Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Joining the Chorus of the Heavens: Learning to Pray Psalm 19 (part 3)

Today we complete our reading of Psalm 19 by reflecting on verses 11–14. Check out the posts on verses 1–6 and verses 7–10.

11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But 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.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19 reaches its climax in vv 11–14. Vv. 1–6 observed that the creation witnesses to the glory and awesomeness of God. But as we noted, the testimony of creation does not offer specifics regarding God’s character, mission, or will. Thus, there is no human response to the witness of creation except for the awe that comes from recognizing a creator.

Verses 7–10 record the clear and unambiguous witness of God’s Word through his Law. God’s Law or Torah is transformative and effective in revealing God’s truth and will for humanity. It is priceless. It is a complete revelation—just as there were six days of God’s creative activity (Gen 1:1–31), there are six different synonyms for the Torah of the LORD  six recurrences of the name the LORD. We also saw how in the New Testament Jesus serves as the perfectly faithful human and the living Word of God for the world. Jesus reveals God through his life, death, and resurrection.

In verses 11–14, humanity responds and joins with creation in declaring the good news about God. The revelation of the law or Torah of the LORD creates the response in humanity. In verse 11, the psalmist recognizes the power of God’s word in revealing God’s way through the world. They serve both to warn God’s people and to point to the way of greatest blessing. This truth overwhelms the psalmist and causes him to recognize his lack of faithfulness and the presence of both intentional and unintentional errors in his life. In other words, the law of the LORD speaks directly to us of both our potential as God’s people and our pitfalls in our struggles to love God and neighbor. What are we do in light of recognition of our own sins and lack before the LORD? This psalm has good news. We turn to God and pray for cleansing (vv. 12b–13).

God hears our prayers. Psalm 19 assumes transformation and ends powerfully. Verse 14 testifies of the LORD’s work in the life of the psalmist. He moves from awestruck observer of creation’s praise (vv. 1–6) to recipient of revelation through the law of the LORD to a person with a testimony of transformation as the psalmist’s own voice joins the chorus of creation. May we experience this transformation as well so that we can join in the witness: “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Note that verse 14 contains the seventh occurrence of LORD in the psalm. With our transformed witness, the revelation of the LORD is now complete.

This psalm is rich. It reminds us of the wonder of God’s world in which we live, it revels in the power of God’s word to reveal our deepest needs, it testifies to God’s willingness to forgive and transform us, and it calls us to realign with God’s mission by adding our witness to the chorus of all creation.

What needs in the psalmist’s life does the law of the LORD reveal?

What is the connection between transformation and mission?

How does Psalm 19 teach us to pray?

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