I have been prevailed upon rather easily to take a look at Psalm 19 this morning, so open your Bible if you will to Psalm 19. It was many years ago that the Lord introduced me with some measure of depth to this particular psalm. Because I have such a firm commitment to the Word of God, I was attracted to this psalm. It really is Psalm 119 in miniature. It is a profound testimony to Scripture, to the Word of God. And very early on in my ministry, thankfully the Lord allowed me to bury myself in this psalm. And perhaps more than any other specific text of Scripture, this put in the final bolts, locking me down to my commitment to the Word of God. That has been an unwavering life commitment.
It is a strange time in which we live when it comes to Scripture. Through the history of the Jews until the Modern Era, the Jews never questioned the inerrancy of their Old Testament. But it was in the 18th century post-Reformation in the enlightenment, the ascendancy of human reason, the German skeptics and European critics began to attack the Bible.
And here we are a few centuries later trying to live through the devastating accumulated destruction of a low view of Scripture. But it’s new to the history of the church. Without being able to find a passage in the Bible in which the Bible gives a defense of itself, the church still through its entire history to the 18th century affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture. It wasn’t until that assault against the foundations of Scripture that the church began to crumble in tragic reality. That battle was fought and won by great scholars.
The final declaration came in 1978 in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, a great statement. But we have a generation now of people who haven’t fought that battle, and we need to raise the flag and declare there is a battle against the Word of God. And that’s why we’re having the conference. There is no brief section of Scripture that gives a clearer testimony to Scripture’s veracity than the psalm before us, Psalm 19. Let me read it to you.
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words. Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. It rejoices as a strong man to run his course, its rising is from one end of the heavens and its circuit to the other end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring 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, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true, they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold. Sweeter also than honey in the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned. In keeping them there is great reward.
“Who can discern His errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins. Let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless and I shall be acquitted 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.”
Critics have looked at this psalm and said it’s not one psalm, it’s two. The first six verses are one, the final verses 7 to 14 are another. There is no reason to assume that that is true. This is a unified hymn, a unified hymn penned by the inspired writer David. It is a psalm of David. Its divine author is God the Holy Spirit. And in this psalm there is one unified theme and it is this, that God has revealed Himself and His glory.
God has revealed Himself and His glory, and in two ways. First, in verses 1 to 6, He has revealed Himself in His world. And then in verses 7 to 14, He’s revealed Himself in His Word. He has revealed Himself generally in His world. He has revealed Himself specifically in His Word. First, there is a nonverbal revelation and then there is a verbal revelation. There is an unwritten revelation and a written revelation. There is a revelation without words and there is a revelation in words. The theme is unified. This is God revealing Himself in these two ways.
Looking, first of all, at the opening six verses just briefly because that’s not our focus, this is what theologians have called the general revelation of God. By this means through His world, He has put Himself on display so that all can see. God is revealed by the world, the created universe and all that is in it. And the psalmist wants us to see that. He wants us to know that the heavens are telling the glory of God. All of creation does that, but he picks the macro-creation that he knows no one can miss. You could look at the micro-creation, but then somebody might miss that. So he takes that which is most obvious – in fact, which is obvious to every human who has ever lived – the heavens, the heavenly bodies, and in particular the sun.
The sun, the focal point of our existence, the centerpiece from our vantage point of our life and the universe. Every human being sees, feels the reality of the power of and the glory of the sun which puts God’s glory on display. But as the psalmist says, “This happens every day – ” verse 2 “ – day after day after day this is declared. Night after night, this knowledge is revealed. The expanse – ” verse 1 “ – declares with work of His hands. The heavens tell the glory of God.” He uses verbs of revelation there to say God has put Himself on display, revealed, as Paul says, His power and His deity in His creation in the macro way in the universe and the part of it that we are able to see every single day.
“This isn’t in words – ” verse 3 “there’s no speech.” There are no words, there is no voice speaking, and yet this testimony, the line of this testimony has gone out through all the earth. Everybody on the planet understands the heavens, the heavenly bodies, and in particular the sun. The utterance that is without words extends to the end of the world because He has put the sun in the tent of the universe to put Himself on display.
In verses 5 and 6, the psalmist makes some really astounding statements about the sun. He says the sun is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. In all glory, and beauty, and magnificence, and shining brilliance, the sun comes out of its chamber. And it is as a strong man rejoicing to run a course.
The sun has a course. The sun has a course. In fact, its rising, its moving, its motion is from one end of the heavens and its circuit to the other end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. That is not describing the sun rising and the sun setting. That was earlier, day and night. What is this talking about? This is talking about the sun moving through the universe, the sun going from one end of heaven to the other running some kind of circuit, some kind of orbit, through the entire vast universal space.
What is this? Nobody in the ancient world will have any understanding of this. What is this? From the vantage point of the ancients, the sun appeared to sit in one place and the earth moved around it. We now know that’s not true. You may not know, but the sun is always moving at half a million miles an hour, always. And it is moving through an orbit around the Milky Way that is so massive at the speed of half a million miles an hour, it would take 230 million years to complete its orbit, and it is dragging our solar system with it at the same speed. This makes an atheist a fool. That’s why the Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” That’s not even rational.
That’s the revelation of God in His world, and it’s general in the sense that it’s available to all. In fact, it is so obvious and so available that men are, according to Romans 1, without excuse. When they suppress the truth of God they’re without excuse, and that revelation is sufficient to condemn the world to hell. That universal revelation of God in His world is so clear, so unmistakable, and points to the Creator and His deity so that men are without excuse if they do not believe in God it is sufficient to damn them when they suppress that truth which is what men all do.
But then we come to verses 7 to 14. This is not God’s general revelation, but this is His specific or special revelation. This is in words, words that came from the mind of God through the writers of Scripture. This is enough to save. The revelation of God in the world, enough to condemn, enough to damn. The revelation in the Word, sufficient to save, sufficient to save.
That’s why the Bible says there’s no salvation without it. There’s no salvation without the gospel. There’s no gospel without the Scripture. We must have special revelation, specific words that reveal God’s will, that reveal God’s plan, God’s purposes, and God’s way of salvation. And so the psalmist shifts from the world to the Word in verse 7.
And in verses 7, 8 and 9, you have six statements about Scripture, six statements. In a sense they’re parallel statements, six lines of thought: “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring 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, enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true, they are righteous altogether.” Six parallel statements.
Now notice, each of the says, “Of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord, of the Lord,” six times. The covenant name of Yahweh God the Creator is used. Why? Because Scripture comes from God. It is the word of God. It is God-breathed. “God has spoken,” Hebrews 1. “All Scripture is God-breathed,” as Paul writes to Timothy. The Lord is the source so unmistakably that it’s repeated six times so you can’t miss it. This is what the Jews always believed. This is what Christians have always believed that this is not a human book, it is a divine book.
Now there are six titles for Scripture here. It is called law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and judgments. There are six characteristics of Scripture. It is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true. There are six benefits. It restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures forever, and produces comprehensive righteousness. This is an absolutely stunning summation of the full sufficiency of the Word of God. It is paralleled by the 176 verses in Psalm 119 which expand this. Here is God’s own word concerning His Word.
Let’s start at the beginning, verse 7. “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.” This is divine instruction – law, Torah, law. Identify Scripture as divine instruction. Scripture is God teaching man all that he needs to know to live life to its fullest. This is divine instruction. This is the manual sent by the manufacturer so that we know how to live life to its maximum, a complete explanation of God’s will for man’s life in time and eternity. That is the Scripture.
And by the way, all those different titles – law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, judgments – those are like looking at one diamond from facets, different facets, different angles. It’s all the Word of God. It has so many facets. That’s why see those same six words repeated through Psalm 119 over and over and over, and they always refer to the Scriptures. It is the law of God, divine instruction, and as such, he says it’s perfect. James calls it the perfect law, the perfect law.
Well, what do you mean perfect? What do you mean by that? Well you say, “Well, that’s pretty obvious. It means it’s lacking in perfection. It doesn’t have any imperfection.” That’s true. But it’s more than that. This is not perfect as opposed to imperfect. This is perfect as opposed to incomplete.
The Hebrew term has the idea of comprehensiveness. The idea is, one lexicon puts it this way – all-sided – all-sided so as to cover completely all aspects of a thing. The Hebrews would use this when they were meaning to say, “Nothing can be taken from it; nothing can be added to it. It is everything it needs to be.” Then intent is the idea that it lacks nothing, but more importantly, that it possesses everything. It is a comprehensive, flawless set of instructions completely sufficient for men for one end – restoring the soul.
Now let’s stop and talk about soul. That’s the Hebrew word nephesh. It’s all over the Old Testament, and as far as I could count, it’s translated by at least 21 different English words. You can find all kinds of English words in all different English translations – soul, person, self, mind, heart – all kinds of things. But they all refer to the inner person as opposed to the material body. They all refer to the real person, the eternal person. That’s what it’s talking about – divine instruction. Scripture is divine instruction, fully comprehensive and flawless for the soul, for the inner person.
Now let me just stop at this point and say the Scripture is not intended to create a superficial social morality. The Scripture’s design is not that. The design of the Scripture is not to fix temporal elements of human life. The Scripture’s design is to target all its power and all its energy right at the inner person, at the soul. And what does it do? “It restores the soul,” is the NAS. You may have something different. That verb can be translated about five or six ways – revive, restore, refresh, convert. But I think the best one is transform, transform. In fact, it’s such a strong word, it could mean totally transform.
Now we’re getting to the point. The Scripture “from the Lord” is divine instruction that is so complete that it can totally transform the entire inner person. That’s what that one line is saying. It’s a stunning line. That’s just one of six.
The Scripture, utterly sufficient for the transformation, restoration, for the perfection, the conversion, the salvation of the inner person. The Bible is always targeting the soul; and when the soul is transformed, behavior follows in a righteous pattern. That’s why Peter says a New Testament kind of parallel to this, 1 Peter 1: “Being born again,” born again, that’s regeneration, that’s a soul transformation, “not by corruptible seed, but by incorruptible by the Word of God; and this is the Word by which the gospel is preached unto you.” Transformation, new birth, regeneration comes by the Word of God.
Paul says to Titus, “We are washed by the regenerating power of the word.” The Word is the transforming power. I need to remind of us that. It’s not the mechanics of the preacher. It’s not the skill of the preacher. It’s not the cleverness of the preacher. It’s not the strategy. It’s not the slick packing. It is the Word. It is the Word. What an amazing statement. If you want your inner person totally transformed, this is the work of the Word of God, and only the Word of God can do that.
Second statement, verse 7: “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Testimony looks at Scripture as divine testimony, divine witness. First, it was divine instruction in the opening line. Now Scripture can be viewed as divine witness. It is God giving His own testimony as to who He is, and what He wills, and what He requires, and what He will do. And as such, it is sure, it is sure.
I remember years ago wandering around in the LA Public Library and somebody told me how many millions – I forget the number of it – eight or nine million books in the LA Public Library, and I made the observation. But there’s only one of them that’s absolutely true and that’s the Word of God, sure and reliable in every sense, unwavering, unmistakable, able to be trusted, able to be followed. That’s the gilt-edge guarantee from God that you can trust His Word. Follow it. You don’t need to edit it. You don’t need to excise things out of it. You need to follow it. It is a sure word.
Do you remember 2 Peter 1:19? Peter said, “Look, I was on the Mount of Transfiguration. I was there when Moses and Elijah showed up. I was there when Jesus was transfigured. What an amazing experience. I had that experience. It was a real experience. We were with Him when He was glorified. But,” Peter said, “we have a more sure word.”
And what is that more sure word? It is that Scripture which was not by any private origination or interpretation. But holy men wrote as they were moved by the Spirit of God. This is that sure word in contrast to the unsure, unreliable opinions of men. And what does this sure word do? It makes simple people wise. Let me talk about simple.
Hebrew language, very concrete, very kind of earthy, unlike Greek which tends to be philosophical. When it says simple, it is the root word for an open door. A simple-minded person is a person with the door of their mind open. You hear people say, “I have an open mind,” and I want to say to them, “Close it. Close it.” If you don’t have the discernment what to keep out and what to keep in, that’s not a positive, that’s a negative.
You hear people say, “Well, I’m an agnostic.” Really? You shouldn’t be proud to be an agnostic because the Latin equivalent is ignoramus. It’s the same word. I’ve never heard anybody say, “I’m personally an ignoramus.” But if you don’t know, you don’t know. That’s what an ignoramus is. If you have an open mind close it, would you please, before you destroy yourself. Close it.
But how do you know when to close it? How do you know what to let in what to keep out? Psalm 1, the whole book of Psalms begins that way: “How blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, doesn’t stand in the path of sinners, and doesn’t sit in the seat of scoffers. How blessed is the man who shuts the door to all of that and keeps it outside.”
You’re not going to be benefitted by sitting in a classroom with somebody mocking the Bible. You’re not going to be benefitted by running around with a bunch of people who live wickedly in an anti-biblical kind of life pattern. You don’t need counsel from wicked people. Something to be protected in your life, and it’s not your information, you really need a life-lock on your mind. There’s no virtue in exposure to lies and deception.
Psalm 1 also says, “You should delight in the law of the Lord. You should meditate in that day and night and you’ll be like a tree firmly planted by the steams of water which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf doesn’t wither, and whatever he does prospers.” Shut your brain to stuff that’s destructive. Have some discernment. Where are you going to get it? Well, the testimony of the Lord is reliable and takes simple, undiscerning, naïve, uninformed, unexperienced people and makes them chakam, makes them skilled in living.
Again, this is not some kind of an ephemeral idea, this idea of wisdom such as the sophos in the Greek. This is, again, practical. Wisdom to the Hebrew is skill in living, skill in practical living, navigating the world with wisdom. This book takes the naïve, inexperienced, undiscerning, immature, uninformed, ignorant person whose mind is an open door, and everything comes and everything goes, and it teaches him how to shut the door, close the door, be discerning. That’s how you live skillfully, navigate through the world.
Mastering the art of living is accomplished by the knowledge and application of the Word of God. God is always the source of this wisdom and He has laid it out in Scripture. We have here all things that we need to know, all things that we need to know. “Sanctify them by Thy truth; Thy word is truth,” John 17:17. “As babes desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow,” 1 Peter 2:2. Then we come to verse 8. We have seen the Bible as divine instruction. We have seen the Bible in its purest form as having the power to save. And then we have seen it with the power to sanctify, make undiscerning, naïve people skilled in all aspects of living. This divine testimony can do that.
Then we come to verse 8 – two more – “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” This looks at Scripture as doctrines. Precepts are doctrines. These are not suggestions. These are not nice ideas. These are not sort of floating truths that become reality when you existentially experience them. These are absolute truths. They are the precepts, or most translations might say the statutes of the Lord. That’s a very strong word. They are divine doctrines. They’re not just suggestions for life, they are absolute principles for behavior, principles for living life.
People say, “Well, you’re too theological, you’re too doctrinal.” Everything in the Bible is doctrine. Doctrine simply means a truth, a truth, a truth – a truth established, a truth communicated, a truth understood. You don’t want to live your life without that – divine precepts. And so Scripture is divine doctrine and it is right. Now this is not right as opposed to wrong in Hebrew. It’s a right path. So it is doctrine that lays out a right path.
In Psalm 119 we read that the law of the Lord is a light unto my path, a lamp unto my feet. It is a light, it is a lamp, but it’s also the path. It everything. It’s the path, it’s the lamp, it’s the light.
This is the way; walk you in it. This is how you go through life’s maze. This is how you navigate the world. You wander through this dangerous world, this deadly world, this deceptive world, this confused world with all its pitfalls, all the horrors that are out there, and you navigate this thing; and in the process, you do it with a joyful heart because you stay on the right path. Scripture, the doctrines of Scripture, create a right path, a way to think, and a way to walk that produces joy. True joy comes from following God’s Word.
Jeremiah 15:16. Everybody rejected Jeremiah. Everybody rejected the Word of God through him. He said, “Your wordswere found and I did eat them, and Your word was in me, the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” He found joy and he was the only one who obeyed the Word. Everybody disobeyed, everybody rejected him, they threw him in a pit, but the Word was the joy of his heart. First John 1:4, “These things are written that your joy may be full.” First John 1:4, “These things are written that your joy may be full.”
Where do you get your joy? Joy comes from the Word of God applied to in living a right kind of life, walking the right path, “Letting the word of Christ – ” Colossians 3:16 “ – dwell in you richly.” Joy in life is not from what you possess, from what you possess. Man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesses. It doesn’t come from self-indulgence. It doesn’t come from seeking self-gratification, self-promotion. It doesn’t come from some ambition fulfilled. True, lasting, unassailable, impregnable joy comes through the Word of God known and obeyed.
I appreciate what Chris said about the work on the commentaries for the last 34 or so years. But you have to know that from my viewpoint – and what might sound like a lot of work to you – it was sheer joy from start to finish, sheer joy. It is joy every week of my life to study the hours I study to prepare to preach to you, and then to take back a manuscript from a sermon that I preached and work it into a commentary chapter, and then do the editing and put it all together. That’s sheer joy to be preaching all the time and writing all the time keeps me in the Word all the time. And that makes the light on my path clear.
The path is clear, the light is clear, the lamp is clear, and therefore I know how to walk in my life, and therefore it’s just sheer joy, sheer joy. I couldn’t accept any sympathy, not the slightest amount of sympathy for that effort. This is exhilarating experience for me. It may seem strange to you. But whenever I get a new commentary off the press and the publisher sends me a copy, I sit down and I go through it, and I rejoice all over again in the things that I had forgotten that I preached and wrote, and they are new to me – sheer joy.
Luke 11:28, “Happy are those who hear the word and obey it.” That’s real happiness. That’s genuine bliss, genuine joy. When Jesus explained the Old Testament to the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 they said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while He walked with us, and talked with us, and explained the Scripture to us.”
I love the story of the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip in Acts, chapter 8. And after he had been reading Isaiah 53 and didn’t understand it, and Philip explains it to him, and he believed and he was baptized. He went on his way rejoicing because the Word of God had become the path in which he walked. Scripture is our joy.
There’s another statement in verse 8: “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” The commandment of the Lord, that speaks of Scripture as divine decrees, divine mandates. They are authoritative, they are sovereign, they are binding, they are non-optional demands by God on man. Disobedience means judgment and obedience means reward.
These commandments, the NAS says, are pure. But the better translation is clear, clear – loosed, transparent, easily understood, accessible. Theologians would say the perspicuity of Scripture. It’s clarity. It gives clear direction for life.
There are people who would like us to think the Bible is dark and muddy, and ancient and out-of-date, and even irrelevant, and we can’t grasp its meaning because it’s far too old a book. There have been many movements in more modern times against the clarity of Scripture, and yet our Lord expected the unbelieving Jews of His day to understand their Old Testament because He repeatedly said to them, “Have you not read? Have you not heard? Have you not read? Do you not search the Scripture?”
It was all there, it was all clear, and they were all responsible for it. And the writers of the New Testament wrote these massive epistles that we love and cherish, take the epistles of Paul and sent those epistles to Gentiles with no religious history and no Old Testament knowledge and wrote them these profound epistles like the book of Romans and Galatians explaining the intricacies of the doctrines of grace and salvation to a bunch of first-generation believing pagans. There are no excuses for people who don’t understand Scripture, especially those who have been redeemed, and sanctified, and set on a right path, and who are now illumined by the Holy Spirit. No, the commandment of the Lord is clear. It’s clear and it enlightens our eyes. We see. We see the truth.
It really escapes us I think sometimes. We Christians are the only people in the world who see things the way they really are. We get it. We get it. We see it for exactly what it is because we see it biblically. That means we have the mind of Christ. We think about things the way God thinks about things. We understand life and death. We understand origins and consummation. We understand the purposes of God unfolding in history. We understand goodness and evil, sin and righteousness.
We understand, we understand God has to restrain sinners and so we understand how the law of God in the heart and conscience works. We understand the role of family in the world and what happens to a society when family starts to break down. We understand the role of government and what government’s responsibility in the world is, and what happens to the world when that breaks down. We understand the church and the function of the church in the world. We understand what the gospel can do and only the gospel. We understand why people hate the gospel.
When I was asked the other day on a FOX television program, “Why are people persecuting Christians?” I only had two or three minutes to answer that. I could have given them an hour on why Christians are persecuted. I get that. I understand that because Satan, the god of this world hates the truth and hates the gospel, and finds every means possible to persecute the church.
So what’s new, what’s new? They killed Jesus. Jesus said, “They hated Me; they’ll hate you.” We get it. Unfortunately, the people in charge of everything don’t. I wish you were all in charge; the world would be a better place. Well, that’ll happen in the millennium.
Come to verse 9: “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” This looks at Scripture as divine worship; fear meaning worship, or awe, or reverence. It’s a manual on worship. Your Bible is a manual on worship.
Have you ever noticed – and I’m sure you have – when I read the Scripture like I did this morning, what I do after I read the Scripture? I pray, right? And what do I pray when I pray? I pray the Scripture. Why? Because the Scripture is the manual for worship. I pray back to God what He’s revealed. That’s my amen, amen, amen, amen. I’m simply declaring back to God what He has revealed. I’m affirming, I’m confirming my own soul and gathering you all up in that same confirmation.
This is the manual on worship. I wouldn’t know how to worship God without His Word because we have to worship in spirit and in what? Truth. Fear is a metonym for worship; just another way to say worship. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” Proverbs 9:10. Everything starts with a true worship toward God.
So here’s our manual on worship and it’s clean, it’s clean. What does it mean, clean? Free from error. Free from corruption. This, if there is any singular statement that speaks in the Bible of its inerrancy, that’s it. This manual of worship authored by God is free from defilement. It’s free from defilement, free from corruption, free from error, impurity, filthiness, imperfection.
Psalm 12:6 tries to make that emphasis by saying, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tested in a furnace seven times.” Pure. And the evidence? It endures forever. Anything defiled, anything corrupt, anything tainted with sin is tainted with death. This is forever. I know there are people who think the Bible is antiquated, out-of-date, irrelevant. That is not what this is saying.
I remember being in a discussion with some leaders of the “evangelical homosexual church” and there, we were talking about what the Bible says about homosexuality as a sin. And they were saying, “Well, the Bible is sociologically unsophisticated and antiquated. It doesn’t take into consideration the full development of the potential for human relationships, and we have to look at it as an ancient book and irrelevant at many sociological points.”
My response to that is, “Scripture’s own testimony is that it is without error, and therefore, eternal. Every generation, every person, every nation, every nationality, every language, “Not one jot or tittle shall in any wise pass from this law until every bit of it is fulfilled.”
What did I read at the beginning of the Scripture? “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” Do we really believe that or do we think we need to update the Bible? The Word of God, a manual on worship, is free from error; and consequently, it’s eternal.
And then a final statement in verse 9: “The judgments of the Lord are true, they’re righteous altogether.” Judgments means the judications from the divine bench, divine verdicts. The judge of all the earth has recorded in His Word, His verdicts from the Holy Tribunal, and they are true, they are true. Just to say that – I love to say that – the Bible is true, it’s true, absolute truth.
It’s a hard sell, isn’t it today? In an age of relativity and postmodern rejection of absolute truth, it is true. That one simple four-letter word cannot, cannot ever be yielded up by the church. This book is absolutely true. Many people, Paul says, are ever-learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. He calls it science falsely so-called.
This is true. What it says about creation is true. What is says about consummation is true. What is says about sin and righteousness is true. What it says about everything is absolutely true.
Consequently, what is it able to do? The final statement could be translated, “The judgments of the Lord are true, they produce comprehensive righteousness.” This book of truth, complete divine truth, can produce an altogether righteous person. You don’t need anything else.
Listen, listen. This produces comprehensive righteousness. This is it. That’s why it ends by saying, “Do not add to this book.” Revelation 22:18-19, “If you do, it shall be added to you the plagues that are written in it.” It’s sufficient. It is the power of God to transform, to make wise, to give joy, complete understanding. It is eternally relevant. It is absolute truth.
What a gift, right? I mean if you’re looking at life and saying, “What would I want out of life?” you might say, “Wow, I’d sure like to be a different person than I am. I’m sick of my sin,” this book can transform you. “I wish I could navigate life. I wish I knew what to accept and what not to accept.” This book provides that wisdom. “I wish I had joy in the shifting sands of circumstance. I wish I could live above it and have lasting joy.” This book provides that.
“I wish I could see the dark things clearly. I wish I had a deeper understanding of the mysteries of life.” This book does that. “I wish I had something I could go to in every circumstance, in every situation, and know that it was absolutely relevant.” This book is that, and in the end, it is true. There’s nothing else. It is the most valuable, and that’s why the psalmist then says this: “The words of this book are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.”
He’s trying to find words. First he says this is our greatest treasure, our greatest treasure, “More desirable than gold, much fine gold.” Then he says it’s our greatest pleasure. “It’s sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” And then he says it’s our greatest protector. “It’s by the words in this book that Your servant is warned. Thy word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin.”
It’s a book of warning. It’s our greatest provider in keeping the truths of this book. There’s great reward. It is our highest treasure, our highest pleasure, our most protective source of truth. It is the pathway to our greatest reward.
And then he says in all honesty it’s our purifier. We have a hard time understanding our errors. We’re not very good at seeing the sin that’s in us, so we’re liable to stumble into sin. We would miss an awful lot if we didn’t have this book, but this book exposes everything. And so the psalmist says, “Acquit me of hidden faults. Keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me. Then I’ll be blameless and acquitted of great transgression.”
He means apostasy, defection. He says, “I look at my own heart and I would stumble, I would defect, I would become an apostate. I’d wander off if I didn’t have Your book.” It’s everything. It’s everything.
So in light of that, there’s a final commitment in verse 14. This is a prayer. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”
How does this connect? Well, I think he has in mind Joshua 1:8. Listen to what Joshua 1:8 says. “This book of the law,” Scripture, “shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night.” That’s what he just said, didn’t he? “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight.”
Well, what are acceptable words and what is an acceptable meditation? Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night.” That’s an acceptable meditation. So what you’re thinking about and what you’re talking about ought to be what? The Word of God.
That’s like Deuteronomy. That’s like the Shema: “Talk about this when you lie down, stand up, sit down, and walk in the way. Teach it to your children so that you may be careful to do,” says Joshua 1:8, “according to all that is written in it. Then you will make your way prosperous, then you will have success.”
You want a flourishing, spiritually affluent life? Then let the words of your mouth and the meditation of your heart be acceptable in God’s sight. And what is acceptable in God’s sight is that your thoughts and your words are biblical. Think on these things. Let your affections be on things above. You ought to be living in the biblical realm with thoughts and words all the time. Sooner or later, however, it needs to show up in your life; and it will. I promise you it will.
When I was just a young student, I found a little poem by Maud Frazier Jackson. She wrote this: “What if I say the Bible is God’s holy Word, complete, inspired, without a flaw, but let its pages stay unread from day to day and fail to learn they’re from God’s law? What if I go not there to seek the truth of which I glibly speak for guidance in this earthly way? Does it matter what I say?” I’m happy that you would say I believe all this. I’d be more happy if you stayed in the Word. Job said in Job 23:12, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
Father, we thank You that we have been able to look again into this wonderful psalm, have our hearts renewed again to the joy and priviledge of proclaiming this glorious truth. Give us a love for it, never to take it for granted, never to wander away, never to substitute anything else, but to live and move and have our being in Your Word. Therein lies all the blessing. Thank You for giving us such a gift. And we pray that You will use it today to convert souls, to make naïve people wise, to bring joy, to bring clarity, to induce worship, to produce that comprehensive righteousness that honors You. Do Your work, Lord, we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.