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Psalms 19:1-14

Context
Psalm 19 1 

For the music director; a psalm of David.

19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; 2 

the sky displays his handiwork. 3 

19:2 Day after day it speaks out; 4 

night after night it reveals his greatness. 5 

19:3 There is no actual speech or word,

nor is its 6  voice literally heard.

19:4 Yet its voice 7  echoes 8  throughout the earth;

its 9  words carry 10  to the distant horizon. 11 

In the sky 12  he has pitched a tent for the sun. 13 

19:5 Like a bridegroom it emerges 14  from its chamber; 15 

like a strong man it enjoys 16  running its course. 17 

19:6 It emerges from the distant horizon, 18 

and goes from one end of the sky to the other; 19 

nothing can escape 20  its heat.

19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect

and preserves one’s life. 21 

The rules set down by the Lord 22  are reliable 23 

and impart wisdom to the inexperienced. 24 

19:8 The Lord’s precepts are fair 25 

and make one joyful. 26 

The Lord’s commands 27  are pure 28 

and give insight for life. 29 

19:9 The commands to fear the Lord are right 30 

and endure forever. 31 

The judgments given by the Lord are trustworthy

and absolutely just. 32 

19:10 They are of greater value 33  than gold,

than even a great amount of pure gold;

they bring greater delight 34  than honey,

than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb.

19:11 Yes, your servant finds moral guidance there; 35 

those who obey them receive a rich reward. 36 

19:12 Who can know all his errors? 37 

Please do not punish me for sins I am unaware of. 38 

19:13 Moreover, keep me from committing flagrant 39  sins;

do not allow such sins to control me. 40 

Then I will be blameless,

and innocent of blatant 41  rebellion.

19:14 May my words and my thoughts

be acceptable in your sight, 42 

O Lord, my sheltering rock 43  and my redeemer. 44 

1 sn Psalm 19. The psalmist praises God for his self-revelation in the heavens and in the Mosaic law. The psalmist concludes with a prayer, asking the Lord to keep him from sinning and to approve of his thoughts and words.

2 sn God’s glory refers here to his royal majesty and power.

3 tn Heb “and the work of his hands the sky declares.” The participles emphasize the ongoing testimony of the heavens/sky.

4 tn Heb “it gushes forth a word.” The “sky” (see v. 1b) is the subject of the verb. Though not literally speaking (see v. 3), it clearly reveals God’s royal majesty. The sun’s splendor and its movement across the sky is in view (see vv. 4-6).

5 tn Heb “it [i.e., the sky] declares knowledge,” i.e., knowledge about God’s royal majesty and power (see v. 1). This apparently refers to the splendor and movements of the stars. The imperfect verbal forms in v. 2, like the participles in the preceding verse, combine with the temporal phrases (“day after day” and “night after night”) to emphasize the ongoing testimony of the sky.

6 tn Heb “their.” The antecedent of the plural pronoun is “heavens” (v. 1).

7 tc The MT reads, “their measuring line” (קוּם, qum). The noun קַו (qav, “measuring line”) makes no sense in this context. The reading קוֹלָם (qolam, “their voice”) which is supported by the LXX, is preferable.

8 tn Heb “goes out,” or “proceeds forth.”

9 tn Heb “their” (see the note on the word “its” in v. 3).

10 tn The verb is supplied in the translation. The Hebrew text has no verb; יָצָא (yatsa’, “goes out”) is understood by ellipsis.

11 tn Heb “to the end of the world.”

12 tn Heb “in them” (i.e., the heavens).

13 sn He has pitched a tent for the sun. The personified sun emerges from this “tent” in order to make its daytime journey across the sky. So the “tent” must refer metaphorically to the place where the sun goes to rest during the night.

14 tn The participle expresses the repeated or regular nature of the action.

15 tn The Hebrew noun חֻפָּה (khufah, “chamber”) occurs elsewhere only in Isa 4:5 and Joel 2:16 (where it refers to the bedroom of a bride and groom).

sn Like a bridegroom. The metaphor likens the sun to a bridegroom who rejoices on his wedding night.

16 tn The imperfect verbal form draws attention to the regularity of the action.

17 tn Heb “[on] a path.”

sn Like a strong man. The metaphorical language reflects the brilliance of the sunrise, which attests to the sun’s vigor.

18 tn Heb “from the end of the heavens [is] its going forth.”

19 tn Heb “and its circuit [is] to their ends.”

20 tn Heb “is hidden from.”

21 tn Heb “[it] restores life.” Elsewhere the Hiphil of שׁוּב (shuv, “return”) when used with נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “life”) as object, means to “rescue or preserve one’s life” (Job 33:30; Ps 35:17) or to “revive one’s strength” (emotionally or physically; cf. Ruth 4:15; Lam 1:11, 16, 19). Here the point seems to be that the law preserves the life of the one who studies it by making known God’s will. Those who know God’s will know how to please him and can avoid offending him. See v. 11a.

22 tn Traditionally, “the testimony of the Lord.” The noun עֵדוּת (’edut) refers here to the demands of God’s covenant law.

23 tn God’s covenant contains a clear, reliable witness to his moral character and demands.

24 tn Or “the [morally] naive,” that is, the one who is young and still in the process of learning right from wrong and distinguishing wisdom from folly.

25 tn Or “just.” Perhaps the idea is that they impart a knowledge of what is just and right.

26 tn Heb “[they] make happy [the] heart.” Perhaps the point is that they bring a sense of joyful satisfaction to the one who knows and keeps them, for those who obey God’s law are richly rewarded. See v. 11b.

27 tn Heb “command.” The singular here refers to the law as a whole.

28 tn Because they reflect God’s character, his commands provide a code of moral and ethical purity.

29 tn Heb [they] enlighten [the] eyes.

30 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord is clean.” The phrase “fear of the Lord” probably refers here to the law, which teaches one how to demonstrate proper reverence for the Lord. See Ps 111:10 for another possible use of the phrase in this sense.

31 tn Heb “[it] stands permanently.”

32 sn Trustworthy and absolutely just. The Lord’s commands accurately reflect God’s moral will for his people and are an expression of his just character.

33 tn Heb “more desirable.”

34 tn Heb “are sweeter.” God’s law is “sweet’ in the sense that, when obeyed, it brings a great reward (see v. 11b).

35 tn Heb “moreover your servant is warned by them.”

36 tn Heb “in the keeping of them [there is] a great reward.”

37 tn Heb “Errors who can discern?” This rhetorical question makes the point that perfect moral discernment is impossible to achieve. Consequently it is inevitable that even those with good intentions will sin on occasion.

38 tn Heb “declare me innocent from hidden [things],” i.e., sins. In this context (see the preceding line) “hidden” sins are not sins committed in secret, but sins which are not recognized as such by the psalmist.

39 tn Or “presumptuous.”

40 tn Heb “let them not rule over me.”

41 tn Heb “great.”

42 tn Heb “may the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart be acceptable before you.” The prefixed verbal form at the beginning of the verse is understood as a jussive of prayer. Another option is to translate the form as an imperfect continuing the thought of v. 14b: “[Then] the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart will be acceptable before you.”

43 tn Heb “my rocky cliff,” which is a metaphor for protection; thus the translation “sheltering rock.”

44 tn Heb “and the one who redeems me.” The metaphor casts the Lord in the role of a leader who protects members of his extended family in times of need and crisis.



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