Lectionary Year A
October 6, 2002
Psalm 19

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) The theological pivotal point in Psalm 19 is God, who creates/orders the natural universe/heavens/firmament and gives the Law, testimony, commandments, ordinances and precepts. These two activities (creating and giving) and their objects are described as glorious and beneficial beyond language short of poetry supreme. The several valuable similes connected with these works of the Almighty are also major concerns in this Psalm. These designations leave as minor matters in these verses to include the speech, the words, the reward predicted for those obeying the Law/precepts and the prayer at the end beginning in verse13b and going through the final plea, verse 15.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 1 To the director, a Psalm to the memory of David. 2 The heavens are declaring the glory/honor of God. And the firmament tells of the deeds of His hands. 3 Day unto day will pour forth His word/speech. And night unto night will show forth divine wisdom/understanding/discernment/knowledge. 4 No saying/speech/promise/command nor words ever are to be heard as any sound. 5 In all the earth/land is going/coming out cords and in/to/according to the end/extremity its words/speech/utterance to the sun's setting/putting a tent/dwelling place of habitation because of them. 6 And it is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber and it will produce great rejoicing like a strong man running a race. 7 From out of the heavens his place of coming out and his coming around and unto the height and nothing is being hidden from the sun even the heat of the sun. 8 The Law of Yahweh completely causes the soul to be revived/refreshed. The testimony of Yahweh is confirmed/made sure and it can even makes wise the simple minded. 9 Yahweh's precepts are straight/upright/correct causing the heart to rejoice. Yahweh's Commandments are pure/clear/sincere/clean, giving light to the eyes. 10 The Word of Yahweh is clean/pure standing into eternity even forever. Yahweh's ordinances are true just/righteous all together. 11 They are to be desirable more than pure/refined gold, even more so than much sweetness of the honey of the honeycomb. 12 Moreover your servant is being warned/admonished by those Laws. In the keeping of them is reward abundant. 13 Human errors, who will discern them accurately? They seem to be hidden. Therefore, be ye purged of all sinfulness. 14 Also, watch out for any arrogant/insolent/presumptuous endeavors. Keep in check/with and keep back your servant from whatever threatens to rule/have dominion over them, including yourself. Then I shall be totally/completely/wholly finished and purged from any and all transgressions. 15 Shall be unto You, O God, a pleasure/delight the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to You, Yahweh, my rock and my redeemer.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) The Scottish Psalter of 1635 includes these lines in a hymn from Psalm 19:1-6, entitled, "The Heavens Above Declare God's Praise," singing
"The work God's praise, Day after day the tale is told, And night by night displayed. There is no utterance of speech, No voice has ever heard, Yet to all nations comes the sound, To every place their word. Forth like the bride-groom comes the sun From its appointed place, And like a he-ro runs the course, Rejoicing in the race. It runs from east to farthest west To make its course complete, And nothing in the world be-neath Escapes its scorching heat."

And, a Handel, 1748 hymn from Psalm 19:7-14, entitled, "God's Law Is Perfect and Gives Life", sings
"God's Law is perfect and gives life, Re-vives the weary soul; God's tes-ti-mon-ies all are sure, Wisdom for all to hold. The statutes of the Lord are just And give the heart de-light; God's precepts are direct and pure And give the eye clear sight. The fear of God is always clean, Enduring as the sun; The judgments of the Lord are true And righteous every one. And even more to be desired Than gold, the fin-est gold, And sweet-er than the ho-ney-comb, The Words God spoke of old. Your ser-vant finds en-light-en-ment By means of them, O Lord; And in keep-ing of Your Law, There is great reward. But who can tell how of-ten they Of-fend un-know-ing-ly? From all my secret faults, O Lord, I ask You to cleanse me. Lord, keep me from pre-sumptuous sins; Let them not rule my soul; Then I shall not com-mit great wrongs, I shall be sound and whole. Let all my words and all my thoughts, My Lord, Re-deem-er, Might, Find fa-vor now, and always win Ac-cept-ance in Your sight."

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