Psalm 19:7-141NIV New International Version Translations
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
We do not know when David wrote this Psalm. Perhaps it was one morning when he had been out all night with his sheep. He saw the sunrise over Moab. What David saw spoke to him about God. David remembered the stars that he saw at night. God made the stars. In the morning David saw the sun. God made the sun. All that David saw told him about God. He heard no words, there was no language. But David knew that everything was telling him about God.
What David saw also made him think, “Am I a good or bad man?” He prayed that God would forgive him. David was, perhaps, sitting on the top of a great rock. That spoke to him about God as well! God was always like a rock to David. So David called God “My Rock”. He also called God his Redeemer.
Now look at verses 7 – 11. Can you find the name “God” in it? No, because here God has a different name. Here he is the LORD. This is the name that people use when they decide to follow God. He becomes their LORD. This part of the psalm is not about the book of nature. This is really about the book that we call the Bible. For David, it was not just a picture, it was God’s Words to give us help.
So, how do we use the books about God? In the book of nature we learn how great God is. We learn that He is wonderful and the same time we are in “awe”. This makes us want to tell God that he is wonderful. We call this “worship”. The other book is the Bible. It tells us how to follow God, and make him our LORD.
Verses 12 – 14 tells us how to start following God.
Items for Discussion
- What does it mean to call someone Lord?
- How would you expect to be treated by a “Lord?”
- Verses 12 through 14 are instructions on how to follow God – What do those instructions mean to you?
- Why is it so hard to “discern our own errors?”
- Since God already knows us, how then do we get to know God?
- If God becomes someone’s “Lord,” what changes would you expect in their lives?
4b If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Luke described the city called Philippi as a Roman ‘colony’ (Acts 16:12). The emperor Augustus allowed retired soldiers to live there after they had supported him in a battle in 31 BC. As a Roman colony, its citizens possessed the same rights and laws as those who lived in Italy. Paul and Silas, with Timothy and Luke, established the church there after they crossed from Asia into Europe (Acts 16:12-40). Paul visited Philippi again on his third journey (Acts 20:1-6). It was a group of Christians of whom Paul was very fond. He called its members his ‘joy and crown’ (4:1). The Christians in Philippi were not rich, but they supported Paul with more than one gift of money. They also gave money for the poor Christians in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
The Philippians also felt a very deep affection for Paul. They were interested in what he had to say to them about Christ. The scope of this letter is to confirm to them that they were part of Christ’s family of faithful followers, to encourage them to walk the gospel of Christ, to caution them against teachers who might try to modify Christ’s true message to fit Judaism, and to express gratitude for their financial support. This letter is the only one, among those written by Paul, in which no complaints against them were implied or expressed. It is filled with commendation and confidence in every part.
Verse 7 Paul had known the Jewish religion completely. But after Christ met him, Paul gave up the advantages of his religion as worth no more than bad debts.
Verse 8 Paul had not made a sudden decision that he was sorry about afterwards. He still thought in the same way. He emphasised that he now considered ‘everything else’ as without value. To know Christ was far more valuable. To ‘know’ Christ Jesus meant more than knowledge of the facts about him. Paul meant a close personal friendship with Jesus. Paul usually wrote ‘our’ Lord. Here he said ‘my’ Lord. He was thinking how much Jesus now meant to him. ‘He loved me. And he died for my benefit’ (Galatians 2:20).
Verse 9 Paul did not possess any goodness of his own. A right relationship with God did not come by obeying the Law of Moses. It came as a gift from God that Paul accepted by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul looked forward to the day of judgment when he would be in Christ. He would be completely united with Christ in heaven.
Verse 10 His one aim was to ‘know’ Christ in this close way. He shows this in three ways:
- ‘The power that raised him from death’. God has raised Jesus Christ from death. Also God raises the believer together with Christ, from spiritual death to new life (Ephesians 2:5). Paul wanted to live with the power of the risen Christ in his life.
- To share in Christ’s pain and troubles. Pain and troubles can be spiritual, when we struggle against sin. They can also be the result of those who oppose the gospel. Paul suffered from the enemies of Christ and from the way that even Christians did not understand him. His travels also brought difficulties and dangers (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). Paul thought that his pain and troubles for Jesus were an honor because he was sharing in Christ’s work.
- ‘By sharing in his death’. Of course, Christians will not all die in the same way as Christ did, on a cross. This verse does not mean that. It means that they must think of themselves as dead to sin (Romans 6:11). They must ‘die’ to their own desires. ‘The people who belong to Christ Jesus have destroyed the power of their old character’ (Galatians 5:24).
Verse 11 Paul’s hope that he would rise again after his death. Paul did not doubt that he would rise from among the dead people. He knew that nothing could ever separate him from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). As a believer, he already possessed eternal life. But there is a future resurrection in glory to which he looked forward.
Verse 12 Paul knew that he had not yet become perfect, that is, mature as a Christian. He would be like that at the final resurrection. When Christ ‘grasped’ Paul on the road to Damascus, he had a great purpose for Paul’s life (Acts 9:15-16). Paul was doing his best to ‘grasp’ and to carry out that purpose.
Verse 13 ‘My brothers and sisters’ emphasizes what Paul is going to repeat. He does not want the Christians at Philippi to believe false doctrine. Some of the Christians in Philippi said that they were already perfect. They denied that people need discipline in the Christian life. But Paul himself had not completely succeeded in the work that Christ had given him to do. And Paul knew that.
Verse 14 A runner who reached the line at the end of the race received a reward from the judge. The judge sat above the area of the race. After the race, the judge ‘called up’ the runner to receive his prize. Paul compares his call to come up to the life above to the judge’s call. Paul’s prize when he has finished his ‘race’ of faith will be perfect friendship with Christ. God will call him to enjoy the glory of heaven for ever.
Items for Discussion
- Why was Paul’s use of a sporting event with a prize at the end a good analogy for the Christian life?
- Why was it important for Paul to tell his own story to the church in Philippi?
- Which do you find as the greater gift, Christ’s death or resurrection? Why?
- Why is Paul saying not to look back but to look only forward? Don’t we learn from our mistakes?
- Paul seeks righteousness – What is that?
- Paul emphatically states his “righteousness” does not come from the law but from faith in Christ – How does that work?
- How do we help people get to know Christ?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations