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Psalm 19 — Creation And Law

Psalm 19 is a glorious hymn that at first glance connects a theology of creation with a theology of worship:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.
 
In its rhythms and its cycles, then, creation gives praise to God.  It doesn’t have to sing praise because it embodies praise.
 
And yet, just when it seems like Psalm 19 would have us move our church sanctuaries into the great National Parks of the American West, it changes direction:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
 
Wait!  The Psalm begins with a compelling meditation on creation and then moves to a celebration of the law
 
It’s as if the Psalmist looks out over the beach at Malibu, marvels at the beauty of the waves and the sand and the sunset and then exclaims, “thank God for the book of Leviticus!” 
 
As discordant as that sounds, that’s exactly what happens in Psalm 19.  The psalm writer sees the wisdom of God written into the beauty of creation.

10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
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.
 
So next time you are basking in the beauty of nature, pull out Deuteronomy 20 or Matthew 5 and read it aloud. 
 
Because God’s creation is a display case for God’s wisdom.
 
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