Note: This post is part of a series exploring Psalm 19 ~ Overwhelming Trust.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts 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,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
David describes many attributes of the law. Many of these attributes are accompanied by a description of what benefit the law has to the one who obeys and follows the words of the Lord. In verse seven we read that the law is perfect.
When I was in high school I used to work at an Oriental rug store. We sold all kinds of rugs from the Middle East, China, and North America. There were many different styles and peculiarities of the different regions. An interesting fact about Afghan rugs and other rugs made in many Islamic countries is that every detail is made to perfection except one spot on each rug. They would purposely make a design flaw, which is usually difficult to notice by a consumer. Their reasoning was that they wanted to honor God, because only God is perfect.
In our text, the psalmist describes “the law of the LORD is perfect” (19:7; ESV). True perfection is only reserved for God and his decrees. This perfect law is accompanied by the phrase, “reviving the soul” (19:7; ESV). Why does a perfect law revive the soul? Because when a person can trust in something that has perfection there is no need to worry. Our souls can be revived if we follow the word of the Lord because the “the law of the LORD is perfect.”
The next line of verse seven describes the word of God as being sure. In other words, the word of God is something that you can count on to be consistent. You can bank on it because it will not fail. The word of God is a testimony that will not lead one astray.
In verse eight we read that the “precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart” (19:8; ESV). The law of the Lord brings justice because it is right and this is why the heart rejoices. People rejoice when a righteous leader leads the government or the nation. People find confidence in their leaders and justices when justice is upheld.
The heart also rejoices because the way of the law is right. The Message picks up this nuance of the verse as it reads, “The life-maps of GOD are right, showing the way to joy” (19; Message). The law of the Lord displays the right way to live. When we live right before the Lord joy comes from our heart.
In the second part of verse eight, the psalmist declares that the “commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (19:8; ESV). The word translated here as “pure” is also translated as “clear” in the NRSV and as “plain” in the Message. The Message delivers the point well, “The directions of GOD are plain and easy on the eyes.” In other words, the law of the Lord is easily seen because of its clear, plain, pure message. It is easy enough to understand. Therefore, it is easy or enlightening for the eyes.
The next three verses state more attributes concerning the law of the Lord. First, we have mention of the fear of the Lord. Once again, the Message is helpful in understanding the text, “God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee” (19; Message). The reputation of God is something that you can bank on. Verse nine goes on to declare that the “rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (19:9; ESV). This once again is a declaration of the confidence that we can have in the law of the Lord.
Verse ten describes the worth of the rules of the Lord. They are better than the wealthiest of things or places. They are better than the most treasured possessions that we might obtain.
In the next verse, we discover that through the words of the law we are warned. Warned about what? We are warned about dangers in living an unrighteous life and we are informed on how to live a righteous life before the Lord. We are warned about the law. We are commended to keep the law of the Lord because “in keeping them there is great reward” (19:11; ESV). We can discover all kinds of beauty and “hidden treasures” (19; Message) of life when we keep the law of the Lord. The law is a guide. This guide will lead us toward the beauty of creation and the path of righteousness.
bringing it all together
These five verses (7 – 11) bring together many of the attributes of the law of the Lord and the benefits of obeying this law. The law of the Lord is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, righteous, more expensive than gold, and sweeter than honey. The benefits of obeying God’s law are a revived soul, wisdom, a joyful heart, enlightened eyes, and a life full of reward.
It is no wonder that David can speak so boldly of the Lord being the redeemer in the last verse. The powerful truth of the law of God informs the confidence for David to declare that God is “my redeemer.”
How is this so?
When one follows the law of the Lord and sees that the attributes of God’s word are true and pure and righteous and one sees the benefits of following the word of God (such as guidance and reward), one may have confidence that they are indeed redeemed by the Lord. The psalmist’s attitude toward the word of God instills his confidence in the Lord being his redeemer.
May we truly have this attitude toward the Word of God and boldly declare that God is our redeemer. May we trust God with an overwhelming trust in His Word.
Lord, let this be so.
I do not grasp the definition of “righteous”…it is used in so many ways and in some many contexts…seem to be noun, verb, adjective, adverb…….if you were to ask me to explain “to be righteous” to live “righteously”, God is a “righteous” God, “righteous indignation”, to live is “righteous” life….i just don’t have a “handle” on that word or expression or action….to be “pure and righteous”….what is that……?