God’s Word is
Perfect and Pure, Sure and True (Psalm 19:7-10)
What is the standard of
purity of God’s words? Is it ninety-nine percent pure or ninety-nine
point nine percent pure or one hundred percent pure? There are several
adjectives and nouns used in the Scriptures describing the standard of
purity of God’s words. Psalm 12:6 says, “The words of the LORD are pure
words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” The
psalmist in Psalm 119:140 says, “Thy word is very pure.” Again, Psalm
19:7-9 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, . . . The statues of the
LORD are right, . . . The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous
altogether.” Not only the Old Testament explains the perfection of God’s
words, but also the New Testament. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:15, “And
that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to
make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Another important verse is John 17:17, where the Lord Jesus Christ
Himself says, “Thy word is truth.” These passages describe the absolute
purity of God’s words. Here we will consider one of these passages:
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the
judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine
gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
generally speaks of the glory of the Lord. In the first part of this
Psalm (vv. 1-6), the psalmist praises the great Giver of the law and
thus prepares for the expression of the glory of the law which comes
from the hand of such a great Author. Psalm 19 can be outlined as
||The glory of the Lawgiver (vv. 1-6).
||The glory of the law in its manifold uses
The law in relation to the psalmist (vv.
stated the glory of the Lawgiver, which has been revealed in His
handiwork, the psalmist turns to declaring the glory of the law. Much
emphasis is given to the revelation of God in His law, as he attaches it
to God’s covenant name, “Yahweh” (the LORD).
The Excellence of God’s Word (vv. 7-9)
verses 7-9, the psalmist follows a fixed pattern in every verse: first a
distinctive name for the law; then an appropriate adjective; and
thereafter a beneficial effect or a characteristic.
||The distinctive names for the law:
“law,” “testimony,” “statutes,” “commandment,” “fear,” and
||The descriptive adjectives:
“perfect,” “sure,” “right,” “pure,” “clean,” and “righteous.”
||The beneficial effects: “converting
the soul,” “making wise the simple,” “rejoicing the heart,”
“enlightening the eyes,” “enduring for ever,” and “righteous
7 lists the first two distinctive names for the law, followed by the two
adjectives, and benefits. The first line reads “the law of the LORD is
perfect, converting the soul.” The word “law” is used here to mean
“revelation” of God, not just legislation. The phrase “the law of the
LORD” indicates that the revelation is from the Covenant God, who is
Yahweh. The revelation of Yahweh is described as “perfect” which means
“complete, sound, wholesome, unimpaired, having integrity.” God’s law is
perfect in the sense that it is flawless and spotless. The function of
the law is “converting” or literally “restoring” the soul to God. It is
to revive, refresh, and renew life and hope.
The second line reads “the
testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” It is important
to note that God’s law is called “the testimony of the LORD.” God’s law
is His own testimony, which He Himself gives concerning His attributes,
works, the glory and harmony of His mercy and truth in His dealings with
men. Therefore, the psalmist describes it as “sure.” It means “made
firm, sure, lasting,” or “confirmed, established, verified,” or
“reliable, faithful, trusty.” This is the word used to describe the
certainty of God’s covenant with David (the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel
7:12-16) in Psalm 89:28. Therefore, God’s law is raised above all doubt
in its declarations. Hence, one is able to place the most perfect
reliance upon it. The psalmist adds: it makes wise the simple. The
simple are those who are open to the suggestions of the moment, and
therefore are easily led astray. To such ones, God’s Word gives a solid
basis and stability by unfolding to them the great principles of eternal
truth which are the fountain of all wisdom in the affairs of men (2
Timothy 3:15; also see Proverbs 1:4; 9:4).
Verse 8 lists the next two
distinctive names for the law, followed by the two adjectives, and
benefits. The first line reads “the statutes of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.” The statutes, literally the precepts of the LORD,
is another name that the psalmist uses for the Word of the LORD. The
description the psalmist adds here is “right” which also means
“straight, straightforward, just, upright.” This is the word used to
describe the uprightness of God in Deuteronomy 32:4; and in Psalm 25:8;
92:15. God’s Word is upright because it proceeds from the upright and
absolutely perfect will of God. They are, therefore, rejoicing the
heart. Truth, when received into one’s heart, brings much delight to his
A parallel thought follows
in the next line of verse 8, “the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes.” The adjective means “pure, clean” like “a pure
heart” in Psalm 24:4. It indicates that God’s commandments are
undefiled, unadulterated. It is ritually clean and morally right. God’s
commandments are pure because it is given by a holy God. It is
sanctified by Him and, therefore, it brings enlightenment to the eyes,
not just enlightening one’s understanding, but also one’s whole being,
from darkness to light (Ephesians 5:8).
Verse 9 adds two more
distinctive names for the law, followed by the two adjectives, and
benefits. First, the psalmist says, “The fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring for ever.” The psalmist calls the revelation of God “fear.” It
is not the fear of God as an act performed, but as a precept, it is what
God’s revelation demands. God’s Word reveals the way in which God is to
be feared. In Psalm 34:11, the psalmist says, “Come, ye children,
hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (see also
Proverbs 15:33; Deuteronomy 17:19). The psalmist describes “the fear of
the LORD” as “clean” which also means “pure.” This word, as an
adjective, is used to mean: (1) pure in a physical sense, as opposed to
filthy, soiled (used of gold in Exodus 25:11); (2) pure in a ceremonial
sense, as opposed to that which is profane (used of animals for
sacrifice in Leviticus 13:17; 14:4); and (3) pure in a moral sense (used
of heart in Psalm 51:10; Proverbs 22:11). All of these ideas can be
applied here. God’s revelation is sacramentally and morally pure and
The same word is used in
Psalm 12:6 to describe the purity of God’s Word as compared with the
purity of silver tried in a furnace of earth: “The words of the LORD are
pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven
times.” This explains the absolute purity of God’s revelation. In the
context of Psalm 12, the psalmist is contrasting the words of the
ungodly with the words of God. The words of the ungodly are described as
“vanity” (v. 2), “flattering” (v. 2), and “double heart[ed]” (v. 2). In
contrast to their words, the LORD’s words are described as “pure” (v.
Because God’s Word is
undefiled and unadulterated, the psalmist says, it endures for ever.
This was what Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass
away, but my words shall not pass away.” God’s Word stands through all
eternity. No word, even one jot or tittle, will ever pass away from it.
The next line reads “the
judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” God’s law is
called the judgments of the LORD because it is through the revelation of
God that He establishes His justice. The judgments are “true.” The word
“true” here expresses sureness and utter dependability of God’s Word.
God’s revelation is His truth and therefore it is true and faithful.
Since God’s Word is true, the psalmist adds, it is righteous altogether.
The Exceeding Preciousness of God’s Word (v.
Having dealt with the
remarkable perfection and the immense value of God’s Word, the psalmist
now comes to his concluding remark on the issue. He now explains the
absolute desirability and sweetness of the law. The immense value of the
Word has been brought into view by comparing it with the most precious
things which men seek after: gold, honey, and honeycomb. Gold is one of
the most costly items and most sought after by many. Honey and honeycomb
(the finest of the honey) symbolize sweetness that gives the most
delightful enjoyment to man. The psalmist says that God’s commandments
are exceedingly more precious than gold or the sweetest of honey.
Therefore, he desires God’s commandments in his life above all the
precious things of earthly life (Psalm 119:127).
All the six adjectives and
benefits of God’s Word together describe the excellency of God’s
revelation. God’s revelation is absolutely perfect, sure, right, pure,
clean and true. These descriptions symbolize the very nature of God.
God’s Word reflects the
nature of God because it is His Word, His revelation to man. Hence it
always remains perfect, sure, right, pure, clean and true. Therefore, it
is able to: (1) convert the soul of men; (2) make wise the simple; (3)
make the heart of men rejoice; and (4) enlighten the eyes of men. Only
the Word of the LORD is able to accomplish these things in the life of a
sinful man, who is saved by His grace and mercy. The Word that is
perfect and pure, sure and true is the most powerful instrument of God
to work in the lives of His children so that their lives will be
converted and transformed to the likeness of the Master.
- Published in
Bible Witness, Vol 5 Issue
(March - April 2005)