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V. 1. This Psalm seems especially to have been intended to prove, that the idolatry and irreligious of mankind were wholly inexcusable. Even the Gentiles, to the remotest regions of the earth, were shewn the glory of God, by the heavens and the heavenly orbs, the benefit of which they received ; but they forgot the Creator : Israel however had fuller and more adequate instructions from the sacred oracles. (Notes, Psalms 147:19-20. Isaiah 40:21-26. Jeremiah 10:11-15. Romans 1:18-23.
V. 2. The day and night, in constant rotation, instruct mankind in the knowledge of the glorious Creator ; and each day and night, as it were, transmits this task to its successor : or they answer to each other, as when men sing in parts, alternately.
V. 3-6. The luminaries of heaven are not capable of articulate discourse, as man is ; (which seems to be intimated by the abruptness of the original, " No speech, no " language, their voice is not heard ;) " yet their instructions may be understood by every nation under heaven : and whilst other teachers are confined to some particular district, they preach to the whole human race. (Note, Romans 10:18-21.) This is especially the case with the glorious sun, who has, as it were, his tabernacle pitched in the center of the heavens. Thence every morning he issues forth, in all the vigour, alacrity, and beautiful adorning, with which a bridegroom would leave his chamber to go to his nuptials; and rejoices like an active racer, who glories in his strength, and anticipates the victory, when about to start for the prize. Thus he daily diffuses through the whole earth, light, warmth, and fertility ; and preserves and invigorates all animal and vegetable life, and even penetrates by his piercing beams into the heart of the earth. (Notes, Genesis 1:14-19. Deuteronomy 4:19.)
The sun in the firmament may be considered as an emblem of " the " Sun of righteousness," diffusing divine light and salvation by his gospel to the nations of the earth. He delights in communicating blessings to his church, which us a Bridegroom he has espoused to himself: and his course will be unwearied as that of the sun, till the whole earth be filled with his light and salvation. (Notes, Psalms 84:11-12. Matthew 4:2-3. John 3:27-36.)
V. 7 The word, here translated "law," maybe rendered doctrine; and be understood as a general name for divine revelation, as then extant, the law of Moses being the principal part of it. The whole of this is " per" feet ; " (Note, Deuteronomy 32:4 ;) and it is intended to convert the soul from sin and the world, to God and holiness ; and thus to restore man from his fallen state. By it the Lord testifies to us all those truths, which relate to the mysteries and perfections of his nature, to our own slate and character, to the way of salvation, and to the eternal world ; with the invitations and promises connected with them.
(Marg. Ref. n. Notes, Psalms 119:111. Isaiah 8:20. 1 John 5:9-12.) This " testimony is sure," and entirely to be depended on ; and the ignorant and unlearned, who seem most exposed to delusion, by unreservedly and simply crediting the word of God, become wise unto salvation, and learn to live a holy, useful, and happy life, in this evil world : whilst human reasonings on these subjects commonly bewilder men in error and uncertainty.
This sure testimony ’ preserves ignorant souls from ’ being seduced to worship the sun . . .; for it makes them, ’ at the first word, so wise, as to understand that the LORD ’ " created the heavens, as well as the earth." ’ Bp. Patrick. "The statutes" frequently mean the ordinances of God, by which Israel maintained communion with him, and received all blessings from him. These, though burdensome in themselves, under that dispensation, were entirely suited to its object, and proved a source of joy to the believing worshipper. (Marg. Ref. q.) But some explain the word in this place, to signify the laws given to regulate the conduct of magistrate’s, in administering justice ; which were peculiarly equitable, and tended to render the nation happy. " The commandment," or the moral law, is " holy, just, and good," and spiritual; enlightening the mind to perceive what men should be and do, and how far they are from that holiness which it demands.
Thus they learn their true character, are shut up under sin and condemnation, and are brought to welcome the divine Saviour, as well as to walk in newness of life. (Notes, Exodus 20:1. Romans 3:19-20.) "The fear of the LORD, is " clean," as it sets the soul against all sin, and leads to holy watchfulness and diligence ; and being once truly implanted in the soul, it will endure for ever. The term also may include the worship rendered to God, according to his word ; which was free from all profane mixtures of superstition and idolatry, and far removed from the gross immoralities attending the religion of the surrounding nations. The obligation to this holy worship is perpetual ; hut the external form was varied, when the old dispensation was superseded by the new, and a more spiritual worship appointed. "The judgments" commonly, in the books of Moses, denote the judicial law: (Notes, Exodus 21:1. Deuteronomy 4:6-8
V. 12- 14. From the consideration of the word of God, David’s thoughts recurred to himself. Viewed in this glass, his errors or deviations, appeared innumerable ; and ne exclaimed, " Who can understand his errors ? "
Who can know, or find out, or recollect, all his failures of conformity to this perfect rule ? He therefore not only desired to be pardoned, and cleansed from those sins, which he had discovered and confessed, but also from such as he had forgotten or overlooked : for, by " secret faults," he evidently meant the transgressions which had escaped his own notice, or vanished from his memory; and not those which had been kept secret from human observation. The treachery of his heart likewise appeared to him so great, that he feared being drawn aside into deliberate and presumptuous sins, the result of proud contempt of God, and being brought under the dominion of some powerful lust ; and this dictated a fervent prayer to be kept back by divine grace from such dreadful crimes and consequences.
(Notes, Numbers 15:30-36.) In this way he hoped to be preserved upright and innocent from the great offence of rebellion, idolatry, or apostasy : and he earnestly intreated, that " the words of his mouth, and the meditation of his " heart," might, by divine grace, be rendered such as might properly obtain a merciful acceptance in the sight of that holy Lord God, whom he entitled " his Strength, " and his Redeemer." (Note, Job 19:23-27.) His dependence therefore was entirely the same as that of every Christian, who says, " Surely in the Lord " Jesus, " have " I righteousness and strength."
The heavens so declare the glory of God and proclaim his wisdom, power, and goodness, that atheists, infidels, idolaters, and all ungodly men, will be for ever left without excuse. Indeed, we may all learn profitable lessons from these constant teachers, who instruct, by day and night, men in every clime, and of every tongue. By considering these inanimate servants of our Creator, we may learn to adore his magnificence and liberality ; we may be stirred up to cheerfulness, constancy, and diligence in doing good ; and led to use our nobler gifts of reason and speech to proclaim his praise. The transition is thence easy an a natural to the contemplation of the Sun of righteousness, the Bridegroom of the church and Light of the world. While we walk in his holy light and consolations, and are made fruitful in good works by his genial influence ; we should long and pray for that time, when he shall enlighten, cheer, and fructify every nation on earth with his blessed salvation. He shines upon us through his word : may he send forth more and more faithful ministers to publish it throughout the earth ! Where that is truly received, " it " converteth the soul " from sin to God. May we heartily believe his " sure testimony," and imbibe heavenly wisdom from this pure and inexhaustible Fountain : may we rejoice in attending on all his ordinances ; and thus receive communications of light, grace, strength, and consolation from the fulness of Christ, and render to the Lord the glory due unto his name. May we study and understand his enlightening commandments ; examining ourselves by them, and walking with delight according to their holy instructions, while we embrace the precious promises, and daily plead them before our God. May his holy and purifying fear, which endures for ever, be deeply grafted in our hearts, that we may stand in awe of his righteous judgments, and be warned from every evil way; that we may flee for refuge to his gracious salvation, and have our consciences directed and our hearts encouraged by every part of his sacred word. Then shall we prize our Bibles more than all manner of riches, and find more delight in them than in all the pleasures of sense ; being guided by them into that happy path, which leads to still more complete felicity in the eternal world. But let it be observed, that the more any man studies and understands the holy scriptures, the more deeply will he be convinced of his own sinfulness, in thought, word, and deed : serious and frequent self-examination by this faithful mirror, will discover to him innumerable deviations from his perfect rule ; and convince him that those, which have escaped his recollection or observation, are equally innumerable. This will induce him to cast himself unreservedly upon the mercy and grace of God, for deliverance from those sins which have been hitherto unnoticed by himself, or vanished from his recollection. He will also grow more jealous of his own heart, and more afraid of temptation, lest he should be drawn into presumptuous sins, and come under the dominion of them : and whilst he longs, more and more, to be preserved from every transgression, and that his thoughts, words, and works, may be acceptable to the Lord ; he will feel more sensibly his own insufficiency for every good thing, and learn to depend more entirely upon Christ Jesus, as " made of God unto him, Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption;" and he will " rejoice and glory in him alone." (Note, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.)
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Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 19". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent