Psalm 19

The Struggle Between Knowing and Doing — Pete Bauer

This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on November 11th, 2013.

God’s Revelation is Clear and Compelling.

God Reveals Himself Constantly to the Spiritually Discerning: The heavens are recounting the glory of God and the skies speak of the works of his hands.  Day to day he is speaking and night to night he is displaying knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out through all the earth…

What David is saying here – what seems so obvious to him – requires spiritual discernment.  Spiritual discernment is the ability – the willingness – to see the world and life and situations – and the creation – from a believing point of view.  David sees the skies, the stars, the sun, the clouds – and he believes – not just that God created these things, but that they display the design and beauty and glory and character of God.

God’s Revelation is Glorious and Compelling:  In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

Not only is the creation a constant revelation of God’s character – it is a glorious revelation.  David is very impressed with the sun.  In an arid country the sun is powerful and can be overwhelming.  David is impressed with its power – like a champion who runs a race knowing he will win it – like a bridegroom gloriously dressed.David is impressed with the glory of the sun so much that he writes a worship song telling about it – recognizing it as a display of God’s power and glory.  This is, again, spiritual discernment.  Because David is looking for God’s glory in creation – he sees, not just a hot disc that dries out his skin – but this amazing display of God’s power and beauty.

God’s Revelation/ Word is Full of Wisdom to Lead Us to Holy Living:  Vs.7-11 are a hymn in praise of God’s word.  David expounds on all of the different ways in which the word of God is powerful to bless us and to lead us to godly living…

  •  to refresh our souls – 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
  •  to make foolish people wise – The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
  •  to lead us to joy – 8  The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
  •  to give us insight – The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
  •  and what the word teaches holds true over time – 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
  •  the teachings of the word lead us to noble, true living – The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.
  •  The word is valuable and creates a sweetness in our souls that is life creating.
  •  The word warns us of evil and consequences – and keeping it has enormous consequence in our lives.

But We Have a Problem.

We Fall Short of the Glory and Instruction of God: 12 who can discern their own errors?  Forgive my hidden faults.  13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;  may they not rule over me.  Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.    There is a sharp contrast in this Psalm beginning with verse 12.  It is as though David were saying – Your revelation is so clear and so glorious, but I seem to be blind to my hidden sins.  David expresses exasperation at the contrast between what seems so clear and his own blindness.

In the same way, there is a contrast between God’s word in which David delights, about which he has written this hymn of praise, extolling the virtues of the word and every spiritual benefit that the word provides  –  and his own arrogant, willful sin.  David expresses what looks like a feeling of helplessness – let them not have dominion over me.

Where Psalm 19 Ends:  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock, my redeeming one.  Psalm 19 ends with an expression of hope – and, less we miss it in the poetic language, some uncertainty.  David is expressing the hope that this state of things is acceptable – that they may meet with the approval of God.   David’s hope is in the fact that God is his help (rock) and his redeemer.   David hopes that God will declare him innocent despite his hidden faults – which are not just less noticeable sins, but which are the sinful motives of the heart of which we are unaware – sins of ignorance – both of those things which we ought to have done and which we ought not to have done – which have deeply affected our lives and the lives of those around us.  David recognizes that he is helpless against these things of which he is unaware – and half-aware.  This is not an easy request – it is David’s longing and hope that, because God has helped him and because God has redeemed his life – that he may be forgiven his hidden faults.

But also, the Psalm ends with this request that David will not be overcome by willful sin.  It is not just the sin that David is unaware of – but it is willful, hard hearted, iniquity (going one’s own way).  Please notice, David does not say – “Don’t let me ever do anything willful” – but rather “Don’t let my willful sinful heart take over”.   We know of willful, destructive sin in David’s life.  His hope is that God will both deliver him and forgive him.


God’s Revelation Continues Until it is Complete in Jesus .

Psalm 19 – Part B:  It almost seems as though the Apostle Paul read this Psalm and picked up the thread of it in his letter to the Romans.  Paul’s description of this same struggle, in regard to his own life, sounds exactly like David’s…  We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing…  So I find this law at work; when I want to do good, evil is right there with me,  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against  the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin… (Rom.7:14-23)

If anything, Paul seems even more desperate than David.  The Law of the Lord…, says David, …is perfect, refreshing the soul.   And Paul says the same thing; “… in my inner being I delight in God’s law.   But says Paul, I cannot carry it out.  What does Paul mean?  He is describing this same battle of willful sin and hidden, corrupting motives that David describes.  And where David expresses hope and uncertainty, Paul seems to express despair – What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from the body of this death? (Rom.7:24).

The Resolution – Jesus Christ, Our Rock and Our Redeemer:  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”     The hope that David expresses in Psalm 19 – that he hopes will be acceptable in God’s sight (that God his rock and redeemer will forgive him), is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.   Paul spells this out for us.  The Gospel, says Paul, is not that the Law of the Lord is perfect and if we know enough and try hard enough, we will be able to be the good people we are supposed to be.   God pours out revelation of himself – instruction – help – encouragement – refreshment –  We take these things in and yet still continue to sin, ignorantly, at times willfully.  Sin, says Paul, is in our bodies from our core – down to our fingers and toes.  Our bodies – as Paul notes – are bodies of death.

The Gospel is that Jesus came and literally gave his body up to the punishment that we, in our sinful bodies deserved – so that the forgiveness and deliverance that David hoped for is ours with certainty as we trust in Jesus Christ.

What does that mean?  It means that we can delight in the creation – the things God has revealed – the word of God – even though we continue to struggle with sin – without condemnation.  Jesus is the rock we stand on when our sins accuse us.  Jesus is the one who is redeeming our souls and who is sanctifying (growing holiness in) our lives.

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