PSALM 19: A Psalm About The Sufficiency Of Scripture


Psalm 19 provides one of the very best descriptions on the sufficiency of Scripture in all of the Bible, if not the very best. This psalm conveys to us the significance of divine revelation. The first half (vv. 1-6) describes God’s revelation in nature. God is revealed in His creation. As Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

But while general revelation is sufficient to reveal the fact that God exists, and to teach us something about His attributes, nature alone does not reveal saving truth. The point of the Psalm is the utter spiritual perfection and all-sufficiency of special revelation, in the written Word of God.

Therefore the second half of the Psalm (vv. 7-14) focuses on the absolute and utter sufficiency of Scripture as our one true and infallible guide in life. The psalmist begins this section on the Word of God by writing:

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, enduring forever;

the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.

—vv. 7-9

Those three verses contain an absolutely comprehensive, yet concise, statement on the sufficiency of Scripture. It contains six basic lines of thought, each with three basic elements, namely: a title for the Word of God, a characteristic of the Word of God, and a benefit of the Word of God. Each of those lines of thought uses the key phrase “of the LORD.” Six times the covenant name of God, Yahweh, is used to identify the source of the sufficient Word.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;

The first title for Scripture is “the law,” which basically means divine teaching. It points to the teaching nature of Scripture. In the Scriptures, It teaches what we should believe, what kind of character we should cultivate, and how we ought to live. It is God’s teaching for every area of life.

The first characteristic of God’s Word, according to verse 7, is that it is “perfect.” The Hebrew term translated “perfect” is a common word that also can mean “whole,” “complete,” or “sufficient.” The Scriptures cover everything and lacks nothing.

The first part of verse 7 also lists the first of Scripture’s six benefits: it revives the soul. It is so comprehensive that if carefully obeyed, it can transform the entire person by giving him salvation and providing all the means necessary for his sanctification, making the very soul of the individual new (cf. Rom 1:16; 2 Tim 3:15-17; 1 Pet 1:23-25).

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

Psalm 19:7 also declares a second title and characteristic of Scripture: “the testimony of the LORD is sure.”

“Testimony” defines God’s written Word as a witness to the truth. In the Bible God gives testimony to who He is and what He requires. His testimony is “sure,” in sharp contrast to the unreliable notions of men. “Sure” means unwavering, immovable, unmistakable, and worthy to be trusted. The truth of God’s Word thus provides a solid foundation on which people, without hesitation, can build their lives and eternal destinies (cf. 2 Pet 1:19-21).

The benefit of this sure testimony is that of “making wise the simple.” The word translated “wise” basically means to be skilled in the matters of practical godly living. To be wise is to master the art of daily living by knowing the Word of God and applying it in every situation.

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

The first half of Psalm 19:8 begins with a third title and characteristic of God’s Word: “The precepts of the LORD are right.”

“Precepts,” mean divine principles, statutes, and guidelines. They are simply characterized as “right.” They show believers the right spiritual path and guide them into the way of true understanding. People who follow the Word of God are not left to wander around in the fog of human opinion.

The result of applying Scripture’s principles, obeying its precepts, and walking in its pathways is true joy — “rejoicing the heart.” The prophet Jeremiah, in the midst of tremendous human stress—rejection of his person and message, and the disaster befalling his entire nation—gave great testimony to the joy that comes through God’s Word: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer 15:16; cf. 1 John 1:4). If those who claim to follow Christ today were as excited about scriptural precepts as they are about the materialism of this world, the character of the church would be wholly different, and our testimony to the world would be consistent and potent.

The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

The second part of Psalm 19:8 lists a fourth title and characteristic to identify the Word of God: “the commandment of the LORD is pure.”

The word “commandment” emphasizes the authoritative, binding character of Scripture. God requires certain things from people, and He blesses those who comply but judges those who do not. His requirements are “pure,” a word actually better translated as “clear.” Some elements of Scripture are more obscure and harder to understand than others, but generally the Bible is clear and not obscure.

Scripture’s purity and clarity produces the benefit of “enlightening the eyes.” It provides illumination in the midst of moral, ethical, and spiritual darkness. It reveals the knowledge of everything not otherwise readily seen (cf. Prov 6:23). Life itself is confusing and chaotic. Seeking truth apart from Scripture only adds to the confusion. Scripture, by contrast, is remarkably clear.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;

Fifth in the list of Scripture’s titles and characteristics is the opening phrase of Psalm 19:9, “the fear of the LORD is clean.”

Here the psalmist uses the term “fear” as a synonym for the Word of God. Scripture that seeks to produce the fear of God in its readers is “clean.” That speaks of the utter absence of impurity, filthiness, defilement, or imperfection. God’s Word alone, is unsullied by sin, untainted by evil, devoid of corruption, and without error of any kind (cf. 119:9).

Consequently, the Bible has the remarkable benefit of “enduring forever” (Ps 19:9). It is “the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23) that never changes and never needs to be altered, no matter what the generation.

The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether;

Sixth and last title and characteristic of Scripture is found in the second half of verse 9: “The rules of the LORD are true.”

These “rules” are the judgments and ordinances of God — in essence, divine verdicts. The commandments of the Bible are the eternally supreme Judge’s legal decrees for the life and eternal destiny of mankind. And those rules are “true.” It is always relevant, and applicable—in contrast to the lies of unregenerate men who are mere pawns and victims of Satan, the father of lies.

The result of the truthfulness of Scripture in verse 9 is that it is “righteous altogether.” That phrase conveys the idea of comprehensiveness. Scripture is the complete, sufficient, error-free source of all truth. That is why God issued such commands as “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it” (Deut 4:2; cf. Rev 22:18-19).

Further in the second half of Psalm 19, it goes on to affirm the supreme value of Scripture:

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.

Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

—vv. 10-13

First, David says God’s Word is more valuable than “much fine gold.” Material blessings are valueless compared to the truth of God’s Word.

Second, Scripture is “sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Nothing is as enriching, as personally meaningful, and as much a source of lasting pleasure as joyful hours spent reading, studying, and meditating on the contents of God’s Word (cf. Jer 15:16).

Third, the Bible is valuable as the greatest source of spiritual protection: “By them is your servant warned” (v. 11). Scripture protects believers in the face of temptation, sin, and ignorance (cf. Ps 119:9-11).

Fourth, in keeping its truths there is “great reward,” derive from obedience to Scripture, which results in eternal glory. In fact, the word “reward” here in Hebrew is literally “the end.” The psalmist is saying that in obeying the Word there is a great end, an eternal reward.

The Scriptures are also valuable as the supplier of the greatest purification. “Who can discern his errors?” (v. 12). In light of all the positive characteristics and life-transforming benefits attendant to God’s Word, David could not understand why anyone would ever disobey God’s precepts. That prompted him to cry out, “Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!” (vv. 12-13). “Hidden faults” are the sins we do not plan to commit and often don’t remember to confess. “Presumptuous sins” are those arrogant, premeditated ones we commit even though we know better.

David sincerely desired not to have such sins dominate him, so that he could be “blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” He employs a Hebrew term for “transgression” that has the idea of willfully breaking free from a restraint or charging past a barrier to escape the dominion of God and the realm of grace. It simply means apostasy. The psalmist was appealing to God for purity of heart, that he might never apostatize, because he realized the Word of God was the only sufficient safeguard against spiritual disaster.

Psalm 19 concludes by expressing the psalmist’s commitment to Scripture: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (v. 14).

David wanted the Lord to make his words and thoughts biblical. He wanted to be a man of the Word. A true and consistent commitment to divine revelation is the only commitment that really matters in this life.

Is the Bible really sufficient to meet every problem of human life? Of course it is. And anyone who says it is not, whether by explicit statement or by implicit action, calls God a liar and ignores or seriously undermines Paul’s clear, self-explanatory instruction to Timothy:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

—2 TIM 3:14-17

(Source: Thinking Biblically! – Recovering A Christian Worldview)

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THE PURPOSE OF THIS SITE IS TO SHARE OUR INTERPRETATIONS OF IMPORTANT ISSUES RAISED IN GOD'S WORD. WE BELIEVE IN SOLA SCRIPTURA AND NOT IN ANY MAN-MADE DOCTRINE, ADDITIONAL REVELATIONS OR ADDITIONAL PROPHECIES WHICH ARE NOT IN LINE WITH THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. IMAGES DISPLAYING "JESUS" AND ANY CATHOLIC MATERIAL WILL BE DELETED WITHOUT NOTIFICATION. THIS IS A CHRISTIAN BLOG. WE MUST ALWAYS ACT LIKE REBORN CHRISTIANS AND NO UNNECESSARY DEBATES OR PERSONAL ATTACKS WOULD BE TOLERATED. NEVER GIVE UP TRUTH BUT REMEMBER THAT THERE WOULD ALWAYS BE "GRAY AREAS" ON WHICH WE WOULD ONLY GET FINAL ANSWERS ONCE WE ARE WITH CHRIST. HEAVENLY REMNANT MINISTRIES'' STATEMENT OF FAITH IS AS FOLLOWS: 1. There is one living and true GOD, eternally existing in three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, equal in power and glory; that this triune God created all, upholds all, and governs all things. (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; John 10:30; Hebrews 9:14) 2. We believe that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, fully inspired without error in the original manuscripts, and the infallible rule of faith and practice. The Word of God is the foundation upon which this church operates and is the basis for which this ministry is governed. We believe that the Word of God supercedes any earthly law that is contrary to the Holy Scriptures. (Isaiah 28:13; Nehemiah 8:8; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 2 Peter 1:21) 3. We believe in the person of God the Father, an Infinite, personal Spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power and love; that He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men; that He hears and answers prayer; and that He saves from sin and death all those who come to Him through Jesus Christ. (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalms 90:2; Psalms 102:27; John 4:24; 1 Timothy 1:17; Titus 1:3) 4. We believe in the person of Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles and teachings, his substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for His people and personal, visible return to earth. (Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Matthew 1:23; Mark 16:19; Luke 1:34-35; John 1:1-2; John 8:58; John 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 1:2; Revelation 1:8) 5. We believe in the person of the Holy Spirit, Who came forth from the Father and Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and to regenerate, sanctify and empower for ministry all who believe in Christ; (Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 3:18; John 16:8-11; Romans 15:13,16; Hebrews 9:14) 6. We believe the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Jesus Christ and that He is an abiding helper, teacher, and guide. (John 14:16-17, 16:8-11) 7. We believe that all people are sinners by nature and, therefore, are under condemnation; that God regenerates based upon faith by the Holy Spirit, those who repent of their sins and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. (Acts 8:15-17; Titus 3:5) 8. We believe that God is sovereign and that He elects those He predestined to be saved according to His will (It is not man’s own choice) (1 Thessalonians 1:4, Romans 8:33, Mark 13:27, Mark 13:20, Acts 13:48, Ephesians 1:3-4, James 1:18, James 2:5, 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, Romans 9:10-16) 9. We believe in the universal church, the living spiritual body, of which Christ is the head and all who are born again are members. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 4:15-16) 10. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ committed two ordinances to the church: (a) full immersion water baptism, and (b) the Lord's Supper. (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) 11. We believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ which is His personal, visible return to earth and the establishment of His millennial kingdom, in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment and eternal blessing of the righteous and endless suffering of the wicked. (Matthew 16:27; Acts 1:11; Revelation 19:11-16, 20: 11-15) 12. We believe in a literal Heaven and a literal Hell and that all those who place their faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ will spend eternity in Heaven with the Lord, while those who were not elected and rejected Jesus’ free gift of salvation will spend eternity separated from the Lord in Hell. (Matthew 5:3, 25:31-34; Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 1:4; Psalm 9:17; Matthew 5:22, 18:9; Luke 12:5) 13. We believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church where all believers will meet the Lord in the air and be taken out of this world prior to the Tribulation that will come upon the earth. (Matthew 24:29-31; Luke 21:36; Romans 1:18, 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Peter 2:7-9; Revelation 5:7-10, 7:13-14) 14. We believe in the literal fulfillment of Bible end time prophecies, although some might be written in a figurative or symbolic manner in the Bible, like the book of Revelation. 

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