Scripture Text – Psalm 19
Many church lectionaries assigns this psalm to be read on Christmas Day, when the “Sun of Righteousness” came into the world (Malachi 4:2) and the “Living Word” was laid in the manger (John 1:14). The emphasis in the psalm is on God’s revelations of Himself in creation, Scripture, and the human heart.
The Witness Within Us – God the Redeemer (Psalm 19:12–14)
Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
Unless we have a personal relationship with the Lord so that God is our Father and Jesus is our Redeemer, what we see in creation and what we read in the Bible will not do us much good. The Magi in Matthew 2:1–12 started on their journey by following God’s star, a special messenger in the sky to direct them. Then they consulted God’s Word and found that the King was to be born in Bethlehem; so they went to Bethlehem and there found and worshiped the Savior. When you study God’s creation with a Bible in your hand, you can’t help but see Jesus!
Christ Jesus is seen in the vine (John 15), the sun (John 8:12; Malachi 4:2), the stars (Numbers 24:17), the lambs (John 1:29), the apple trees and lilies (Song of Solomon 2:3, 16; 6:3), the seed planted in the ground (John 12:23–24), and the bread on the table (John 6:35). The Word in the hand is fine; the Word in the head is better; but the Word in the heart is what transforms us and matures us in Christ (Psalm 119:11; Colossians 3:16–17).
The Word is a light (Psalm 119:105) and a mirror (James 1:22–25) to help us see ourselves, search our hearts (Hebrews 4:12), and recognize and acknowledge our sins. We learn what sin is by reading and hearing the law (Romans 3:20; 7:7–14). “Secret sins” are those we don’t even see ourselves and yet are still there, “sins of ignorance” we don’t realize we’ve committed. The Old Testament law made provision for their forgiveness (Leviticus 4; Numbers 15:22–29) because the sinners were guilty even though they were ignorant of what they had done (Leviticus 5:17). However, the law provided no atonement for presumptuous or blatant and willful sins (Numbers 15:30–36; Deuteronomy 17:12–13). When David committed adultery and arranged to have Uriah murdered (2 Samuel 11–12), he sinned insolently with his eyes wide open and therefore could bring no sacrifice (Psalm 51:16–17). When he confessed his sins, God in His grace forgave him (2 Samuel 12:13), but David paid dearly for his transgressions. Unconfessed sins, even if committed ignorantly, can grow within the heart and begin to rule over us, and this can lead to our committing willful disobedience (“great transgression” – there is no article for this in the Hebrew text).
As stated previously, creation is God’s “wordless book,” and the Scriptures are God’s holy Word to us, but God wants to hear our words as “sacrifices” that please Him (Psalm 141:1–2; Hosea 14:2; Hebrews 13:15). The word that is translated “acceptable” refers to the priest’s examination of the sacrifices to make sure they were without blemish. If the sacrifice wasn’t acceptable to the Lord, the worshiper was not accepted by the Lord (Leviticus 1:1–9; 22:17–25; Malachi 1:6–8). The words we speak begin with the thoughts in our heart (Matthew 12:33–37), so it’s important that we meditate on God’s Word and God’s works, the first two themes of Psalm 19. If we delight in God’s Word, we will naturally meditate on it and give expression of His truth with our lips, and this will help to keep us from sin (Psalm 119:9–16, 23–24, 47–48, 77–78, 97–99). The usage here refers to the “kinsman redeemer” (goel, which means “one who has the right to redeem”) who could rescue a relative from difficult situations (Leviticus 25:25–28; Numbers 35:11–34; Isaiah 43:14; see especially the Book of Ruth). Jesus is our Redeemer (Galatians 3:13; 4:5; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18), and He became our “kinsman” when He came in sinless human flesh to die for us on the cross. He is both Rock and Redeemer, for He not only paid the price to set us free, but along with that freedom, He also keeps us safe.