Reflections on Psalm 19:7-10

I take this [Psalm 19] to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.

–C.S. Lewis

In memorizing the second half of Psalm 19 I wanted to get a good understanding of the terms used for God’s revelation of Himself through the many facets of his instruction to us. I don’t own a commentary on the Psalms in book form but the commentaries from Matthew Henry, John Gill, Adam Clarke, Charles Spurgeon, Keil & Delitzsch, John MacArthur (from a sermon) and Derek Kidner (from the library) more than suffice.

Even after reading through all of them I still feel like I’m still just beginning to mine the depths of what this text offers (not to mention Psalm 119!). So I would like to write down a synopsis of just these verses based on commentaries and my own thoughts and observations to further embed these ideas in my brain and cause me to ponder further.

Don’t take this as a scholarly paper. It’s just what I’m learning so far. Comments are welcome.

Psalm 19:7a (HCSB used for all)
The instruction of the Lord is perfect,

The HCSB uses the word instruction for tôrâh instead of the usual law here so as not to confuse it with only the law of Moses or the Decalogue (ten commandments). ” תֹּורָה [tôrâh] does not in itself mean the law, but a pointing out, instruction, doctrine or teaching”. (K&D) It’s a complete divine instruction of God’s will for man’s life and conduct.

On a side note, the Bible isn’t just an instruction manual for us. It’s so much more than that. It’s God revealing Himself, His purposes, how He has dealt with people and His redemption story. How much more wonderful this is than a mere instruction manual.

Since God does not reside in our constraint of time, His law is timeless and includes the gospel message and all of His revealed word to us, not just the law as it was revealed up to the time of David when he wrote this Psalm. It’s somewhat prophetic in that way.

Regarding the word perfect John MacArthur says, “I remember the first time I studied Psalm 19, many, many years ago, I wanted to really know what perfect meant. So I went back and I got all the Hebrew lexicons off my shelf and I remember spending several hours chasing this word ‘perfect’ all over the place, trying to wring out of it everything that I could so I would have a grasp of it. And after many hours of study, I came to the conclusion that what it means is perfect. A bit disappointing after all the effort, but that’s exactly what it means…perfect.” He qualifies that as meaning–not as opposed to imperfect but as opposed to incomplete.

The law of the Lord is sufficient for “everything we need for life and godliness”. (2 Peter 1:3)

Psalm 19:7b
reviving the soul;

Restoring, reviving, refreshing, or converting; turning to God or back to God. In any case, transformation takes place.

Psalm 19:7c
the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,

I think that some of the obvious examples of His testimony are what He has said audibly about Himself and His Son. But more comprehensively it is God disclosing His character, His will and His nature–who He is. (cf. 1 John 5:9)

You can know that what He says about Himself is trustworthy. Believing He is who He says he is–this is vital for trusting Him and making it through hard times. (Psalm 119:92 MSG)

But what kept me going more than anything else was my confidence in the character of God.

–Ravi Zacharias quoting Charles Cooper in the book Cries of the Heart

Psalm 19:7d
making the inexperienced wise.

The underlying Hebrew word for simple (inexperienced) means wide open, as in an open door; people who are easily led one way or another. For those who are simple, or inexperienced in the ways of the Lord, His testimony is trustworthy in making them wise for living in a manner skilled in walking in His ways and for salvation. (2 Timothy 3:15)

Psalm 19:8a
The precepts of the Lord are right,

1. In a general sense, any commandment or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; but applied particularly to commands respecting moral conduct. The ten commandments are so many precepts for the regulation of our moral conduct.

Synonyms for precepts would be commandments, decrees or statutes, which many other translations use.

All of His precepts are always right and always leading people in righteousness and in the right path. (Proverbs 8:8) They are always well meaning and for our well-being.

Psalm 19:8b
making the heart glad;

Having His precepts written on our hearts leads us to a right mind which gives us joy. They satisfy our desire for morality.

Retire and read thy Bible to be gay.

–Charles Spurgeon

Psalm 19:8c
the commandment of the Lord is radiant,

HCSB and TNIV use the word radiant, some clear, most others pure. The commandment itself is pure, not adulterated by any person. It also purifies us.

I would guess that the word radiant is used because light is pure. It may also be looking forward to the next line. (Comments?)

Psalm 19:8d
making the eyes light up.

His commandment gives us discernment to see what’s earthly and what’s spiritual; what is of the world and what is of true value. It gives us understanding not only externally but internally–showing us our own sin. (Proverbs 6:23)

Psalm 19:9a
The fear of the Lord is pure,

His instruction taken to heart causes us to fear, venerate, reverence and be in awe of the Lord. Its purpose is to purify (John 15:2-3), as purified silver or gold.

Psalm 19:9b
enduring forever;

The fear of the Lord is perpetual. The coming of Jesus does not and should not alter our fear of the Lord, even though Jesus calls us friends. (John 15:14) The fear of the Lord is in opposition to all false ways of reverencing (or not reverencing) Him.

Psalm 19:9c
the ordinances of the Lord are reliable

The ordinances or judgments of the Lord are unquestionable and need no excuse to justify them. All that He has decided is right and proper.

Psalm 19:9d
and altogether righteous.

Any one of them or all of them together are righteous. They are all alike in their righteousness. Clarke would say that, “they are truth [reliable] and righteousness united.” Spurgeon, “no exception may be taken to a single clause separately, or to the book as a whole.”

Psalm 19:10
They are more desirable than gold-
than an abundance of pure gold;
and sweeter than honey-
than honey dripping from the comb.

Here obviously each idea is intensified. My mind thinks of them as being not only more valuable than money, but more money than we would know what to do with.

I haven’t done a lot of research on honey but obviously honey is sweet. Honey dripping from the comb is very different than the honey we would get at the store. Clarke says honey from the comb has, “a sweetness, richness and flavour, far beyond what it has after it becomes exposed to the air.”

God’s instruction is more satisfying than any earthly pleasure we can imagine. This is the truth. Is this my estimation of God’s Word? I pray that it will be, and more and more so.

7 Responses to “Reflections on Psalm 19:7-10”

  1. 1 Nathan W. Bingham

    Some good reflections.  An important point is that v. 7 begins the contrast of God’s Word (special revelation) with that of God’s Creation (general revelation) found in v.1-6 – and we know general revelation can’t save anyone, but only leave us without excuse, whereas God’s special revelation, His Word, can “restore the soul”.A great sermon I heard on this was preached by my Co-Blogger at Cal.vini.stIt is free to download. God Has Spoken – Part 1 & God Has Spoken Part 2.

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    Thanks for the comment and links. I’ve download the sermons and will listen to them sometime.

    The post got pretty long so I didn’t make any general comments on the whole Psalm or its divisions but I’m glad you mention it.

    This was by far the most time I’ve ever spent working on a blog post and it was by far the most rewarding for me.

  3. 3 Nathan W. Bingham

    I’m sure you’ll be blessed from the sermons, especially with Andrew’s Australian accent.  :)It is great spending time, working through His Word – it is so enriching.  Being disciplined to put it together in a post adds another dimension to it as well.  I’m glad blogging is serving to edify you, and I’m sure your readers too.

  4. 4 James Moran

    Vs. 7 references God’s “perfect” law and I think He did that purposefully with knowledge of how the pagans would try to interprest verse 6. Verse 6 states of the sun: “His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” Pagan scientists/theologians love to scorn this verse, and in doing so, show their ignorance even further. They inaccurately represent this verse as teaching the pagan belief that the sun goes around the earth rather than the earth rotating around the sun, and claim that the Bible authors adopted this belief.  Funny enough, these scorners show their foolishness by making such comments that are “intellectual light years” behind the Almighty God who created the sun which he described in verse 6. The sun in fact does revolve in a circle on the end of the heaven but not around the earth as the pagan scorners claim this verse teaches (this verse doesn’t say the earth anywhere, but instead the heaven). The sun rotates around the center of the heavens which we call the Milky Way galactic center. The sun is going around these heavens in a full circle every 200-250 million years at a speed of half a million miles per hour … aren’t you glad God is in control? 🙂 . The sun is said to be 283,815,000,000,000,000,000 miles away from the center of the Milky Way. The pagan scorners can’t refute the “perfect law” of God once the facts are presented. Pagans think they get smarter in their science as they step from stories of Zeus and Thor making thunderstorms to beliefs that men came from monkeys, but each time they continue to show their foolishness, while God has them in derision and laughs the wicked to scorn in their feeble attempts to deny His existence.  See photos of the sun revolving around the Milky Way online if you google for “milky way” “sun” “revolving”. (sorry for the length of this message)

  5. 5 Scripture Zealot

    I did not know that. Thanks for the info.

  6. 6 Cheryl Ching

    Thank you very much for sharing your reflections.

    I like what you said here:

    I wanted to really know what perfect meant. So I went back and I got all the Hebrew lexicons off my shelf and I remember spending several hours chasing this word ‘perfect’ all over the place, trying to wring out of it everything that I could so I would have a grasp of it. And after many hours of study, I came to the conclusion that what it means is perfect. A bit disappointing after all the effort, but that’s exactly what it means…perfect.” He qualifies that as meaning–not as opposed to imperfect but as opposed to incomplete.

  7. 7 Scripture Zealot

    You’re welcome and thank you for stopping by and for the compliment, which was a quote except for the last part. I like it too.

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