John Calvin: Psalm 19

In reading Psalm 19 along with Calvin’s commentary, I have found it enlightening to see the unique arrangement of the Psalm. Calvin explains it thusly,

“…this psalm consist of two parts, in the first of which David celebrates the glory of God as manifested in his works; and, in the other, exalts and magnifies the knowledge of God which shines forth more clearly in his word.”

What I found peculiarly astoinishing about this distinction is the way in which the first part deepens and emboldens the glory of the second part. For in the first part of the Psalm, David proclaims the the glory of the Lord displayed in the heavens. Yet, it is not merely displayed. As Calvin understands, the psalmist here is using far more force with his words. Here the heavens are “preaching” not merely “showing.” Calvin writes, “The heavens by their preaching declare the glory of God.” In the following few verses, the psalmist gives explanations of this by declaring that daily and nightly this glory is seen. And no where is the voice that declares this glory unheard.

Then, David makes his transition to the second part of the Psalm in v. 7, saying “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.” After reading through the first section, the reader is already in a serene imagination as to the splender of the works of God, as well as a contemplation of the mysterious way in which God providentially controls them. And naturally the reader should feel the weight of his own unholiness, and ineptitude. But there is now transformative power in David’s words that gives the reader hope (“restoring the soul.”) And the one activating this transformation is none other than the same God whose glory is preached throughout the heavens. The reader is brought to glorious height here, as he realizes that despite their wretchness, and depravity God through his perfect law brings restoration, enlightenment, wisdom, and rejoicing.

Reflecting on this reality, makes me all the more eager to meditate, absorb, and study the mysterious words that God has communicated to us. Also, it makes me further realize the glorious revelation of The Word, Jesus Christ.

What wonder and profound mystery there is manifested in His incarnation.


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