By Henry Mahan
David devoted himself to the study of God's two great books-- the book of nature (v. 1), 'the heavens declare the glory of God;' and the book of holy scripture (v. 7), 'the law (the word or doctrine) of the Lord is perfect.' How foolish are those who spend their time and wits trying to resolve discrepancies and contradictions instead of accepting these two sacred volumes and coming to know the author (Rom. 1:18-20; John 20:31). I appreciate the man who is a student of the world-book and the word-book and can say, 'My Father wrote them both.' Creation and the Scriptures have one author, the living God, and one objective, the glory of God! Creation is the outer court where we look, admire, and adore our God (Psalm 8:3-4) ; and the word of God is the inner court where we kneel, worship, and praise him (Psalm 119:9-12).
This Psalm may be divided into three parts:
The creation shows God's glory. (vv. 1-6)
The word reveals God's grace. (vv. 7-11)
The prayer of the man who understands both. (vv. 12- 14)
1. The heavens declare the glory of God (vv. 1-6)
v. 1. The heavens are three. There is the third heaven spoken of by Paul in II Cor. 12:2-4. There is the heaven of stars, sun, and planets; and there is the heaven above the earth with clouds. All are constantly declaring the glory of God and showing his handiwork. If every preacher on earth were silent and every tongue still, the heavens above would never cease to declare the wisdom, power, and majesty of our God.
v. 2. 'Day unto day pours forth speech.' Where one day leaves off, the next day takes up the sermon. The day speaks of 'Christ, the light of the world.' The rising sun declares. 'The sun of Righteousness arises with healing in his wings' (Mal. 4:4).
While the night speaks of his rest, it also declares, 'I must walk and work while there is light, for the night cometh when no man can work.' There will come an eternal day and eternal darkness.
The passing of day and night speaks of the brevity of life. 'Teach me to number my days that I may apply my heart to wisdom' (Psalm 90:12).
vv. 3. Many are the languages of men on earth; but there is no speech nor language on earth where the voice of God's heavens is not heard, for the teaching of creation is not directed to the ear but to the eye and heart. 'God hath showed it unto them' (Rom. 1:19).
v. 4. The teaching and instructions of God's creation is gone out through all the earth. No man living beneath the heavens is beyond the reach of God's outer court preacher. 'In the heavens God has made a tabernacle for the sun.' Like a mighty king, the sun continues on its way, attended by the moon and the stars.
vv. 5-6. Who is this sun? It is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ--the sun of righteousness!
Jesus Christ, like the sun, is the center, light, and life of God's new creation (Rev. 21:23).
Jesus Christ, like the sun, dwells in the midst of revelation. He tabernacled among men in all his brightness. All that was made was made by him, for him, and by him it is held together (Col. 1:16-17).
Jesus Christ comes forth as the bridegroom of his elect church.
Jesus Christ rejoices as the strong man who wins the battle over the forces of evil and death (Isa. 53:10-12).
His going forth is from everlasting to everlasting (Micah 5:2). His circuit of mercies blesses the farthest ends and remotest corners of the earth (Rev. 5:9).
There are none who believe who shall be denied the warmth and comfort of his love, and none who don't believe who shall escape the heat of his wrath.
2. The word of God reveals his grace (vv. 7-11)
v. 7. 'The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.' This is not the law of Moses but the whole text of holy scripture. The great means of conversion is the word of God (Rom. 10:13-17; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Rom. 1:16-17). 'The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.' What God has to say in his word about himself, his dear Son, our sin, and salvation is sure, certain, and infallible (1 John 5:10-13). Humble, teachable minds receive the word of God and are made wise unto salvation (1 Cor. 2:8-10).
v. 8. 'The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.' The statutes of the Lord are his counsel and decrees. his covenant of mercy and grace and these statutes are founded in righteousness. God will be just and justifier! God will be righteous and merciful! (Psalm 85:10; Isa. 45:21; Rom. 3:25-26).
These righteous decrees rejoice the heart of those taught of God. There is a reason for rejoicing when one understands how that in Christ, God can redeem us and still be God! 'The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the understanding.' The pure, holy word of God (Who will by no means clear the guilty) is revealed to us in Christ Jesus; and our eyes are opened to his glory (2 Cor. 4:3-6).
v. 9) 'The (reverent) fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.' Still the word of God is intended, which teaches men an awe, reverent fear, and worship of God. The word of God directs us to the blood of Christ, which cleanses us from all sin and fear of the curse and leaves us only to love and worship our God.
While the ceremonial law is done away, the gospel is forever.
vv. 10-11. 'The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.' His decrees, his covenant, his mercies, and his condemnations are founded on truth and righteousness. They shall stand and shall bring both riches and pleasure to all who believe. By hearing them a man is warned, and by obeying them a man is greatly rewarded.
3. The prayer of the man who can read the two books (vv. 12- 14)
The man who knows God and his word knows himself. 'Cleanse me from sins which even I do not see. Keep me from presuming on the mercy of God. Let not the flesh have dominion over me, and deliver me from apostasy and departing from the living God.
Let my words praise God, speak peace to my brother, be free from malice and murmuring. Let the meditations of my heart be sincere, submissive to thy will, and dwell much on Christ.'