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Psalm 19

I have always admired the way the Psalmists have been able to put into words and express the relationship between God and God’s people.  This Psalm is no exception as it paints a picture of the glory of God and invites us to respond and participate.  There are three parts in this Psalm that get drawn together by God’s Word.  The first is God’s creation proclaiming God’s glory(v1-6), the second theme concerns the Law and the way that it informs our lives (v7-11) and finally we see the psalmist reflect on these in prayer (v12-14).  Each theme holds great value, but the Psalmist weaves them together in a picture that poetically reflects the relationship between God and creation.  When we look at these themes and break them down we are left with a picture of God speaking, and God’s creation responding. This is the gift of the Psalms, they invite and give us the words to participate in this conversation.  So we are then left with a simple question, how do we respond?  To answer that question we have to consider the three themes and what it means to be a participant in each.

 

In the opening verses we are given an image of the Glory of God woven throughout all of creation.  This image is a good starting point for us to leap into the conversation.  God spoke creation into existence and these  verses are a chance for creation, and us as a part of creation, to respond.  There's a couple things to notice about this response to God’s glory, the first is that creation is constantly proclaiming God’s glory, it “Day to day pours forth speech,  and night to night declares knowledge.”(v2).  This consistency is not only reflective of the importance of God’s glory but is also reflective of our role in the conversation.  We, as a part of creation, are also made to reflect God’s glory.  This is reminiscent of the Shema’s task “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut 6:4-9).  The second part of this is that our reflection of God’s Glory should be about God alone.  When creation speaks it is in a way that mutes itself to instead proclaim that which God has already said in the act of creating.  As we step into this conversation, we are given the opportunity to examine what in our own lives fails to give God this glory.  

 

The second part of the conversation leads us to respond to the Word of God through the Law and its perfection.  When we think of the Law often we are bogged down with images of dogmatic fundamentalism or the “THOU SHALL NOT”s, but neither of these are a part of the conversation the psalmist is inviting us into.  The psalmist makes a statement about the law and then gives a reflection point for our own lives.  Verse 7 sets the tone for this part of the conversation by proclaiming that the law of the Lord is perfect and its perfection revives us.  The conversation continues, giving us a moment to respond to God’s spoken word.   There is sometimes a discomfort in speaking about the law because it requires us to be submissive.  This however is not reflected in the psalm. Instead the psalmist chooses to adopt the understanding that God’s care and love for creation surpasses our participation in the conversation.  Furthermore the psalmist draws our attention to how wonderful and precious this Word from God is, saying “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.” (V10)  We are called to respond to the law in the same manner as we responded with creation by giving God the glory, and in reflecting on what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do.  In this part of the conversation then, we respond by loving God and loving others, once again harkening back to the words of the Shema.

 

The final part of the Conversation is done in prayer.  This prayer is done with the intention of relying on the strength of God and not the psalmist’s.  It is a plea for help to both keep their actions inline with what God has commanded and to direct them on their way.  The psalmist recognizes that it is God who creates,  God who leads, and God who protects not the psalmist.  The end of this prayer presents powerful verses to reflect on; “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (v14)  This is a petition that draws the psalmist away from self and back to God, asking God to give them the words to speak and the heart to hear and understand, so that they can better participate in the divine conversation, granting us a potent example of  how to respond when we join the conversation.

 

These three themes tie together to lead us in a singular, purposeful, direction to respond to the glory and majesty of the Lord, who calls us into conversation and relationship.  God spoke and creation sang of the glory of the words, God spoke the law and its joy and peace to creation, God spoke and it inspired us to hand our lives over to the Creator’s good and perfect will.  The psalmist lays out this wonderful picture of participating in the conversation between God and God’s people, and when we reflect on that we can respond in only one way, which is to be drawn into closer relationship with the Creator.