Psalm 19

Oh my goodness, top contender for best psalm ever. Starting the week on a nice positive note of praise. Tomorrow I will look at the question however, is the law of the lord really sweet? I mean sure his mercy and love might be. But his law?

The opening section is indelibly linked with the music of Joseph Haydn in my mind. I sang the soprano line when I was a boy in the choir.

Music of supreme jolliness, effortless complexity contributing to a lightness and simplicity of impact, it a very fine human effort at expressing joy in God’s creation.

It comes to mind, of course, when I marvel at the sky, stars and sun. The psalm celebrates the sun, the endless rhythm of comforting predictability and fresh opportunity in every day bought to life by its warmth. The sun links the planet, each circuit through the sky can be as exciting and new as a bridegroom emerging for his wedding, as awesome as a champion athlete running his course. So simple, so rich. Sometimes just staring at the sky is one of those moments it’s almost impossible to imagine not believing in God. “To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free” as bob Dylan put it.

So then he starts talking about the law. What is the link between the glory of creation and God’s law? Well both of them tell us about God.

We are used to thinking of law as just an unbending set of rules, which it is. With God’s law we also know we have fallen short. Being born into sin, failure was inevitable. So it’s impossible rules.

I blame Jesus. The drama of all those sermon-on-the-mount illustrations about plucking out your eyes if they cause you to sin makes us wary of the law. When your plan for the evening is to illegally download and watch the latest game of thrones, you don’t want to think about the law.

But forget all that for a moment and think about the content of it. Selflessness. Empathy. Love. Care for the weak. Putting people over possessions. Loving your creator and his creation. That is gods law. It’s beautiful. It speaks of a god whose nature is unfailing love.

In the ancient world, David didn’t know Jesus by name yet, though he knew of his grace. All he had in a world that was all about power and winning and grabbing land and looking after your own (unlike ours, ha ha), was the law of the lord. In that context it truly is refreshing and beautiful despite also being holy and impossible. It does speak gloriously of God like the tent of the sky and the warmth of the sun.

thank you for your law father. As honey is the sweet essence of the sun in edible form, so may I see your law as the sweeter essence of you and may I ingest it. On a beautiful shining day, teach me to love my neighbour. Beneath the majesty of the stars, may I remember to love you and be loved by you

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