Psalm 19, 7 March 2021

‘The statutes of God are just and rejoice the heart’ (6)

Psalm 19 declares the glory of the divine as seen in the creation. The first section paints a picture of the worlds vibrantly interacting, speaking powerfully and prophetically without words, in response to the divine creative spirit. David thus declares the presence and influence of the creator

The very first verse challenges our spiritual framework:

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.”

The question of whether the wonders of creation, including the complex magic of humanity as well as of the universe, do or do not prove the existence of an omnipotent Creator and intelligent design will always be debated.

The psalmist is definitely in the ‘do’ team. That view appears strongly in many other psalms (8, 24 and 104 just for starters). Professor Tom Wright, referring to the age of materialism and science says:

Our modern Western world-views have made it seriously difficult to hear Psalm 19.1-2 as anything but a pretty fantasy.

Wright, NT, Finding God in the Psalms, page 119
The ‘law’, in a 15th century psalter, Glossa ordinaria psalterii, with commentary in Latin by Pierre Lombard, c.1250. Bibliothèque Humaniste MS 96, Sélestat, France.

The next section (verses 7 to 10) succinctly states the clarity, purity and justice of the divine design, the ‘law and statutes of God’. These principles ‘renew life … give wisdom’ (7):

10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
    and drippings of the honeycomb.

Finally, the song smoothly progresses to the importance of divine guidance to humankind — the ‘law’, to those who are willing to be so influenced — and our own ability to turn a blind eye to our faults. It concludes with that prayer heard so often:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (14)

🎵

That oft-repeated prayer in verse 14 has resulted in an oft-repeated rendition in the Woden Valley of a Bob Marley reggae classic as an antiphonal refrain to the verses of Psalm 19. The beat of his song is taken from Psalm 137:

By the rivers of Babylon—
    there we sat down and there we wept
    when we remembered Zion.

That does not stop us using his chorus for Psalm 19, as it is a direct quote. At the other end of the scale, here are those dramatic imitative voice entries, like echoes from the ends of the earth and the deep in the psalm, in a chorus from The Messiah by G F Händel, Their sound is gone out, quoting verse 4 of the psalm:

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