Psalm 19 reflection
Will Gibbons, Town Centre Hub Leader in Wigan, responds to Psalm 19
I love music, songs, and singing, especially with other people; in great crowds at football matches or with my children in the car or even by myself as I walk down the street. I rarely walk anywhere without musical accompaniment and embarrassingly often forget that passers can’t hear the melody I’m attempting to harmonise with! I love the Psalms because they are songs. They are the songs that Jesus would have sung. They are the church’s oldest hymn book, years before ‘Hymns Ancient and Modern’!
Psalm 19 is described as ‘A Psalm of David’. Unlike other psalms ascribed to David there are no further clues of events in his life that inspired these incredible words to be written. I like to imagine the young shepherd boy lying on his back, resting in the fields, looking up at the glory of the sunlit sky above.
As wide as the sky above is the epic span of this psalm! We begin with the exuberant cry of God’s wordless revelation in the creation God spoke into being. Then we transition to the quiet clarity of God’s written word. Finally we eavesdrop on the intimate words of the worshipper’s response, longing for integrity of heart.
Creation speaks of God’s glory, the skies tell of God’s handiwork. The Apostle Paul quoted this Psalm in Romans 10:18, and it was surely the inspiration for his opening argument that God’s eternal power and divine nature “have been understood and seen through the things he has made”. The array of colours and clouds that can be found in the day and the vast starlit skies of night communicate without words. The poetry of this psalm eloquently speaks of this paradox of the wordless speech of God’s creation.
Suddenly introduced into scene comes the sun, like a bridegroom in his finery setting out from his home ready to meet his bride. It is little wonder that many have understood this to represent Christ, the Champion of heaven, radiating light and grace in the incarnation, running the perfect course, life in all its fullness.
From the burning heat of the sun, our psalmist moves to the cool reviving clarity of the written word. The original Hebrew text highlights the shift from God’s general revelation in creation to the special revelation of the Law by moving from ‘El’, translated as “God”, to the revealed name of YHWH, occurring seven times in our modern English translations as the capitalised LORD.
The different nouns used to describe the LORD’s special revelation carefully emphasise individual aspects yet are all closely related. The adjectives used to describe speak of perfection, certainty, purity, and truth. The general knowledge of God made known in the natural world is refined in the Law, more precious than gold and sweeter than honey.
The declaration that they make wise the simple is a great encouragement that through the Scriptures God imparts sound judgement even to the one prone to making mistakes. The psalm then shifts to consider the human heart and the desire for integrity even within the hidden depths. Jeremiah writes that the heart “devious above all else”.
Finally the psalm concludes with a prayer, a favourite of many preachers, and one that is appropriate for all believers longing to respond faithfully to the great commission to make disciples. The words of our mouths are to speak for and of Christ, to reveal Christ the Redeemer to others, the Rock in whom alone we can trust. The meditations of our hearts is not emptying our minds but being filled with a clearer understanding of God’s revealed glory.
Psalm 8 reflection
Bec Hill, St Mellitus ordinand based at St Bartholomew’s Roby, responds to Psalm 8ResourceTotal current bookmarks 4
Psalms Summer Reading Challenge
Join Archdeacon Simon in this year’s Summer Challenge reading the book of Psalms together. Sign up to this course and you will receive weekly emails encouraging you in your reading. The Psalms are the hymnbook and the prayerbook of the Temple, and of the Church. In these 150 songs the Psalmist explores the whole range of human experience, with all its highs and lows, of human life lived in the presence of God, and sometimes the experience of the apparent absence of God too. Find out more about the challenge and how you can get involved.Course 19 PartsTotal current bookmarks 12