Theme: The Radiance and Purity of the Word
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
Yesterday we looked at the first three things the Word of God does. Today we consider three more.
4. Being radiant, it gives light to the eyes. This combination of ideas is easy for us to understand, both on the literal and metaphorical levels. Literally, an object that is radiant or gives off light makes vision possible. The sun does it, as well as other sources of light, such as candles or lamps or, in our case, light bulbs, chandeliers or flashlights. Metaphorically, anything that illumines a right life path enables us to walk in it without stumbling. This is the idea here, though it probably also has the idea of purging darkness out of us and thus enabling us to see clearly and without distortion. Psalm 119:105 embraces these ideas when it says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
5. Being pure, it endures forever. Peter Craigie thinks the nuance shifts at this point and that it is proper fear or reverence for God that is said to endure forever.4 But if “fear of the Lord” actually denotes the Scriptures, the effect being substituted for the cause, then it is the Word itself that is described as being pure and, because it is pure, enduring. This is the way most of the commentators take it. Corrupt things decay. That which is pure endures. Since the Word of God is entirely pure, being without any deficiency, error, fault or inadequacy, it along with the God who spoke it is the most enduring of all things. Jesus said, “Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matt. 5:18). He also went on to say, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35).
People have a relative idea of truth today, believing that truth changes from generation to generation and from individual perception to individual perception. But the Bible teaches that truth is absolute and unchanging. It is grounded in the character of God, who is likewise unchanging. A wise person will build his or her life upon it.
6. Being sure and altogether righteous, it warns the servant of God against sin and provides him with great reward. The last of these six statements does not follow the precise parallelism of the other five. Where we expect to read another statement of what the Bible does we find instead the words “and altogether righteous.” The parallelism is still there, however. It is just delayed. In a departure from the established pattern, which enhances the poem and makes it more interesting, the psalmist introduces a personal evaluation of the ordinances of God, saying, “They are more precious than gold, than much fine gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb” (v. 10).
For those who reject the purity and enduring nature of the Word of God, what do such people rely on instead? What does that reveal about their worldview, not only in terms of how they look at life in the present, but also in terms of death and what lies beyond?
How does the sixth point about what the Bible does differ from the other five?
Reflection: How does the Bible serve as your light? In what ways has it directed your life in the past?
4Peter C. Craigie, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 19, Psalms 1-50 (Waco, TX; Word, 1983), p. 82.