“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 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. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:12–14, ESV)
In Psalm 19 we read about the intensity of the suns light and how it not only proclaims God’s handiwork, but it also shines its light and warmth on all mankind. We also read about His Word which not only declares the majesty of our God, but also shines its truth on our lives for salvation and growth so that we might know how to walk right before God. As this psalm closes we find the psalmist turning to those faults and sins in himself which might be hidden or presumptuous.
In verse 11 we read that the Word of God serves as a warning to those who submit themselves to His direction in their lives. As we move to verse 12 a rhetorical question is asked. “Who can discern his [man’s] errors?” The obvious answer is God, and from that the psalmist turns to a prayer for his life. Recognizing that he has to deal with his known and exposed sins, David asks God to show to him even the hidden sins, failings, or faults which he might be committing or had committed which needed to be dealt with.
David knew that God knew absolutely everything about him, things which he had no inkling of himself. Repeatedly David asked God to search him and show him those things. In Psalm 139, where we read how intimately God is aware of every aspect of our lives, David closes with “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NASB95)
David wanted his life to be opened by God and exposed so that he might see its darkest corners. In addition to those hidden things which needed to be exposed, David was also sensitive to those areas in which he didn’t even stop and ask for direction. Here we read David asking to be kept back from presumptuous sins. These presumptuous sins are more than just moving forward without asking, but they have the aspect of presuming that you know best and you don’t need to check in with God. It is when we set our path without looking to God who establishes it, and so frequently when we do this we wind up some place where we are left to wonder how we got there.
David’s son, Solomon, learned something about this in writing Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, NASB95)
James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:13–17, NASB95)
David recognized that his life was intended to be lived under the direction of God and not according to how capable he might have felt himself. And so he asked God to not only show him those areas of arrogant living, but also to keep him from them and not to let them have rule over him. In doing this he declared that he would then be blameless and innocent before God and kept away from one thing leading to the next until he strayed far away from where God would have him be.
He closes the psalm with a prayer and a hope that all that he spoke from his mouth or treasured in his heart would be honoring to God and fully acceptable to Him. It is this heart bent toward God that God knew of David when he was still a shepherd and He spoke through the prophet Samuel to the then King Saul, “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:14, NASB95)
From reading God’s Word we know that David sinned and even sinned greatly according to our standards. But in Acts we read this of him, “After He had removed him [Saul], He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’” (Acts 13:22, NASB95) Knowing these things of David and knowing God’s opinion of David gives us great hope. Knowing that Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sins, and through Him all of them are forgiven—past, present, and future—we can find great encouragement ourselves in knowing that God does not turn His back on us. But at the same time, He also expects us to seek after Him with all of our hearts and to lean on Him for His direction in our lives, dealing with sins as they are exposed, and trusting in His Word as the infallible record of what we need to know and how we are to live.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NASB95)
David closed this psalm with, “O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” This is an incredible statement of the unshakable hope that David had in God. And is one that we all can share in and many of us have likely even sung in song.