Tag Archive for 'John Gill'

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,

Precept
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.
Webster

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.

Psalm 131:1 – What a difference a translation makes

Psalm 131:1 ESV
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.

I don’t know what “my heart is not lifted up” or “my eyes are not raised too high” means.

Psalm 131:1 TNIV
My heart is not proud,
Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

TNIV clarifies this by indicating that it’s about pride and haughtiness. But are we not supposed to think of great matters or strive to concern ourselves with wonderful things that may for now be too wonderful for us to understand?

Psalm 131:1 NASB
O LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.

Even NASB is more clear on a couple of these things.

Psalm 131:1 HCSB
Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not get involved with things
too great or too difficult for me.

I’m kind of surprised that HCSB uses the archaic word haughty. How about arrogant or egotistical?

Psalm 131:1 MSG
GOD, I’m not trying to rule the roost,
I don’t want to be king of the mountain.
I haven’t meddled where I have no business
or fantasized grandiose plans.

This is a nice interpretation of what the meaning may be.

John Gill on v. 1b:
neither do I exercise myself in great matters; or, “walk” (m) in them; these were not the subject of his employment and conversation; he did many great things, in killing the lion and the bear that came into his father’s flock; in slaying Goliath with a sling and stone only; in leading out the armies of Israel, and slaying his ten thousands; and he exercised himself in the great things of the law, which he was careful to observe, and studied the great things of the Gospel, which he had the highest esteem of, and desired to understand; but he did not seek human greatness, or the great things of this world, for himself; he had no ambitious views, or was desirous of the kingdom he was anointed to, before the proper time; see 1 Samuel 18:18;

or in things too high for me: or “too wonderful” (n); see Job 42:3. He contemplated the wonderful make and frame of his body, the texture, symmetry, and use of each of its parts; he observed the wonderful providences of God towards him ever since he had a being; and particularly he took notice of the wonderful love of God to him, and remembered and talked of, and declared, the wonderful works of grace and redemption; but not things above his capacity, out of his reach, and which are secret, or not clearly revealed: and such things we should be content to be ignorant of, or not to have adequate ideas of, or be capable of accounting for;

Related Scripture:

Romans 12:3 HCSB For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.

1 Corinthians 3:18-20 HCSB
No one should deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish so that he can become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written: He catches the wise in their craftiness — 20 and again, The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are futile.

Philippians 1:9-10 HCSB
And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ,

(Emphasis added)

Philippians 2:21 HCSB
all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 119:92 with a surprise ending

Most translations of Psalm 119:92 go something like this:

If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction. (TNIV)

To me the word perish means to pass away, die a physical death, be destroyed etc.

Matthew Henry says:

He was in affliction, and ready to perish in his affliction, not likely to die, so much as likely to despair; he was ready to give up all for gone, and to look upon himself as cut off from God’s sight; he therefore admires the goodness of God to him, that he had not perished, that he kept the possession of his own soul, and was not driven out of his wits by his troubles, but especially that he was enabled to keep close to his God and was not driven off from his religion by them.

John Gill says:

must have perished, not eternally, but as to his comforts: his heart would have fainted in him, and he would have sunk under the weight of the affliction, had it not been for the relief he had from the word of God, the doctrines and promises of it;

So what is the only translation I found that conveys the meaning of this verse to me?

If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so,
I would have given up when the hard times came.
Psalm 119:92 The Message

I’ll just say that I don’t like The Message a lot, to put it in my vernacular. I’ve never seen a single verse or passage quoted that I liked until now. This is the only translation I found that conveys the meaning to me. Let’s just keep this between you and me. I know as of now there are about 6.7 trillion people who don’t read this blog.

For more reading:
C.H. Spurgeons’s The Treasury of David