Scripture Text – Psalm 19
Many church lectionaries assigns this psalm to be read on Christmas Day, when the “Sun of Righteousness” came into the world (Malachi 4:2) and the “Living Word” was laid in the manger (John 1:14). The emphasis in the psalm is on God’s revelations of Himself in creation, Scripture, and the human heart.
The Word Before Us – God the Instructor (Psalm 19:7–11)
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.
The revelation of God in creation is truly wonderful, but it is limited when it comes to manifesting the attributes of God and His purposes for creation. Following the fall of man, creation has been subjected to futility and bondage (Genesis 3:17–19; Romans 8:20–22), so we need something that reveals more clearly the character and nature of God. That something is the inspired Word of God. When he wrote about creation, David used Elohim (Psalm 19:1), the name that speaks of God’s great power and deity; but when he wrote about God’s Word, seven times he used the “covenant” name Jehovah, for the God of creation is also the God of personal revelation to His people. Israel was a very special nation, chosen by God to receive His law, covenants, and promises (Romans 9:4). “He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation.” – Psalm 147:19-20. The heavens declare God’s glory, but the Scriptures tell us what God did so that we may share in that glory. There is no conflict between what God does in His universe and what He says in His Word. It was by His Word that He created the worlds (Psalm 33:9), and it is by His Word that He controls the worlds (Psalm 33:11; 148:8). David recorded six different names for God’s Word, six attributes of the Word, and six ministries of the Word in the lives of those who receive it and obey it.
Law of the Lord (Psalm 19:7a). This is the Hebrew word torah, which means “instruction, direction, teaching.” Jewish people call the scrolls of the Law “The Torah,” but the word refers to all of God’s revelation. It comes from a word that means “to shoot an arrow,” for a teacher aims to hit the target and achieve specific goals in the lives of the students. Unlike the textbooks that we write, God’s Word is perfect, flawless, and complete. Because human language changes, we require new translations of God’s Word; but the Word of God itself never needs revision or improvement. “Restore” is the same word used in Psalm 23:3 and means “to revive, to give new life.” The Word of the Lord not only has life (Acts 7:3; Hebrews 4:12), but it imparts spiritual life to all who receive it (1 Peter 1:23), and it sustains life as well (Psalm 119:25, 37, 40, 88, 107, 149, 156, 159).
Testimony of the Lord (Psalm 19:7). The Ten Commandments were known by this name (Exodus 25:21), and they are the basis for God’s law. But all of the Scriptures are God’s witness to us of who He is, what He has said and done, and what He wants us to be and to do. The witness God bears of Himself in the written Word is sure and reliable. Through the Word, we become wise concerning salvation (2 Timothy 3:15) and the principles of successful living (Proverbs 2; 8:33; 10:8). The term “simple” used does not mean mentally deficient people or the naïve people who believe everything, but the childlike people who humbly receive God’s truth (Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21–24).
Statutes of the Lord (Psalm 19:8). These are God’s detailed instructions concerning the practical matters of everyday life. For the Old Testament Jew, the statutes related to what they ate, how they dressed, how they kept clean, and so forth. God laid down certain basic laws and commandments, and the statutes applied them to specific situations. The New Testament epistles repeat nine of the Ten Commandments for believers today, omitting the Fourth Commandment, and then gives applications for these principles. (See Ephesians 4:20–32.) Some of the statutes that worldly legislators have passed, both in the past and now in the present, are not right or just and have brought a lot of grief to many, but the statutes of the Lord always bring joy and peace.
To Be Continued