Summary: Psalm 19 leads us through an understanding of the Inerrancy of Scripture, showing that: 1) God is Perfect in His Nature(Psalm 19:1-6), 2) God is Perfect in His Word (Psalm 19:7-10) 3) God Perfectly Guides through His Word (Psalm 19:11-14)
One of the common controversies in athletic competition is judging. This year at the Olympics in Sochi Russia, there was a report from the French media of a judging pact in figure skating between the Russian and American judges. Figure skating continues to have accusations of judging scandals because of so many subjective elements. When success in the competition relies on things like “artistic merit”, then there can be a great deal of discrepancy and room for error.
When we judge the word of God, we have a lot more than “artistic merit” in consideration. We can consider fulfilled prophecy, archeological evidence, reports from hostile sources, concurrence between authors, and many other criteria in order to validate reports. The description of scripture as being free from error, is called “inerrancy”. It reflects the clear, true accurate manifestation of God.
God has manifested himself clearly. His great power is seen in the created world around us. But the revelation that comes from that display of his power is not in words. For revelation in words, we have to turn to the Scriptures, which are indeed the Word of God. Both forms of revelation are celebrated in this nineteenth psalm, though the focus is more on the wonder and beauty of God’s Word. It begins with reference to the demonstration of God’s power in the natural world (v.1-6) before changing to the perfection of His law (v.7-14). That change is marked by the use of the covenantal name for God—‘Lord’ (yhwh), used seven times in the second major section, while in the first it is absent. Instead, the general name ‘God’ (ʾêl) is used in verse 1, followed by the appropriate personal pronouns in the following verses. The point is clearly that while natural revelation points to God, yet a more complete and redemptive knowledge only comes through the divinely given word.
Why don’t people recognize God? Sin causes distortion, and it is only through the aid of God’s Spirit that we can see clearly God’s revelation of himself. But with God using human instruments to write scripture, how can we be sure that human sinfulness and error did not corrupt the writing?
Psalm 19 leads us through an understanding of the Inerrancy of Scripture, showing that:1) God is Perfect in His Nature(Psalm 19:1-6), 2) God is Perfect in His Word (Psalm 19:7-10) 3) God Perfectly Guides through His Word (Psalm 19:11-14)
1) God is Perfect in His Nature (Psalm 19:1-6)
Psalm 19:1-6 [19:1]The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims is handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, 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 there is nothing hidden from its heat. (ESV)
The beautifully balanced opening sentence sets the theme for the first section. The first part of the verse has the subject (‘the heavens’), the verb (‘declare’), and the object (‘the glory’). Then in typical Hebrew poetic style it has parallel expressions in the second half with the word order reversed (object, verb, subject). The created world declares in an ongoing way the glory of God. Its testimony is never finished. The verbs “declare” and “proclaim” are participial forms, expressive of the continuous revelation of the heavens, and could be translated “keep on declaring … keep on proclaiming.”. What you find here is the distinction between continual revelation from nature that will be contrasted with completed revelation from scripture. (Willem A. VanGemeren. Psalms: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, volume 5. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 191)
David, as a shepherd, had experienced many nights under the open sky, in a land where a myriad of stars are visible and especially brilliant. It would never have entered his thinking that such could have existed by chance, but that all of nature bears testimony to the divine. Whatever forces might be at work in the cosmos, above all and controlling all, was אֵל, (El, “God,” “powerful one”), and the love of the psalmist was directed, not in some abstract sort of way to nature itself, but to God. All of creation is viewed as his handiwork, testifying to his greatness, showing forth his glory, inspiring his creature to sing his praise. (Tesh, S. Edward (Samuel Edward), Psalms: The College Press NIV commentary. Old Testament series. College Press Publishing Co. 1999)
The second verse continues the same idea and does so with similar poetic artistry. Day to day the message of creation bubbles forth. Night to night the majesty of the stars is a witness to the creator. Creation cannot contain itself, but constantly proclaims the glory of God. The heavenly bodies are not divine (Deut. 4:19; 17:3), nor do they have control over human destiny.2