Psalm 19 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Psalm 19)

Verse 1

[1] The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

The heavens — They are as a legible book, wherein he that runs may read it.

The glory — His eternal power and Godhead, his infinite wisdom and goodness.

Firmament — Or, the expansion, all the vast space extended from the earth to the highest heavens, with all its goodly furniture.

Verse 2

[2] Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

Day — Every day and night repeats these demonstrations of God's glory.

Uttereth — Or, poureth forth, constantly and abundantly, as a fountain doth water; So this Hebrew word signifies.

Knowledge — Gives us a clear knowledge or discovery of God their author.

Verse 3

[3] There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Heard — Or, understood; there are divers nations in the world, which have several languages, so that one cannot discourse with, or be understood by another, but the heavens are such an universal teacher, that they can speak to all people, and be clearly understood by all.

Verse 4

[4] Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

Line — Their lines, the singular number being put for the plural. And this expression is very proper, because the heavens do not teach men audibly, or by speaking to their ears, but visibly by propounding things to their eyes, which is done in lines or writings.

Gone — Is spread abroad.

Earth — So as to be seen and read, by all the inhabitants of the earth.

Words — Their magnificent structure, their exquisite order, and most regular course, by which they declare their author, no less than men discover their minds by their words.

Sun — Which being the most illustrious and useful of all the heavenly bodies, is here particularly mentioned.

Verse 5

[5] Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

Bridegroom — Gloriously adorned with light as with a beautiful garment, and smiling upon the world with a pleasant countenance.

Chamber — In which he is poetically supposed to have rested all night, and thence to break forth as it were on a sudden.

Strong man — Conscious and confident of his own strength.

Verse 6

[6] His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

The ends — His course is constant from east to west, and thence to the east again. So that there is no part of the earth which doth not one time or other feel the benefit of his light and heat.

Verse 7

[7] The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

The law — The doctrine delivered to his church, whether by Moses, or by other prophets. Having discoursed hitherto of the glory of God shining forth in, the visible heavens, he now proceeds to another demonstration of God's glory, which he compares with and prefers before the former.

Perfect — Completely discovering both the nature and will of God, and the whole duty of man, what he is to believe and practice, and whatsoever is necessary to his present and eternal happiness. Whereas the creation, although it did declare so much of God, as left all men without excuse, yet did not fully manifest the will of God, nor bring men to eternal salvation.

Converting — From sin to God, from whom all men are naturally revolted.

Testimony — His law, so called because it is a witness between God and man, what God requires of man, and what upon the performance of that condition, he will do for man.

Sure — Heb. faithful or true, which is most necessary in a witness: it will not mislead any man, but will infallibly bring him to happiness.

Simple — Even persons of the lowest capacities.

Verse 8

[8] The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Right — Both in themselves, and in their effect, as guiding men in the ready way to eternal happiness.

Rejoicing — By the discoveries of God's love to sinful men, in offers and promises of mercy.

Commandment — All his commands.

Pure — Without the least mixture of error.

The eyes — Of the mind, with a compleat manifestation of God's will and man's duty: both which, the works of nature, and all the writings of men discover but darkly and imperfectly.

Verse 9

[9] The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

The fear — The law and word of God, because it is both the object and the rule, and the cause of holy fear.

Clean — Sincere, not adulterated with any mixture. Constant and unchangeable, the same for substance in all ages.

Judgments — God's laws are frequently called his judgments, because they are the declarations of his righteous will, and as it were his judicial sentence by which he expects that men should govern themselves, and by which he will judge them at the last day.

Verse 12

[12] Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

Who — Thy law, O Lord, is holy and just and good. But I fall infinitely short of it.

Cleanse — Both by justification, through the blood of thy son; and by sanctification thro' thy holy spirit. Though the first may seem to be principally intended, because he speaks of his past sins.

Secret — From the guilt of such sins as were secret either, from others; such as none knows but God and my own conscience: or, from myself; such as I never observed, or did not discern the evil of. Pardon my unknown sins, of which I never repented particularly, as I should have done.

Verse 13

[13] Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Presumptuous — From known and evident sins, such as are committed against knowledge, against the checks of conscience, and the motions of God's spirit.

Dominion — If I be at any time tempted to such sins, Lord let them not prevail over me, and if I do fall into them, let me speedily rise again.

Verse 14

[14] Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Let — Having prayed that God would keep him from sinful actions, he now prays that God would govern, and sanctify his words and thoughts: and this was necessary to preserve him from presumptuous sins, which have their first rise in the thoughts.

Redeemer — This expression seems to be added emphatically, and with special respect to Christ, to whom alone this word Goel can properly belong.