Psalm 19: God’s Word Is Pure

sunset in the Shenandoah Mountains

When I was a girl, living in Florida, on three occasions I had the opportunity to float down the Ichetucknee Springs with my friends and family. The water was as clear as glass, and oh, so brisk! You could see all the way down to the bottom, and at times, though the depth of the water was 15 feet or more, it looked as though you could touch it without even putting your head under water.

That is the idea here in Psalm 19:8, where God tells us that His commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes. When you look into the Word of God for answers, you can see all the way to the bottom of a situation, and solutions become easy to reach.

Let’s learn some more about the sufficiency of Scripture from Psalm 19.

Psalm 19:7-8

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Review: Bible Answers for Your Every Need

Psalm 19, verses 7-9 give us six statements about the Bible that sum up the sufficiency of Scripture and answer everything that the human heart longs for.

Do you long for transformation, to be different than you are?
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.

Do you long for wisdom and discernment, to be able to sort out the issues of life?
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Do you long for joy, lasting happiness, and deep peace?
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.

Do you long to understand the dark and hidden matters of life?
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Do you long for something that is enduring, permanent, and trustworthy?
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.

Do you long for something that is consummately right and righteous?
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Review: Perfect Parallelism

The parallelism in these verses is matchless, and reveals to us God’s heart concerning His Word. It is like the many facets of a diamond, resplendent from every angle.

Let us now take a brief look at the different parts of these three verses, for these will be the building blocks of our study for the next six weeks, and then we’ll jump in to the first part.

Six Titles of the Word of God

  1. the law
  2. the testimony
  3. the statutes
  4. the commandment
  5. the fear
  6. the judgments

Six Characteristics of the Word of God

  1. perfect
  2. sure
  3. right
  4. pure
  5. clean
  6. true

Six Benefits of the Word of God

  1. converts the soul
  2. makes wise the simple
  3. rejoices the heart
  4. enlightens the eyes
  5. endures forever
  6. is altogether righteous (provides full spiritual resources)

Six Times God Affirms That He is the Author of the Word.

  1. of the LORD
  2. of the LORD
  3. of the LORD
  4. of the LORD
  5. of the LORD
  6. of the LORD

Now, let’s look at the fourth title, characteristic, and benefit of the Word of the Lord.

Title #4: The Commandment

The Word of God is instruction, testimony, and precepts, but it is also commandments—or divine decrees. Here in this phrase, the emphasis is on the authority of Scripture. The Bible is not full of suggestions, but commandments.

The Hebrew word translated “commandment” is mitzvah.

Have you ever attended a bar mitzvah, the coming of age ceremony for Jewish boys? The term bar mitzvah literally means “son of the commandment,” and the ceremony represents the age (13) at which the young man is ready to observe religious precepts and eligible to take part in public worship. In other words, he becomes responsible to obey the commandments given in Scripture.

Similarly, girls go through bat mitzvah, which means “daughter of the commandment.”

If the bar mitzvah is the induction into adulthood, where a boy is expected to obey the commandments, then it follows that the Word of God is written on a level that a 13-year-old can understand. God’s commands are not complicated, but are clear and concise, as we shall see next.

Characteristic #4: Pure

The Hebrew word behind “pure” is bar, and comes from a root that means “to clarify.”

You may recall from just a few minutes ago that we saw the word bar and said that it means “son.” Am I contradicting myself? No. I am not a Hebrew scholar, so I cannot tell the difference between the two words. All I know is that they appear to have the same spelling, but totally different meanings. Also, they have different numbers in the Strong’s Concordance. We obviously have homonyms in the English language, words that are spelled the same but have different meanings, and we don’t question that. So is it not equally likely that there would be homonyms in the Hebrew language?

This word bar (Strong’s link 1249) has been translated as…

  • Choice — “My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her” (S. Sol. 6:9).
  • Clean — “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (Psalm 73:1).
  • Clear — “Who is she who looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” (S. Sol. 6:10).
  • Pure — “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” (Psalm 24:4).

As the crystal clear water of the Ichetucknee Springs, so the commandments of the Lord are clean, pure, and clear. They are lucid, not mystifying, confusing, and puzzling. Sure, there are obscure elements in Scripture, just as the Ichetucknee Springs has places where it is harder to reach the bottom; but the Word of God in general is clear. It gives clear direction for life; it enables you to see right down to the bottom of the issue.

The Word of God enlightens the darkness. When you don’t understand what is going on around you, and you don’t know why things are happening the way they are, the Word of God makes things clear. It teaches you how to distinguish right from wrong.

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.

Proverbs 6:23

Can you imagine not knowing where we came from, why we are here, or where we are going? Such darkness can cause great distress and anxiety. To this kind of person, God appears to be the worst person imaginable, especially when tragedy strikes. They live in fear and darkness, and often they absorb themselves in materialism. Some people drown out their anxieties with things like food, or shopping. Of course, these habits create new anxieties of their own.

To the person who seeks wisdom from the Word of God, these things are clear. It is possible to understand why bad things happen in the world. This does not mean that we embrace the bad things, but we can endure hard times with eternity in view. Hardship is easier to endure when our focus is on God and His Word rather than on ourselves and/or our circumstances. This is what the Bible calls “the comfort of the Scriptures” (Romans 15:4), and this is the source of hope.

Facing death is easier, too, when you face it through the perspective of the Word of God. I learned a new song not long ago, and it is fast becoming one of my favorites. Look at these words as you listen to the video play:

It Is Not Death to Die

Lyrics by Henri Malan (1787-1864); translated by George Bethune (1847); Bob Kauflin
Music by Bob Kauflin
Performed by Sovereign Grace

It is not death to die, to leave this weary road,
And join the saints who dwell on high, who’ve found their home with God.
It is not death to close the eyes long dimmed by tears,
And wake in joy before Your throne, delivered from our fears.

O Jesus, conquering the grave,
Your precious blood has power to save.
Those who trust in You will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die.

It is not death to fling aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing to live among the just;
It is not death to hear the key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years to praise You evermore.

O Jesus, conquering the grave,
Your precious blood has power to save.
Those who trust in You will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die.

Benefit #4: Enlightens the Eyes

The word enlighten means “to be luminous.” The Hebrew word used here has been translated “break of day, glorious, kindle, enlighten, give light, show light, set on fire, shine.”

The Psalms and Proverbs are replete with references to the light of the Word of God. Here are just a few examples:

For You will light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

Psalm 18:28

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1

Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness: He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

Psalm 112:4

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.

Proverbs 6:23

The prophet Isaiah also affirms the power and sufficiency of the Word of God by stating that anyone who seeks truth from another source other than God’s Word has no light in them.

And when they shall say unto you, “Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter,” for the living to the dead, should not a people seek unto their God? to the law and to the testimony? if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Isaiah 8:19-20

It was common practice among idol worshipers to consult with people who claimed to have a connection with the dead. They insisted that the spirits spoke with hushed voices and low moans; therefore they did the same, so as to enhance their credibility by imitation.

We are not to seek the wisdom of men, but we must seek God. We must look to the Law and the Testimony—God’s holy Word—for wisdom. This is the only true source of wisdom.

Although Isaiah pointed the finger directly at necromancers, I would broaden the application here to include seeking counsel from anyone who does not rely upon the wisdom of God. The Bible itself states: “If they speak not according to this word—God’s Word—it is because there is no light in them.”

The Hebrew word translated light here is shachar, which means, “morning light; dawn; the breaking of day.” Notice how similar it is to the word used (ore) in Psalm 19.

If the wisdom of men does not agree with the Word of God, it is evidence that those men have not even an inkling of light in them. They are totally ignorant, without so much as the twilight of true knowledge. Why would you base your decisions upon the counsel of blind men and women? How can one lead you to the light when he cannot see it for himself?

Why do people seek men’s wisdom and reject the Word of God as irrelevant and obsolete? Because they love darkness. If they come to the light, that light will expose their sin and force them to make a decision. But if they remain in darkness, then they may continue on, deceived into thinking that they are okay. Ignorance is bliss—for a while, until it ends in destruction.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he who does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:19-21

The apostle John pointed out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the living Word of God, and He is light.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.

John 1:1-5, 9

Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, “I am the light of the world: he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12

Finally, let’s look again at Psalm 119, which develops the thoughts given us in Psalm 19.

105 Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

130 The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple.

135 Make Your face to shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes.

140 Your Word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it.

Conclusion

Once in a while, a man or woman wakes up to the reality that darkness leads to destruction, and they begin to seek the light. If you want light, you have to go to the source of light—you have to go to God through His Word. Examine what others say by the light of the Word, and reject anything that disagrees with the Bible.

And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

Isaiah 42:16

For the word of God is quick [alive], and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Photo taken along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah, Virginia, 2014

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