Sunday, January 27, 2008

Psalm 19 Outline

Another Psalm outline using my basic method. This one is much more sparse than 121, and there is much more to say about the poem.


  • Type of Psalm: Teaching/Torah Psalm, teaching us about the goodness of Yahweh's Torah (Law/Revelation).

  • Superscript: To the Choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Also a lyrical song, meant to be sung by the congregation.

Section 1

The heavens declare the glory of God,
And the sky above proclaims His handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech,
Nor are there words
Whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set tent for the sun,
Which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
And, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the end of them,
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

  • Structure - Both sections 1 and 2 have the same internal structure (with one crucial difference). 1) Six parallel lines describing a kind of speech (the speech of the creation vs. God's revelation). 2) Two images describing the speaker/speech. 3) Concluding lines about the effect of the speech.

  • Part 1 - Six parallel lines about the speech of the creation. They talk about the glory of God. Lines 5-7 unbalance this from Section 2, teaching us that the creation only speaks metaphorically. The stars speak to everyone on earth.

  • Part 2 - Two images to describe the sun, the chief speaker of the sky. Images describe both the greatness of the sun and his action of sweeping over the earth.

  • Part 3 - The effect of the sun is to cover over all the earth.

Section 2

The law of Yahweh is perfect, reviving the soul;
The testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple;
The precepts of Yahweh are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of Yahweh is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring forever;
The rules of Yahweh are true, and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.

  • Part 1 - Six tightly parallel lines describing God's revelation. First names revelation by a different word, second part gives and adjective to describe it, third part describes its effect. Different names for revelation teach us that the Psalm is talking about all of God's spoken/written revelation to man. Effects remind us of the effects of the sun (enlightening, reviving, rejoicing).

  • Part 2 - Two images to describe the greatness of the law.

  • Part 3 - The effect of the law is to teach us, and provide us the way of reward.

Section 3

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
And innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in your sight,
O YHWH, my rock and my redeemer.

  • The structure of this sections is loose, not related to the first two sections. This is a lyrical prayer. The speaker now speaks to God in the first person.

  • This prayer is prompted by considering the effect of the sun and the Law. If the Law searches like the sun, a sinner needs help, and so he cries to God for it.

  • Image: Yahweh is our rock, which pictures a fortress. Even when Yahweh's law is searching us, God is still our protection.


  • The parallel structure of the first two sections show us that the sky (specifically the sun) is a poetic image itself showing us what God's revelation is like. It is good, it is warm and comforting, and it covers everything.

  • The primary way that the sky speaks is by being a poetic image. Most poets work by thinking of the thing that they want to describe and then looking at the material in the world to find an image. God works by thinking of thing He wants to describe and then making something to serve as an image.

  • This poem describes all of God's revelation. David does not know the difference between "Law" and "Gospel". All of God's revelation is good, providing salvation.

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