Psalms 18-21
(The Creator)
June 6th


Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

- Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

This set of Psalms is a good reminder to us of Godís role as creator and protector, and gives us examples of beautiful language and images that we can use to praise God. The first two Psalms in this group are focused on praise and thanks to God. In Psalm 18, the author praises God in great details as his protector, rescuer, enabler, and source of strength in a military context. In the early part of the psalm God comes down from heaven for a dramatic rescue:

    In my distress I called out: LORD!
    I cried out to my God.
    From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry to him reached his ears.

    The earth rocked and shook;
    the foundations of the mountains trembled;
    they shook as his wrath flared up.

    Smoke rose from his nostrils,
    a devouring fire from his mouth;
    it kindled coals into flame.

    - Psalm 18:7-9 (NAB)



    Who made my feet like a deerís,
    and set me on the heights,

    Who trained my hands for war,
    my arms to string a bow of bronze.

    You have given me your saving shield;
    your right hand has upheld me;
    your favor made me great.

    -Psalms 18:34-36 (NAB)

Psalm 19 describes Godís glory as the creator of the physical world, the defining source of law, and as the Redeemer:

    Creator of the World
    God's glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
        Madame Day holds classes every morning,
            Professor Night lectures each evening.

    Their words aren't heard,
            their voices aren't recorded,
        But their silence fills the earth:
            unspoken truth is spoken everywhere

    - Psalm 19:1-4 (MSG)

    Defining Source of the Law
    The revelation of God is whole
            and pulls our lives together.
        The signposts of God are clear
            and point out the right road.

    - Psalm 19:7-9 (MSG)

The last two Psalms in this group are connected like a call and response: The 20th Psalm asks for victory and the 21st gives thanks for a victory. The Psalmists notes in Psalm 20 that some people trust in creations of man but the faithful rely on the LORD. In the 21st Psalm he describes how the earthly king who praises God is blessed and describes how God thwarts the followers of the evil one: ďTheir fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men. For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform (Ps 21:10-11 - KJV).Ē


Reflection and Application

Oftentimes when we first read a Psalm it seems like the verses are disconnected. But there is usually a reason and a pattern intended by the author. The pattern can be somewhat obscured by time and language but can be revealed with study, reflection, and guidance. For example, in Psalm 19, the first six verses is a beautiful description of God as the Creator of the natural world while verses 7-14 define God as the Creator of the Law.

What happened to this Psalm?

Did some careless scribe paste together two poems that were not meant to be together? Probably not. Instead, as explained by William Barclay, both of these descriptions are part of the revelation of God to man. He reveals himself in nature and he reveals himself in the Law. Barclay observes that these opening verses make clear that ďthere is an eloquent silence in which God makes himself known (through nature), which he says are represented more accurately in the translation from the New English Bible (1):

    And this without speech or language.
    or sound of any voice.
    Their music goes out through all the earth,
    Their words reach to the end of the world

    - Psalm 19:3-4 (New English Bible)

Godís creation is a wonder to behold. If we donít pause to appreciate it every once in a while then we are missing a big part of the show. Science attempts to explain how the universe was created, but there are always gaps in understanding, and no agreed theory on where the source of energy and life originated. Science can help us understand and appreciate what God created, and how to care for his creation, but the answer to the open questions can be found in the heavens.

Paul quotes Psalm verses 19:3-4 word for word in Romans 10:18. He uses this Psalm to point out that the world has heard of God and the miracles of Jesus, but reminds his audience that not everyone took heed. Our role is to respond to what we have heard by believing it in our hearts and sharing the Good News with others.

The next part of this Psalm speaks of the beauty of Godís law. Depending on which version you read, the Psalmist says that the law is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant and pure (NIV); or whole, clear, right, and plain (The Message). Moreover, the author declares that keeping the law leads to rewards Ė or is a reward by itself. How can that be?

One example is the delight in the joy of doing the right thing for others. Don't you feel a natural high when you help someone else out - particularly when there is no explicit reward? There was once a high school state champion in track and field named Meghan Vogel who stopped to help her fallen opponent and carried the other athlete across the finish line. She later said that she felt more joy from helping her fellow athlete then by beating all the other athletes from the state: "Helping her across the finish line was a lot more satisfying than winning the state championship," said Vogel to a local newspaper (2).

By contrast, freedom from the law is no freedom at all, but leads to confusion and disarray because when we break away from the law we are forcing our bodies down an unnatural path. Nevertheless, itís not easy to stay on the right path, so the Psalmist concludes this encounter by asking God to forgive the hidden faults and keep him from willful disobedience.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What do you think about when you look up at the stars?
    2. How would you explain the ways in which science and faith co-exist?
    3. Who does God want you to share the Good News with today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in Heaven we know you are the Creator of heaven, earth, and the laws of the universe. Help us to appreciate your creation and find joy in your law.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Scientists

    Footnotes

    (1) Barclay, William, The Lord is My Sheperd,The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1973, p.103
    (2) "Ohio runner stops in state final to aid fallen opponent"


    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Psalms 22-27 (Pain, Defeat, and Victory)

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