As the children of God, our goal in life is to be sinless.
That means we are seeking to be imitators of God, to follow and live out the example of His Son Jesus in the ways and truths the Bible communicates. As Christians, we are all disciples of Christ and we therefore seek to imitate him, his life, truth, his attitudes and his desire to always do the will of the Father.
We are all aware that this is a lofty goal and that we will fail at times. (In fact, the more we recognize the holiness of God, the more we realize how far short we fall of being like him.) The good news is that as long as this is our goal and we are striving every day for that perfection, we confess our weakness, and our sinfulness and by His grace and mercy God promises to continue to forgive us.
As an essential part of that goal, we seek to make the words of our mouths and the thoughts of our hearts pleasing in the sight of God. Our actions begin with our thoughts and our thoughts are controlled by what we put into our minds.
So, to walk in his light, we must fill our minds with His light, the things of God, the things which are right, pure, wholesome and lovely. This means we must be ever so very careful of spiritually dining on the things of this world; the ungodly entertainment that fills the radio, television, internet and other forms of media. As a man thinks in his heart; so is he. As his heart beats so his life beats away.
We are covenanted by God to daily desire more and more of Him in our lives. As we make this our greatest desire, our most sincere effort, our heart is changed. It beats not in tune with the godlessness of the world but with God’s true life.
Is that not what we should most desire – a heart which beats to keep us upright and living? A sin corroded; sin sickened heart will die and leave us in our graves. There has to something, someone, somewhere to be more desired than a grave.
David provides us with his insights through these final verses from Psalm 19.
Psalm 19:12-14 English Standard Version
12 Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
So far, we have looked at what Psalm 19 teaches us about how creation recounts the glory of God and we have looked at and studied what Psalm 19 teaches us about the other book God has written, the Bible. Specifically, David praises the beauty and the perfection of the Law in Psalm 19, which raised an important question for us: As Christians, how should we read and understand the Law?
I recently heard someone helpfully explain the Law like this: Before we came to Christ, the Law was our enemy because it exposed our sin and our guilt before a holy and righteous God. But after we came to Christ, the Law became our friend because we have no better teacher than the Law for learning how to desire God to the utmost and to please the God whom we have come to know and to love.
This is what David explains in the final verses of Psalm 19
Let’s break this down into a few guiding principles to help us interpret this.
David Uses the Law to Expose His Sin, Not to Forgive It
The first thing I pray we each recognize about what David does in this prayer is that he isn’t citing the Law as evidence for his innocence.
He isn’t pointing to the Law and saying, “O LORD, my rock and my redeemer, I am innocent from hidden faults and blameless before you!”
He understands that he hasn’t yet achieved perfection under the Law.
In fact, he assumes that he has faults that are “hidden” from him.
The word used here for “errors” describes a sin that is committed in ignorance (e.g., Lev. 4:13 or Job 6:24).
The fact that the sin happened unintentionally doesn’t make it acceptable, but that kind of sin wasn’t judged as harshly as sins that were committed willfully.
David’s relationship to the Law is to use it as a “diagnostic tool” to find out where he is still guilty, and not as justifying tool to proclaim himself innocent.
This is the main contention of the New Testament writers to write strongly against the wrong use of the Law. It is not that they are rejecting the Law altogether, but they absolutely reject any idea that we can use the Law as a platform to declare ourselves righteous. The Law simply doesn’t work that way.
The only way for anyone to be saved—at any point throughout salvation history—is through their sincere heartfelt confession faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.
People like David didn’t necessarily know or comprehend the details of who Jesus would be, so they were required to have faith that God would fulfill his covenant promises, but we do know what God has done to save his people.
He sent his Son Jesus to be born under the Law so that he could fulfill the Law, perfectly obeying the Law in ways that we could not and suffering under the full weight of the curse of the Law in our place, as we ever so righteously deserved.
Jesus is our only hope for salvation—not the Law.
David Longs for Communion with God
So instead of misunderstanding David as a legalist, let’s listen more closely to his real desire.
David wants to be blameless…
In these final verses, he pleads for God to help him to discern his ignorant sins so that he can be declared innocent from hidden faults.
(The word for “hidden” is the same word used to describe how there is nothing “hidden” from the sun’s heat in Psalm 19:6.)
Then, he asks God to graciously hold him back from presumptuous sins. And finally, he pleads that every word of his mouth and meditation of his heart would be “acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
But why? What’s David’s motivation behind his desire for blamelessness?
Quite simply, David longs for everlasting communion with God.
In the context of the whole Psalm, here is what is happening.
David is first standing in awe of God’s majesty and glory as he listens to the praises of creation.
Then, as he reads, studies and prays Yahweh’s Law and finds it to be perfect, reviving, sure, etc., he wants nothing more than to know the God of creation who has crafted such a perfect Law.
There is wisdom found here, and David wants to know the wise God who gave this Law—to know this God is the great reward David mentioned in Psalm 19:11.
David wants to be accepted by this God: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” He wants to be embraced by God and to know him better and better.
Union vs. Communion
This isn’t the same thing as being justified by God.
David doesn’t embrace the Law in order to make himself righteous before God, because he knows only God can make sinners righteous, by grace through faith.
Our union with God was established perfectly at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the ebbing and flowing of our obedience and holiness before the Lord can do nothing to affect it.
Theologians, however, make an important distinction between our union with God and our communion with God.
Think about it like a marriage.
If you had an affair, that wouldn’t automatically sever your union with your spouse. Legally, you would still be considered married to your spouse unless you both went through the divorce proceedings to break that union.
But an affair would absolutely destroy the communion you have with your spouse. Even if you tried to cover it up, that violation of your spouse’s trust would be an onerous burden on any kind of relational intimacy you might have otherwise had until you were both able to somehow work with God through it.
Our union with Christ is inviolable, and there is nothing that we could ever do to destroy it. Even the most severe spiritual adultery is something that Jesus Christ has already died for, and he extends grace to us through the victory he won over sin through his resurrection.
Shout this to whoever will hear it:
There is more than sufficient grace for even the very vilest of sinners! Nothing you do can separate you from the love that God has for you in Jesus Christ!
But our communion with Christ can absolutely change over the course of our lives. Sin clouds our intimacy with him, and what David teaches us here in these verses is to learn to love the Law of God as a tool for exposing our hidden faults as well as illuminating the imminent danger of presumptuous sins.
David is not interested in blamelessness for its own sake, or for the sake of trumpeting his own “not so high and mighty” righteousness to the world.
His goal is simply this, he wants to be blameless so that nothing at all will stand between his heart, his soul, his God—that is, between his Rock and Redeemer.
Or as Charles Albert Tindley would later write … (1906)
1. Nothing between my soul and my Savior,
naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure;
Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between my soul and my Savior,
so that his blessed face may be seen;
nothing preventing the least of his favor;
keep the way clear! let nothing between.
2. Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
habits of life, though harmless they seem,
must not my heart from him ever sever;
he is my all, there’s nothing between.
3. Nothing between, like pride or station;
self or friends shall not intervene;
though it may cost me much tribulation,
I am resolved, there’s nothing between.
4. Nothing between, e’en many hard trials,
though the whole world against me convene;
watching with prayer and much self denial,
I’ll triumph at last, there’s nothing between.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
O Lord, my God and my Father, I thank you for revealing your Living Word. Lord of wisdom, I sometimes finding understanding the Bible to be difficult. I know you want me to apply your word to my life. I thank you for giving me your word so I can grow in my relationship with you. Help me grasp what you want me to know as I read your revealed word. Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. Be my teacher, so I can live and obey your word. Thank you for your wise advice. Amen.