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Psalm 19

Perhaps you have seen the Extreme Makeover TV series in which a team of experts does an extraordinary renovation on a house. When the project is finished, a huge bus blocks the family and friends’ view of the house. The show’s host leads the crowd in chanting, “Move that bus!” The bus moves out of the way to reveal the handiwork of the team of designers and builders. Were we to watch the show enough, we would begin to see a design and know something about its designer, based on how they work with molding, window treatments, or cabinetry.

Now imagine standing in a crowd with the psalmist, whose hymn is about to reveal God to us, as we chant, “Move that bus!” As fun as this thought is, Psalm 19 does a ‘God reveal’ so much better than a bus does. It is God who has chosen to reveal himself to us. The Holy Spirit breathed this psalm through the psalmist as part of God’s self-revelation.

In Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis declared, “I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.”[i] This great poem was written in two distinct parts. The first part, verses 1-6, looks at the day and night skies of God’s creation. The second part, verses 7-14, is a quick overview of the law God gave to us through Moses. The first part refers just once to God, El in Hebrew. The second part makes mention seven times of the LORD, Yahweh in Hebrew, the name God himself revealed to Moses at the burning, non-burning bush. The verses are longer in the first part and shorter in the second part of the psalm. The style of the first part is that of a hymn. The style of the second part is typical of wisdom poetry.

These section subtitles will assist your study of this psalm: James Limburg:

What the Heavens Tell – 19:1-6 What the Scriptures Teach – 19:7–10