New English Translation
For the music director, a psalm of David.
19 The heavens declare the glory of God;[b]
the sky displays his handiwork.[c]
2 Day after day it speaks out;[d]
night after night it reveals his greatness.[e]
3 There is no actual speech or word,
nor is its[f] voice literally heard.
4 Yet its voice[g] echoes[h] throughout the earth;
its[i] words carry[j] to the distant horizon.[k]
In the sky[l] he has pitched a tent for the sun.[m]
5 Like a bridegroom it emerges[n] from its chamber;[o]
like a strong man it enjoys[p] running its course.[q]
6 It emerges from the distant horizon,[r]
and goes from one end of the sky to the other;[s]
nothing can escape[t] its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect
and preserves one’s life.[u]
The rules set down by the Lord[v] are reliable[w]
and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.[x]
8 The Lord’s precepts are fair[y]
and make one joyful.[z]
The Lord’s commands[aa] are pure[ab]
and give insight for life.[ac]
9 The commands to fear the Lord are right[ad]
and endure forever.[ae]
The judgments given by the Lord are trustworthy
and absolutely just.[af]
10 They are of greater value[ag] than gold,
than even a great amount of pure gold;
they bring greater delight[ah] than honey,
than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb.
11 Yes, your servant finds moral guidance there;[ai]
those who obey them receive a rich reward.[aj]
12 Who can know all his errors?[ak]
Please do not punish me for sins I am unaware of.[al]
13 Moreover, keep me from committing flagrant sins;[am]
do not allow such sins to control me.[an]
Then I will be blameless,
and innocent of blatant[ao] rebellion.
14 May my words and my thoughts
be acceptable in your sight,[ap]
O Lord, my sheltering rock[aq] and my redeemer.[ar]
- Psalm 19:1 sn Psalm 19. The psalmist praises God for his self-revelation in the heavens and in the Mosaic law. The psalmist concludes with a prayer, asking the Lord to keep him from sinning and to approve of his thoughts and words.
- Psalm 19:1 sn God’s glory refers here to his royal majesty and power.
- Psalm 19:1 tn Heb “and the work of his hands the sky declares.” The participles emphasize the ongoing testimony of the heavens/sky.
- Psalm 19:2 tn Heb “it gushes forth a word.” The “sky” (see v. 1b) is the subject of the verb. Though not literally speaking (see v. 3), it clearly reveals God’s royal majesty. The sun’s splendor and its movement across the sky is in view (see vv. 4-6).
- Psalm 19:2 tn Heb “it [i.e., the sky] declares knowledge,” i.e., knowledge about God’s royal majesty and power (see v. 1). This apparently refers to the splendor and movements of the stars. The imperfect verbal forms in v. 2, like the participles in the preceding verse, combine with the temporal phrases (“day after day” and “night after night”) to emphasize the ongoing testimony of the sky.
- Psalm 19:3 tn Heb “their.” The antecedent of the plural pronoun is “heavens” (v. 1).
- Psalm 19:4 tc The MT reads, “their measuring line” (קוּם, qum). The noun קַו (qav, “measuring line”) makes no sense in this context. The reading קוֹלָם (qolam, “their voice”) which is supported by the LXX, is preferable.
- Psalm 19:4 tn Heb “goes out,” or “proceeds forth.”
- Psalm 19:4 tn Heb “their” (see the note on the word “its” in v. 3).
- Psalm 19:4 tn The verb is supplied in the translation. The Hebrew text has no verb; יָצָא (yatsaʾ, “goes out”) is understood by ellipsis.
- Psalm 19:4 tn Heb “to the end of the world.”
- Psalm 19:4 tn Heb “in them” (i.e., the heavens).
- Psalm 19:4 sn He has pitched a tent for the sun. The personified sun emerges from this “tent” in order to make its daytime journey across the sky. So the “tent” must refer metaphorically to the place where the sun goes to rest during the night.
- Psalm 19:5 tn The participle expresses the repeated or regular nature of the action.
- Psalm 19:5 tn The Hebrew noun חֻפָּה (khufah, “chamber”) occurs elsewhere only in Isa 4:5 and Joel 2:16 (where it refers to the bedroom of a bride and groom).sn Like a bridegroom. The metaphor likens the sun to a bridegroom who rejoices on his wedding night.
- Psalm 19:5 tn The imperfect verbal form draws attention to the regularity of the action.
- Psalm 19:5 tn Heb “[on] a path.”sn Like a strong man. The metaphorical language reflects the brilliance of the sunrise, which attests to the sun’s vigor.
- Psalm 19:6 tn Heb “from the end of the heavens [is] its going forth.”
- Psalm 19:6 tn Heb “and its circuit [is] to their ends.”
- Psalm 19:6 tn Heb “is hidden from.”
- Psalm 19:7 tn Heb “[it] restores life.” Elsewhere the Hiphil of שׁוּב (shuv, “return”) when used with נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “life”) as object, means to “rescue or preserve one’s life” (Job 33:30; Ps 35:17) or to “revive one’s strength” (emotionally or physically; cf. Ruth 4:15; Lam 1:11, 16, 19). Here the point seems to be that the law preserves the life of the one who studies it by making known God’s will. Those who know God’s will know how to please him and can avoid offending him. See v. 11a.
- Psalm 19:7 tn Traditionally, “the testimony of the Lord.” The noun עֵדוּת (ʿedut) refers here to the demands of God’s covenant law.
- Psalm 19:7 tn God’s covenant contains a clear, reliable witness to his moral character and demands.
- Psalm 19:7 tn Or “the [morally] naive,” that is, the one who is young and still in the process of learning right from wrong and distinguishing wisdom from folly.
- Psalm 19:8 tn Or “just.” Perhaps the idea is that they impart a knowledge of what is just and right.
- Psalm 19:8 tn Heb “[they] make happy [the] heart.” Perhaps the point is that they bring a sense of joyful satisfaction to the one who knows and keeps them, for those who obey God’s law are richly rewarded. See v. 11b.
- Psalm 19:8 tn Heb “command.” The singular here refers to the law as a whole.
- Psalm 19:8 tn Because they reflect God’s character, his commands provide a code of moral and ethical purity.
- Psalm 19:8 tn Heb [they] enlighten [the] eyes.
- Psalm 19:9 tn Heb “the fear of the Lord is clean.” The phrase “fear of the Lord” probably refers here to the law, which teaches one how to demonstrate proper reverence for the Lord. See Ps 111:10 for another possible use of the phrase in this sense.
- Psalm 19:9 tn Heb “[it] stands permanently.”
- Psalm 19:9 sn Trustworthy and absolutely just. The Lord’s commands accurately reflect God’s moral will for his people and are an expression of his just character.
- Psalm 19:10 tn Heb “more desirable.”
- Psalm 19:10 tn Heb “are sweeter.” God’s law is “sweet’ in the sense that, when obeyed, it brings a great reward (see v. 11b).
- Psalm 19:11 tn Heb “moreover your servant is warned by them.”
- Psalm 19:11 tn Heb “in the keeping of them [there is] a great reward.”
- Psalm 19:12 tn Heb “Errors who can discern?” This rhetorical question makes the point that perfect moral discernment is impossible to achieve. Consequently it is inevitable that even those with good intentions will sin on occasion.
- Psalm 19:12 tn Heb “declare me innocent from hidden [things],” i.e., sins. In this context (see the preceding line) “hidden” sins are not sins committed in secret, but sins which are not recognized as such by the psalmist.
- Psalm 19:13 tn Or “presumptuous sins.”
- Psalm 19:13 tn Heb “let them not rule over me.”
- Psalm 19:13 tn Heb “great.”
- Psalm 19:14 tn Heb “may the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart be acceptable before you.” The prefixed verbal form at the beginning of the verse is understood as a jussive of prayer. Another option is to translate the form as an imperfect continuing the thought of v. 14b: “[Then] the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart will be acceptable before you.”
- Psalm 19:14 tn Heb “my rocky cliff,” which is a metaphor for protection; thus the translation “sheltering rock.”
- Psalm 19:14 tn Heb “and the one who redeems me.” The metaphor casts the Lord in the role of a leader who protects members of his extended family in times of need and crisis.