Theme: Training in Righteousness
In this week’s lessons we continue our study of Psalm 19, and move from God’s revelation of himself in creation to the written revelation of himself in Scripture.
Scripture: Psalm 19:7-14
At first glance, a person might suppose that what I have said about the way David looked at the law is not very important, at least for us today. One might comment, “So what does it matter if David regarded the Scriptures as something to be obeyed rather than merely looking at them stylistically, as we do?” But what David said is not an unimportant matter, however, since what is said about the law in the second half of the psalm depends upon it. In other words, it is because the Bible is God’s law, statutes, precepts, commands, fear and ordinances that it is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure and sure, which is what David says it is. And it is because it is like this that it can do the things David says it does do.
It is the same relationship found in Paul’s well-known description of the Bible in 2 Timothy: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). It is because the Bible is not like other books, because it is “God-breathed,” that it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training us. There are six things David says the law of God does.
1. Being perfect, it revives the soul. The connection between the law’s perfection and its ability to revive the soul is not easy to see at first glance, but it is found in the fact that being perfect means being so complete as to cover every aspect of life. It means that the Bible is not deficient in any way. It is an all-sufficient revelation. Therefore, no matter what our sins may have been or our problems are, the Bible is able to turn us from our sins, lead us through our problems, and both feed and enrich us so that we are able to enjoy the full benefits of spiritual life. Jesus testified to this when he told the Devil, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
2. Being trustworthy, it makes the simple wise. Trustworthy means worthy of trust, and the reason why the statutes of the Lord are worthy of our trust is that they correspond to reality. If we follow the directions of the Word of God, we will find salvation, contentment, joy and eternal life. The one who is open enough to God’s instructions to do that will become wise. On the other hand, the one who thinks himself too wise to adhere to God’s wisdom will show himself to be a fool.
Paul elaborates upon this in Romans, saying that one result of man’s abandonment of the truth of God is that he is given over, to what Paul calls “a lie” (Rom. 1:25). Again, in Corinthians he shows that God has used the apparent foolishness of the gospel to confound the self-proclaimed wise people of this world. “It is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:19-21).
3. Being right, it rejoices the heart. “Right” does not mean correct as opposed to being wrong; that idea is seen more in the word “trustworthy.” “Right” means straight as opposed to being crooked and is linked to the idea of righteousness. The sentence teaches that walking in a straight path or in an upright manner brings joy. Charles Haddon Spurgeon saw a progression in these first three statements which highlights the meaning of this one: 1) conversion, leading to 2) wisdom, leading to 3) joy. He says of the latter: “Free grace brings heart-joy. Earthborn mirth dwells on the lip, and flushes the bodily powers; but heavenly delights satisfy the inner nature, and fill the mental faculties to the brim.”3
How is the Bible’s perfection said to revive the soul?
What does it mean in this psalm for the law of God to be “right”?
How have you experienced joy by walking in righteousness?
Reflection: How does the world’s definitions of wisdom and foolishness differ from those of Scripture?
3C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. la, Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 273.