As I read this psalm, I am remembered of our simple child’s prayer we used to repeat at mealtimes:
God is good, God is great,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.
Such a simple children’s prayer sums up exactly what David wrote here in Psalm 19. First he begins by recognizing the grandness of God. Imagine how the universe is sustained. Think about how it was created. Wonder at the great things in this world we take for granted: the expanse of space, how as a small planet our existence is held in balance with the sun (a great ball of fire), how all of it is kept in order by the presence and magnitude of God. We could never explore the ends of existence itself. We are easily lost in how huge all of this is. If the words of David aren’t enough, consider the demonstration of Francis:
Then David proceeds to talking about God Himself. In recognizing with awe the greatness of God, he also recognizes God’s goodness. Yes, He has set forth laws for not only how the sun rises and sets, but also how He sustains us and how He helps us flourish. He has given us directions on how we should live because He created us. The Creator knows how the creation is designed to operate and when we do, we find ourselves consumed with goodness and joy. Not only do we witness God’s goodness, but also His dependability and love for His creation.
David ends with a prayer, a plea, for God to help us keep from functioning outside of our design (i.e. sin) knowing that when we do, we punish ourselves. Too often we think of God as this big guy in the sky that gets mad at us for not obeying. Sure, He gets upset, but sin is self-abuse, self-mutilation, self-punishment. God doesn’t have to punish us for disobeying, because in that disobedience we punish ourselves. Sin brings its own punishment. Its ultimate punishment is separation from our Holy God: death. Once we can understand this, we can then grasp the enormity of Jesus’ death for us.
We look at God’s law as oppressive, but David reminds us that it restores our souls.
We think God’s testimony is a fairy tale, but it makes us wise.
We see God’s precepts as strict, but they make our heart rejoice.
We reject God’s commandments as overbearing, but they enlighten us.
We think the fear of the Lord is silliness, but it helps us endure forever.
We feel God’s judgements are unfair, but they clothe us in righteousness.
Our flesh wars with God’s principles because of the sin we allow in our lives. Sin wants to reign in our lives, but it never really satisfies. Once we allow ourselves to begin to experience the eternal goodness of God, we will finally start to understand how awesome He really is.