

 

ü      The one is full of great spiritual energies; the other is not.  Material

                        things can do only material work; nature cannot alter a depraved will

                        or heal a wounded conscience. Spiritual forces must rouse spiritual                                   

                        natures like ours. Christ is the Word of God, and gives the highest                                   

                        deliverance and salvation which souls need. Makes us wise with the                                   

                        noblest wisdom, gives light to the mind. The one rejoices the senses,

                        the other the heart.  The mourner can be made to sing, the captive to

                        leap for joy, the heartbroken to laugh with gladness, the penitent to

                        receive peace. Nature is impotent to do this!

 

10  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold”. (For

            the difference between “gold” (זהב) and “fine gold” (פז), see the ‘Homiletic

Commentary on Job,’ p. 458.) God’s Law is a far greater good to man, and       

            therefore far more to be desired, than any AMOUNT OF RICHES; Jesus

            said  “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his

            own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:

            36-37)  Bible truth is enriching to the soul in the highest degree; the

            metaphor is one which gathers force as it is brought out; - gold -fine

            gold - much fine gold; it is good, better, best, and therefore it is not only to

            be desired with a miser's avidity, but with more than that. As spiritual

            treasure is more noble than mere material wealth, so should it be desired

            and sought after with greater eagerness. Men speak of solid gold, but what

            is so solid as solid truth? For love of gold pleasure is forsworn, ease

            renounced, and life endangered; shall we not be ready to do as much for

            love of truth?  Much more must it be preferable to “honey and the honey

            -comb”- “Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  Trapp says,

            "Old people are all for profit, the young for pleasure; here's gold for the one,

            yea, the finest gold in great quantity; here's honey for the other, yea, live

            honey dropping from the comb”.  The pleasures arising from a right            

            understanding of the divine testimonies are of the most delightful order;

            earthly enjoyments are utterly contemptible, if compared with them. The

            sweetest joys, yea, the sweetest of the sweetest falls to his portion who has

            God's truth to be his heritage

 

 

The Word of God (vs. 7-10)

 

This passage may be regarded as teaching three things concerning the

Word of God, or the Bible.

 

  • WHAT IT IS. Six names are used, and six different statements are made

with regard to the Bible.

 

Ø      It is “the Law of the Lord,” and, as such, it is “perfect.”

Ø      It is “the testimony of the Lord,” and, as such, it is “sure.” In it God

speaks with solemn earnestness and insistence, and what He says may be

trusted.

Ø      It is “the statutes of the Lord;” and the statutes of the Lord are “right.”

The way of duty is clearly and unmistakably marked out.

Ø      It is the “commandment of the Lord.” It is not mere counsel or

instruction, but has all the authority and awfulness of “commandment.”

And as such it is “pure,” clear as crystal, illuminating as the light.

Ø      It is “the fear of the Lord.” This may stand for religion (Proverbs 15:33;

compare Deuteronomy 17:19), and as such it is “pure and undefiled.”

It is “our reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

Ø      Lastly, the Bible is spoken of as “the judgments of the Lord.” This refers

to the administration of the Law. God’s “judgments,” being the execution

of His will, must be “true.” Based upon the eternal principles of right,

THEY MUST THEMSELVES BE ETERNAL!

 

  • WHAT THE BIBLE DOES.

 

Ø      “It converts the soul” (Psalm 23:3; I Timothy 1:15).

Ø      It “makes wise the simple” (Psalm 119:130; Acts 16:31).

Ø      It “rejoices the heart” (Psalm 119:162; Acts 8:39).

Ø      It “enlightens the eyes” (Psalm 16:11; Ephesians 1:18-19).

Ø      It endureth for ever” (Psalm 100:5; I John 2:14-17).

 

What is here stated as doctrine is elsewhere illustrated as fact. It is, as

we believe the doctrine, that we shall become witnesses to the facts

Corinthians 6:11; I Peter 1:23-25).

 

  • WHAT THE BIBLE DESERVES. We have it in our hands. We have

heard its character, and the claims made in its behalf, and what is our

response? The language employed by the psalmist fitly expresses what our

feelings and conduct should be, how we should treat GOD’S MOST

HOLY WORD!

 

Ø      It deserves to be valued more than gold.

Ø      It deserves to be loved and delighted in as “sweeter than honey and

the honey-comb.”

Ø      It deserves to be studied and obeyed with increasing devotion; for

thereby our minds are enlightened, and our lives illumined, and

great is our reward in purity and peace and the love of God. And

if we have learned its preciousness ourselves, we shall surely labor

to make it known to others, that they also may be enriched by its

treasures and blessed with its joys.

 

11 “Moreover by them is thy servant warned  -  This verse is a

sort of connecting link between the second and the third parts of the psalm.

Through its subject-matter, which is still the Law of the Lord, it belongs to

the second part; but metrically, and by the introduction of the person of the

psalmist (“thy servant”), it belongs to the third. David feels that to him it is

            the crowning excellency of the Law, that it teaches, instructs, or “warns”

            him.   We are warned by the Word both of our duty, our danger, and our remedy.

            On the sea of life there would be many more wrecks, if it were not for the divine  

            storm signals, which give to the watchful a timely warning. The Bible should be

            our Mentor, our Monitor, our Memento Mori, our Reminder, and the

            Keeper of our Conscience. Alas, that so few men will take the warning so

            graciously given; none but servants of God will do so, for they alone

            regard their Master's will. Servants of God not only find His service

            delightful in itself, but they receive good recompense -  “And in keeping of

            them there is great reward”. Not only the reward promised in Exodus 15:26,

            or “the recompence of the reward” (Hebrews 2:2, 10:35, 11:26) laid up for

            men in heaven, but a present reward “in the act of keeping them”.  There is

            a wage, and a great one; though we earn no wages of debt, we win great wages

            of grace. Saints may be losers for a time, but they shall be glorious gainers in

            the long run, and even now a quiet conscience is in itself no slender reward for     

            obedience. He who wears the herb called heart's ease in his bosom is truly

            blessed. However, the main reward is yet to come, and the word here used

            hints as much, for it signifies the heel, as if the reward would come to us at      

            the end of life when the work was done; -- not while the labor was in hand,

            but when it was gone and we could see the heel of it. Oh the glory yet to be

            revealed! (Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the

            heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him”

            I Corinthians 2:9, Isaiah 64:4) It is enough to make a man faint for joy at the         

            prospect of it. Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is not worthy

            to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (II Corinthians

            4:17)  Then shall we know the value of the Scriptures when we swim in that sea    

            of unutterable delight to which their streams will bear us, if we commit ourselves  

            to them.  (May I recommend  {Ezekiel 47 – Spurgeon Sermon – Waters to         

            Swim In} – this web site – CY – 2009)

 

vs. 12-14 - No one can follow the commandments of God without ensuring a rich,            

            ample, constant recompense. (v. 11)   Another effect of the Word of God is

            illustrated by the writer of this very psalm, who shows us the influence it had

            upon him. (vs. 12-14) It awoke from him an earnest, prayerful response,

            awakened by the sight of himself which the commandment gave. The prayer is

            threefold - against involuntary, secret, and presumptuous sins. It is:

 

ü      “Cleanse me” – (v. 12)

 

ü      “Keep me back” – (v. 13) - a prayer that the restraining grace of God

      may keep in subjection a wayward and impulsive nature.

 

ü      “Accept me”  - (v.14.) It is an earnest prayer that at the moment the

                        Word reveals his guilt, the grace of God may cover it with the mantle

                        of forgiving love, and receive him in spite of all his guilt. And to this                                 

                        prayer there is appended an earnest plea. The praying one invokes two

                        of the names of God in which the Old Testament saints were wont most

                        to delight, “My Rock” and “my Redeemer.” The word translated                                                

                        “Redeemer” is specially noticeable. It is Goel  (For illustrations of the                              

                        use of the former word, see Deuteronomy 32:4, 31; 2 Samuel 22:32;

                                                Psalm 62:2,6-7; 73:26; Isaiah 26:4. Of the latter, see (in Hebrew)

                                                Numbers 35:12, 19, 21, 24, 25, 27; Job 19:25; Isaiah 41:14; 43:14;

                        60:16; 63:16.)  How unspeakable is the mercy that, though our guilt

                        might well make us dread the approach to a holy God, yet His grace

                        is such that we may flee to Him and find deliverance there! The

                        same Word which uncovers our sin also reveals His grace.

 

            A consideration of the Law cannot but raise the thought of transgression.

            Man “had not known sin but by the Law” (Romans 7:7) and he cannot  

            the Law without being reminded of possible disobedience to it. The

            psalmist’s thoughts are led in this direction, and he ends with an earnest

            prayer against “secret sins” (v.12), against “presumptuous sins” (v.13),

            and against sins of word and thought (v.14), addressed to God his

            Strength [or, ‘his Rock’] and his Redeemer.”

 

vs. 12 - “Who can understand his errors? A question which is its own

answer. It rather requires a note of exclamation than of interrogation. By

the law is the knowledge of sin, and in the presence of divine truth, the

psalmist marvels at the number and heinousness of his sins. He best knows

himself who best knows the Word, but even such an one will be in a maze

of wonder as to what he does not know, rather than on the mount of

congratulation as to what he does know. We have heard of a comedy of

errors, but to a good man this is more like a tragedy. Many books have a

few lines of errata at the end, but our errata might well be as large as the

volume if we could but have sense enough to see them. Augustine wrote in

his older days a series of Retractations; ours might make a library if we had

enough grace to be convinced of our mistakes and to confess them - Cleanse thou

me from secret faults.  13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins;

This earnest and humble prayer teaches us that saints may fall into the worst of sins

unless restrained by grace, and that therefore they must watch and pray lest they enter

into temptation. There is a natural proneness to sin in the best of men, and they must

be held back as a horse is held back by the bit or they will run into it. Presumptuous

sins are peculiarly dangerous. All sins are great sins, but yet some sins are

greater than others. Every sin has in it the very venom of rebellion, and is

full of the essential marrow of traitorous rejection of God; but there be

some sins which have in them a greater development of the essential

mischief of rebellion, and which wear upon their faces more of the brazen

pride which defies the Most High. It is wrong to suppose that because all

sins will condemn us, that therefore one sin is not greater than another. The

fact is, that while all transgression is a greatly grievous and sinful thing, yet

there are some transgressions which have a deeper shade of blackness, and

a more double scarlet dyed hue of criminality than others. The

presumptuous sins of our text are the chief and worst of all sins; they rank

head and foremost in the list of iniquities. It is remarkable that though an

atonement was provided under the Jewish law for every kind of sin, there

was this one exception: "But the soul that sinneth presumptuously shall

have no atonement; it shall be cut off from the midst of the people." And

now under the Christian dispensation, although in the sacrifice of our

blessed Lord there is a great and precious atonement for presumptuous

sins, whereby sinners who have erred in this manner are made clean, yet

without doubt, presumptuous sinners, dying without pardon, must expect

to receive a double portion of the wrath of God, and a more terrible

portion of eternal punishment in the pit that is digged for the wicked. For

this reason is David so anxious that he may never come under the reigning

power of these giant evils.  let them not have dominion

over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great

transgression.”  He shudders at the thought of the unpardonable

sin. Secret sin is a stepping stone to presumptuous sin, and that is the vestibule of

"the sin which is unto death." (I John 5:16)  He who is not wilful in his sin,

will be in a fair way to be innocent so far as poor sinful man can be; but he who

tempts the devil to tempt him is in a path which will lead him from bad to worse,

and from the worse to the worst.We have studied God in nature (vs. 1-6) and God in

Scripture (vs. 7-11); now God in the heart and conscience to which He manifests

Himself!  The royal singer sees in all this a perpetual revelation of the glory of

God, His wisdom, power, goodness, and unchanging law!  Whether man attend

to it or not,  the REVELATION IS THERE!  Conscience opens the windows of the

psalmist’s own inmost soul, and lets the light of this glorious and perfect Law shine in.

“In keeping… is great reward” (v. 11). Yes. But is that reward mine? Have I kept

this glorious and perfect Law? If I have not wilfully broken and presumptuously

despised it, yet has not my best obedience come immeasurably short? “Who can

understand his errors?” And then the lofty and almost jubilant tone of the psalm

is subdued into lowliness, and it closes with prayer, “Cleanse thou me and keep…

me” from:

 

  • Secret Faults, from which the psalmist prays to be cleansed - Our sins and

      mistakes are greater in number than we can understand or reckon. Our moral

      infirmity is greater than we can estimate.  There are two sorts of sin, widely

      different, which may be called “secret sins”:

 

ü      Sins which the offender practices secretly, and carefully keeps secret;

                        Of all the sights that meet the eye, and well-nigh break the heart of

                        the Christian pastor, incomparably the saddest is when one who has

                        lived in honor and esteem among his fellow-Christians, perhaps far on

                        in middle life, or even in old age - active and prominent as a Christian                                

                        worker; alas! in some cases even in the Christian ministry — is

                        suddenly discovered to have been secretly leading a dishonest, impure,

                        or intemperate life (like a tree, hollow at the heart, suddenly uprooted).                              

                        Such cases not merely grieve; they astound. They give terrible point

                        and emphasis to the question, “Who can understand errors?” (for, you                           

                        observe, the word “his” is inserted). Who can unravel the deceitfulness of                         

                        sin, or comprehend its folly, or picture the inward anguish of a life of                                 

                        “secret sin,” hidden under a surface of apparent godliness and Christian                           

                        activity?  (David’s sin with Bathsheba was of this sort and apparently

                        he hid it for a time, had given the enemies of God reason to blaspheme but                        

                        God mercifully brought it home to him and David truly repented but

                        was never again the man he was prior to this great iniquity. (I Samuel                                 

                        chapters 10-11, ch.12:14 – I recommend II Samuel 11 – Pulpit                                          

                        Commentary Homiletics on David’s Sin – this web site – CY-2009). 

 

ü      “Cleanse thou me from the sins that I know not of,” those arising from self-

      deception and self-ignorance.  Others see in us what we cannot see

      in ourselves. The proud and covetous and unjust do not think themselves   

      so. Cleanse us from the pretence to virtues which we have not.  Also, sins  

      into which we fall unawares, and which are a secret even from ourselves? 

      Evidently, however, it is this kind of sins of which the text speaks

      sins which God sees in us, though we see them not in ourselves. This is       clear,

      firstly, because of the tone of intense sincerity pervading this psalm;          

      secondly, because the word here rendered “cleanse” means “to absolve,”

      or “set free from guilt.” It is the same rendered “innocent” in v. 13. We  

      must include, however, the idea of actual inward cleansing, by the Holy     Spirit,

      of the thoughts, desires, and affections, from which such sins spring; because,

      wherever God bestows pardon, He gives grace to “follow after holiness.”

      (Hebrews 12:14) That such sins are sins, and             need God’s forgiveness, is

      plain from the fact that we blame ourselves on          discovering them. “I was

      wrong; I did not see it: I meant to do right, but I see I was very wrong.” How

      often we bitterly blame ourselves for what at the moment we never thought

      wrong; perhaps even prided ourselves upon! If we ourselves often make this

      discovery, what a multitude of sins hidden from our forgetful memory and

      imperfectly enlightened conscience, must lie naked and open to Him who sets

      our secret sins in the light of His countenance” (Hebrews 4:13)! How

      need to pray, “Cleanse thou me”!

 

  • Presumptuous Sins.  Here is, secondly, a class of sins regarding which the psalmist

      prays, not to be pardoned for having committed, but to be “kept back”

            - withheld, restrained altogether from committing them: “PRESUMPTUOUS       

            SINS.”   He does not ask for the pardon of such sins, but to be restrained from     

            them. “If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the        

            truth there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins”.  (Hebrews 10:26)  There        

            was no sacrifice in the Jewish Law for such sins.  The best commentary here,         

            because the one we may suppose the psalmist to have had in mind, is in the Law   

            of Moses (Numbers 15., especially vs. 27-31). These are the sins of which St.        

            ohn says that the true child of God does not commit sin (1 John 3:9). He has         

            fully taught that real Christians do commit sin, and need forgiveness (1 John 1:

            9-10; 2:1). But not willful sin – sin “with a high hand” (1 John 5:16).  A child of   

            God knowingly and perversely disobeying God, despising God’s Law, defying    

            Divine justice, practically denying the Lord that bought him, and doing despite to            

            the Spirit of grace, (Hebrews 10:28-29) is an impossible supposition - a practical    

            contradiction. Yet, how significant is it, that David prays to be “kept back” from            

            even such sins - restrained by a power not his own! He even sees peril of sinking   

            into abject bondage: “Let them not have dominion over me!” These are the

            sins of which our Lord speaks “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of        

            sin” (John 8:34). (The chains of sin are usually to light to be felt until they are    

            too heavy to be broken) The more willingly and wilfully a man sins, the

            more does he forge fetters for himself, and become “tied and bound.” With

            profound humility and knowledge of his own heart, the psalmist feels that

            he has in himself no security. “Is thy servant a dog?” said Hazael (II

            Kings 8:13); but he did it – “he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool”   

            (Proverbs 28:26)  See also 1 Corinthians 10:12; Ps 119:117.

 

  • Great Transgression.  What the psalmist humbly prays, he confidently hopes.

      That he may “absolved,” “held guiltless,” or (as v.12) “cleansed.” This    

      cleansing, as it regards sins actually committed, is what St. John calls being           

      cleansed by “the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:7); St. Paul (Romans 5:9),       

      “being now justified by His blood;” St. Peter (1 Peter 1:2), “sprinkling of

      the blood of Jesus Christ. To forgiveness, the idea of practical holiness,

      actual purity, is added by the word “upright;” literally (as Revised Version),        

      “perfect;” namely, with that perfection of which Scripture so often speaks -         

      integrity; whole-hearted sincerity. What may we understand by “great

      transgression,” from which the psalmist hopes to be clear? It seems to      

      correspond to the “sin unto death” of which St. John speaks (1 John 5:16, 17). `  

      Hence was drawn the famous attempt to classify sins:

 

ü      “mortal,” or “deadly;”

ü      “venial,” capable of forgiveness.

 

            The fatal mistake is in trying to judge of sins apart from the person who

            sins. What is a sin of ignorance in one may be a presumptuous sin in

            another. The sin of which one repents and finds forgiveness may in another

            be a sin against so much light and grace that it is impossible to renew to

            repentance” (Hebrews 6:4, 6) — “a sin unto death.” Let us not pry into

            that dark abyss; but seek to keep far from its fatal brink. Only remember

            and be sure of this — sorrow for sin and desire for pardon and purity are a

            sure proof that no unpardonable sin has been committed. God pardoneth

            and absolveth all them that truly repent and unfeignedly believe His holy

            gospel” -  the message of His grace and love in Christ Jesus. To every one,

            whatsoever his sins may be — who can truly make this prayer his own,

            the Savior answers as of old, “I will: be thou clean.” (Matthew 8:3)

            Also, the Lord is “abundant in goodness and truth” - (Exodus 34:6),

            “there is forgiveness with thee” and “with Him is “plenteous

            redemption” (Psalm 130:4,7)

 

14 Let the words of my mouth” - A sweet prayer, and so spiritual that it is almost

as commonly used in Christian worship as the apostolic benediction – and the

meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight.” Nor let my doings only be

righteous; let the door of my lips be kept, that I utter no evil word, and the recesses

of my heart be purged, that I think no evil thought. O Lord, my strength;  literally,

my Rock (צוּדִי), as in Psalm 18:1. And my Redeemer (compare Psalm 78:35; and

see Genesis 48:16; Exodus 15:13; Leviticus 25:48; Ruth 4:4; Job 19:25; Isaiah 63:9).

As applied to God, the word “Redeemer” (גואֵל) always means a “Deliverer” from

sin, or death, or danger.  Words of the mouth are mockery if the heart does not

meditate; the shell is nothing without the kernel; but both together are useless

unless accepted; and even if accepted by man, it is all vanity if not acceptable

in the sight of God. We must in prayer view Jehovah as our strength enabling,

and our Redeemer saving, or we shall not pray aright, and it is well to feel our

personal interest so as to use the word my, or our prayers will be hindered.

Our near Kinsman's name, our Goel or Redeemer, makes a blessed ending

to the Psalm; it began with the heavens, but it ends with Him whose glory

fills heaven and earth. Blessed Kinsman, give us now to meditate

acceptably upon thy most sweet love and tenderness.

 

 

 

                        ADDITIONAL NOTES AND FOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

 

The Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 45:18-19) refers both to the work of God’s hands in the

world which He has created, and to the words of His lips in the promises He has made;

and in both cases it is said, “not in vain” - “Not in vain” is the earth formed; “not in

vain”is the promise uttered. In both there is a Divine aim and purpose.  The Psalmist

says “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me” (Psalm 119:73)  Hilary and

Ambrose think that by the plural "hands" is intimated that there is a more exact and

perfect workmanship in man, and as if it were with greater labor and skill he had been

formed by God, because after the image and likeness to God: and that it is not written

that any other thing but man was made by God with both hands, for he saith in Isaiah,

"Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth": Isaiah 48:13. — John

Lorinus, 1569-1634. This, however, is an error, as Augustine notes; for it is written,

"The heavens are the work of thine hands."  (Psalm 102:25) — C.H.S.

 

 

 

The Saint’s Prayer against Sin (vs. 12-13)

 

“Cleanse thou me.” Natural theology, revelation, spiritual experience, —

these are the three successive spheres of thought through which this

wondrously beautiful psalm leads us.

 

  • God in nature;
  • God in Scripture;
  • God in the heart and conscience to which He manifests Himself.

 

And in this last sphere, reading the psalm with Christian eyes, we can see what the

inspired psalmist “desired to see, but saw not” — God in Christ. First (as in Psalm

8.), David lifts up his eyes to the sky; and as he beholds the starry host in

its silent unswerving march, the moon walking in brightness, marking, as

she waxes and wanes, the lapse of days and months; the sun coming forth

in morning splendor, accomplishing his appointed journey, and leading the

seasons in his train, — the royal singer sees in all this a perpetual revelation

of the glory of God, his wisdom, power, goodness, and unchanging law.

Whether men attend to it or not, THE REVELATION IS THERE!

 

“What though no real voice or sound,” etc.

 

Then the psalmist’s mind rises to contemplate a higher region, in which a

nobler law than the laws of nature reveals God’s glorythe region of

thought, duty, spiritual life. Compared with this, all outward beauty and

order are but a passing shadowy show. “The Law of the Lord is perfect,” etc.

(v. 7). Lastly, conscience opens the windows of the psalmist’s own inmost

soul, and lets the light of this glorious and perfect Law shine in. “In

keeping of them is great reward” (v. 11). Yes. But is that reward mine? Have I

kept this glorious and perfect Law? If I have not willfully broken and

presumptuously despised it, yet has not my best obedience come

immeasurably short? “Who can understand his errors?” And then the lofty

and almost jubilant tone of the psalm is subdued into lowliness, and it

closes with prayer, “Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” In these closing

verses there is progress and climax.

 

(1) Secret faults, from which the psalmist prays to be cleansed;

(2) presumptuous sins, from which he prays to be kept; and

(3) great transgression, of which he trusts God will hold him

      guiltless.

 

  • SECRET SINS. Perhaps Paul had this passage in his mind (Romans 2:12, 16). 

There are two sorts of sin, widely different, which may be called “secret sins.”

 

ü      Sins which the offender practices secretly, and carefully keeps

secret;

ü      sins into which we fall unawares, and which are a secret even

from ourselves.

 

Of both kinds those solemn words are true (Psalm 90:8). Not seldom,

the searching light of the great day is anticipated, and a hidden course of

sin brought to light, to the confusion and ruin of the sinner. Of all the sad

sights that meet the eye, and well-nigh break the heart of the Christian

pastor, incomparably the saddest is when one who has lived in honor and

esteem among his fellow-Christians, perhaps far on in middle life, or even

in old age — active and prominent as a Christian worker; alas! in some

cases even in the Christian ministry — is suddenly discovered to have been

secretly leading a dishonest, impure, or intemperate life (like a tree, hollow

at the heart, suddenly uprooted). Such cases not merely grieve; they

astound. They give terrible point and emphasis to the question, “Who can

understand errors?” (for, you observe, the word “his” is inserted). Who can

unravel the deceitfulness of sin, or comprehend its folly, or picture the

inward anguish of a life of “secret sin,” hidden under a surface of apparent

godliness and Christian activity? Evidently, however, it is the other kind of

sins of which the text speaks — sins which God sees in us, though we see

them not in ourselves. This is clear, firstly, because of the tone of intense

sincerity pervading this psalm; secondly, because the word here rendered

“cleanse” means “to absolve,” or “set free from guilt.” It is the same

rendered “innocent” in v. 13 (Revised Version, “clear”). We must

include, however, the idea of actual inward cleansing, by the Holy Spirit, of

the thoughts, desires, and affections, from which such sins spring; because,

wherever God bestows pardon, HE GIVES GRACE to “follow after holiness.”

That such sins are sins, and need God’s forgiveness, is plain from the fact

that we blame ourselves on discovering them. “I was wrong; I did not see

it: I meant to do right, but I see I was very wrong.” We failed to see what a

larger exercise of charity, or humility, or sympathy, or care and attention,

would have enabled us to see. We judged too harshly, hastily, ignorantly.

We were absorbed in some agreeable duty, and neglected a more urgent

but uninteresting one. How often we bitterly blame ourselves for what at

the moment we never thought wrong; perhaps even prided ourselves upon!

If we ourselves often make this discovery, what a multitude of sins hidden

from our forgetful memory and imperfectly enlightened conscience, must

lie naked and open to him who sets “our secret sins in the light of his

countenance” (Hebrews 4:13; Psalm 90:8)! What need to pray, “Cleanse

thou me!”

 

  • Here is, secondly, a class of sins regarding which the psalmist prays,

not to be pardoned for having committed, but to be “kept back”

withheld, restrained altogether from committing them:

“PRESUMPTUOUS SINS.” The best commentary here, because the one

we may suppose the psalmist to have had in mind, is in the Law of Moses

(Numbers 15., especially vs. 27-31). These are the sins of which John

says that the true child of God does not commit sin (I John 3:9). He

has fully taught that real Christians do commit sin, and need forgiveness

(ibid. ch. 1:9-10; 2:1). But not willful sin — sin “with a high hand”

(ibid. ch. 5:18). A child of God knowingly and perversely disobeying God,

despising God’s Law, defying Divine justice, practically denying the Lord

that bought him, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace, is an impossible

supposition — a practical contradiction. Yet, how significant is it, that

David prays to be “kept back” from even such sins — restrained by a

power not his own! He even sees peril of sinking into abject bondage: “Let

them not have dominion over me!” These are the sins of which our Lord

speaks (John 8:34). The more willingly and willfully a man sins, the

more does he forge fetters for himself, and become “tied and bound.” With

profound humility and knowledge of his own heart, the psalmist feels that

he has in himself no security. “Is thy servant a dog?” said Hazael (II Kings

8:13); but he did it (Proverbs 28:26; I Corinthians 10:12; Psalm 119:117).

 

  • GREAT TRANSGRESSION. What the psalmist humbly prays, he

confidently hopes. That he may “absolved,” “held guiltless,” or (as v. 12)

“cleansed.” This cleansing, as it regards sins actually committed, is what

John calls being cleansed by “the blood of Jesus Christ” (I John 1:7);

Paul (Romans 5:9), “being “justified by his blood;” Peter

(I Peter 1:2), “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” To forgiveness,

the idea of practical holiness, actual purity, is added by the word “upright;”

literally (as Revised Version), “perfect;” namely, with that perfection of

which Scripture so often speaks — integrity; whole-hearted sincerity. What

may we understand by “great transgression,” from which the psalmist

hopes to be clear? It seems to correspond to the “sin unto death” of which

John speaks (I John 5:16-17). Hence was drawn the famous attempt to

classify sins:

 

Ø      “mortal,” or “deadly;”

Ø      “venial,” capable of forgiveness.

 

The fatal mistake is in trying to judge of sins apart from the person who

sins. What is a sin of ignorance in one may be a presumptuous sin in

another. The sin of which one repents and finds forgiveness may in another

be a sin against so much light and grace that it is impossible to renew to

repentance (Hebrews 6:4, 6) — “a sin unto death.” Let us not pry into

that dark abyss; but seek to keep far from its fatal brink. Only remember

and be sure of this — sorrow for sin and desire for pardon and purity are a

sure proof that no unpardonable sin has been committed. God “pardoneth

and absolveth all them that truly repent and unfeignedly believe His holy

gospel” — the message of His grace and love in Christ Jesus. To every one

— whatsoever his sins may be — who can truly make this prayer his own,

the Saviour answers as of old, “I will: be thou clean.”  (Mark 1:41)

 

 

 

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