A Look at Psalm 19

A Look at Psalm 19

The psalmist first dons the mantel of a lyric poet and then of a wise man.

His heart leaps with joy as he gazes on the beauty of creation. He sees the sun as a bridegroom coming forth “from his wedding canopy” (NRSV translation), and then traces its progress from one end of the heavens to the other.

His enthusiasm continues as he meditates on the law. The law gives wisdom to the simple and joy to the heart. Here it helps to recall that God gave the law to his people after rescuing them from the slavery of Egypt and joining them intimately to himself—much as a bridegroom embraces his bride. Experiencing such love, God’s people asked how they might return such love. It is then that God gave them the 10 commandments and other statutes.

Again the psalmist becomes lyrical. He sees the law as more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey. Observing the law will bring great reward.

We can easily imagine Jesus praying these words. He must have basked in the beauty of creation and in the marvelous wisdom of God’s law!

As we pray this psalm, we can recall that creation is a reflection of God’s beauty (especially as revealed in Jesus); and we can be reminded that the law was fulfilled in the Gospel. Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus raised the wonderful revelation of the Old Testament to the more wonderful revelation of the New Testament.

Toward the end of the psalm, we face the fact of our sins and failings. We express our trust that God will forgive us and care for us.

Photo: André Létzel

 
 

About the Author

Hilarion Kistner, O.F.M., after ordination in 1955, did further studies in Scripture. He taught Scripture to seminarians for 15 years. He has been editor of Sunday Homily Helps for more than 25 years.