The Third Sunday of Lent:
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19 divides into three distinct sections.
The first reflects upon the wonders of God’s creation, the second upon the perfection of God’s law, and the third upon our relationship with both that wondrous creation and that perfect law.
Psalm 19 reminds us that our interaction with both nature and the law is essential if we are to come anywhere near a full revelation of God in our lives.
The image of the sun in the first section of this psalm has been interpreted by many Christians as a prophecy of the Christ who was yet to come.
From ancient times the sun was viewed as both the giver and the sustainer of life and justice.
The fulfilment of the mission of Jesus Christ can be seen in the psalmist’s imagery of the sun in the words: Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.
From recognizing the wonder of God’s creation and the perfection of God’s law we are called to reflect upon our own words and action in the final words of the psalm.
Many people lead a double life in the sense that they say the right things about living in the light of God’s creation and under the jurisdiction of God’s law, but the reality of their daily live is very different.
Human beings create a whole language of self-justification and obfuscation for themselves.
When we are contemplating the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart, a good rule of thumb for us all to employ is this: ‘If what I am saying, thinking and doing is OK in the sight of God, why am I keeping it a secret?’
The final verse of Psalm 19 is often used by preachers as a prayer before they deliver their sermon … it is certainly a prayer I often use in the pulpit.
Those words are a prayer that we might remind ourselves of our call to remain true to the wonders and the perfection of God’s nature and law.
They remind us not to re-interpret the God’s truth for our own ends.
They remind us of the responsibility we have to lead others along the true path of Christian discipleship.
Those words are saying: ‘Lord, keep me honest in what I say; keep my words true to your law. May my words always glorify you.’
I pray that those words may be on the hearts and lips of all of us as continue our journey through this holy season of Lent.