A Prophecy of the Gospel.
Luther says of this psalm that it is a prophecy of the Gospel as it was intended to go forth into all the world, as wide as the heavens extend, and to be proclaimed and taught both day and night, and not only in the language of the Jews, but in all tongues. To the chief musician, a psalm of David. V. 1. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth, is announcing or extolling, His handiwork. The entire universe reflects the majesty of God’s creative power, and therefore all nature is here personified as a preacher of His omnipotence and providence. V. 2. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge, all nature being engaged in one mighty and uninterrupted sermon and anthem of praise, which will last as long as the change of day and night will continue, all creation being a witness to the majesty of the Creator. V. 3. There is no speech nor language, literally, “Not is there speech, and not are there words,” where their voice is not heard. The message proclaimed by the inanimate creatures everywhere and at all times is of a nature to be clearly discernible to all ears which are not deliberately stopped up. God has always manifested Himself, made Himself known in such away as to be seen and recognized by all who had their eyes and ears open. There is no excuse if men have not understood God’s eternal power and Godhead, Rom. 1, 20. V. 4. Their line, the territory belonging to the sphere of the heavens, as they proclaim the glory of God, is gone out through all the earth, has encompassed the earth, has reached as far as creation extends, and their words to the end of the world. All the inhabitants of the earth are able to hear the announcement and to give glory and honor to the Lord of creation. St. Paul applies these words to the Gospel-message which now has gone out “into all the earth” and its words “unto the ends of the world,” Rom. 10, 18. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun, namely, in the regions of the heavens, v. 5. which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, happy in the possession of the bride whose love gives him strength to cope with the problems of life, and rejoiceth as a strong man, like a valiant hero, to run a race. V. 6. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it, as he completes his course to the western horizon; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof, the beneficial effects of its light and wamth are felt by all creatures. But in addition to this revelation of God in nature He has made Himself known to men in a much more wonderful manner, namely, in the message of the grace of God in Christ Jesus, in the Gospel. V. 7. The Law of the Lord, Holy Writ, the Word of the Lord, is perfect, converting the soul, restoring it to its fullness, to the strength it ought to have; the testimony of the Lord is sure, trustworthy, dependable, making wise the simple. V. 8. The statutes of the Lord are right, straight, without devious bypaths, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; in short, the Word of God, the glorious message of the Gospel, contains in itself the power to sanctify men, for it is the truth, John 17, 17. V. 9. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. The childlike fear and reverence of God is purity, holiness, truth, because it flows out of the Gospel. V. 10. More to be desired are they, the contents of the Word, than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb, the droppings of honeycombs, on account of the incomparably beautiful facts stated in the Gospel. V. 11. Moreover, by them, by these same glorious truths as contained in Scripture, is Thy servant warned, lest he forget their beauties, and in keeping of them there is great reward, namely, the reward of God’s mercy, of the indwelling of the Triune God, John 14, 23. What application will the believer, then, make of the wonderful truths thus presented? V. 12. Who can understand, who can notice, who can keep track of, his errors? How far is the ideal which the Christian holds before him from the reality in which he finds himself! Even the believer still has so many weaknesses that he is hardly conscious of them. Therefore he adds the plea: Cleanse Thou me from secret faults. The reference is to all the transgressions which remain unnoticed, particularly also the guilt of inherited sin. V. 13. Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins, from proud wickedness; let them not have dominion over me, for open transgression will surely drive faith out of the heart; then shall I be upright, perfect, making progress in true sanctification, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression, of the great crime of faithlessness, of apostasy, which to all believers is a horror. It is a work of God’s mercy to keep His servants in true faith and obedience to the end. And therefore the believer prays in conclusion: v. 14. Let the words of my mouth, his sincere prayer, and the meditation of my heart, which dictates the prayer, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength, the Rock of his refuge, and my Redeemer, by whose deliverance he has been kept time and again. Thus every child of God will pray and sing with mouth and heart, in true faith in the Gospel, in firm trust in the redemption earned by Christ, in whom we have both forgiveness and strength for a life of true sanctification.