Psalm 19:9
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) The fear of the Lord.—Here plainly not a moral quality of the individual, but, as in Proverbs 15:33 (comp. Deuteronomy 17:19), religion, the service demanded by the Law, which, being pure and undented,” endures, while the false systems of idolatrous nations perish. Based on the eternal principle of right, the judgments of God, it is eternal as they are.

Psalm 19:9. The fear of the Lord — True religion and godliness, prescribed in the word, reigning in the heart and practised in the life; or rather, that word or law itself is intended, and called the fear of the Lord, because it is both the rule and cause of that fear, or of true religion; is clean — Sincere, not adulterated with any mixture of vanity, falsehood, or vice; not countenancing or allowing any sin or impurity of any kind, and preservative of the purity and holiness of the soul; enduring for ever — Constant and unchangeable, the same for substance in all ages. Which is most true, both of the moral law and of the doctrine of God’s grace and mercy to sinful and miserable man, which two are the principal parts of that law of which he here speaks. For as to the difference between the Old Testament and the New, that lies only in circumstantial and ritual things, which are not here intended. And that alteration also was foretold in the Old Testament, and consequently the accomplishment of it did not destroy, but confirm, the certainty and constancy of God’s word. This also is opposed to human laws, in which there are, and ought to be, manifold changes, according to the difference of times, and people, and circumstances. The judgments of the Lord — His laws, frequently called his judgments, because they are the declarations of his righteous will; and, as it were, his judicial sentence, by which he expects that men should govern themselves, and by which he will judge them at the last day; are true — Grounded on the most sacred and unquestionable truths; and righteous altogether — Without the smallest exception; not like those of men, often wrong and unrighteous, but perfectly and constantly equitable, just, and holy.

19:7-10 The Holy Scripture is of much greater benefit to us than day or night, than the air we breathe, or the light of the sun. To recover man out of his fallen state, there is need of the word of God. The word translated law, may be rendered doctrine, and be understood as meaning all that teaches us true religion. The whole is perfect; its tendency is to convert or turn the soul from sin and the world, to God and holiness. It shows our sinfulness and misery in departing from God, and the necessity of our return to him. This testimony is sure, to be fully depended on: the ignorant and unlearned believing what God saith, become wise unto salvation. It is a sure direction in the way of duty. It is a sure fountain of living comforts, and a sure foundation of lasting hopes. The statues of the Lord are right, just as they should be; and, because they are right, they rejoice the heart. The commandments of the Lord are pure, holy, just, and good. By them we discover our need of a Saviour; and then learn how to adorn his gospel. They are the means which the Holy Spirit uses in enlightening the eyes; they bring us to a sight and sense of our sin and misery, and direct us in the way of duty. The fear of the Lord, that is, true religion and godliness, is clean, it will cleanse our way; and it endureth for ever. The ceremonial law is long since done away, but the law concerning the fear of God is ever the same. The judgments of the Lord, his precepts, are true; they are righteous, and they are so altogether; there is no unrighteousness in any of them. Gold is only for the body, and the concerns of time; but grace is for the soul, and the concerns of eternity. The word of God, received by faith, is more precious than gold; it is sweet to the soul, sweeter than honey. The pleasure of sense soon surfeit, yet never satisfy; but those of religion are substantial and satisfying; there is no danger of excess.The fear of the Lord - The word rendered fear in this place - יראה yir'âh - means properly fear, terror, Jonah 1:10; then, reverence, or holy fear, Psalm 2:11; Psalm 5:7; and hence, reverence toward God, piety, religion - in which sense it is often used. Compare Proverbs 1:7; Job 28:28; Isaiah 11:2. Hence, by metonymy, it means the precepts of piety or religion. It is used evidently in this sense here, as referring to revelation, or to revealed truth, in the sense that it promotes proper reverence for God, or secures a proper regard for his name and worship.

Is clean - The word used here - טהור ṭâhôr - means properly clear, pure, in a physical sense, as opposed to filthy, soiled; then, in a ceremonial sense, as opposed to that which is profane or common Leviticus 13:17, and then, in a moral sense, as a clean heart, etc., Psalm 12:6; Psalm 51:10. It is also applied to pure gold, Exodus 25:11. The sense here is, that there is nothing in it that tends to corrupt the morals, or defile the soul. Everything connected with it is of a pure or holy tendency, adapted to cleanse the soul and to make it holy.

Enduring for ever - Standing to all eternity. Not temporary; not decaying; not destined to pass away. It stands firm now, and it will stand firm for ever. That is, the law of God, considered as adapted to make the heart holy and pure, is eternal. What it is now it will always be. What its teaching is now it will continue to be forever.

The judgments of the Lord - The word here rendered judgments refers also to the revealed truth of God, with the idea that that has been judged or determined by him to be right and to be best. It is the result of the divine adjudication as to what is true, and what is best for man. The word is often used in this sense. Compare Exodus 21:1; Leviticus 18:5; Leviticus 26:43; compare Psalm 9:7, Psalm 9:16; Psalm 10:5.

Are true - Margin, truth. So the Hebrew. That is, they accord entirely with the truth, or are a correct representation of the reality of things. They are not arbitrary, but are in accordance with what is right. This supposes that there is such a thing as truth in itself, and the divine law conforms to that; not that God determines a thing by mere will, and that it is, therefore, right. God is infinitely perfect, and what he does will be always right, for that is in, accordance with his nature; but still his judgments are right, not because he makes that to be right which is determined by his will, but because his will is always in accordance with what is right.

And righteous altogether - That is, they are, without exception, just; or, they are altogether or wholly righteous. There is no one of them which is not just and proper. All that God determines, whether in giving or in executing his laws - all in his requirements, and all in the administration of his government - is always and wholly righteous. It is precisely what it should be in the case, and is, therefore, worthy of universal confidence.

7-9. The law is described by six names, epithets, and effects. It is a rule, God's testimony for the truth, His special and general prescription of duty, fear (as its cause) and judicial decision. It is distinct and certain, reliable, right, pure, holy, and true. Hence it revives those depressed by doubts, makes wise the unskilled (2Ti 3:15), rejoices the lover of truth, strengthens the desponding (Ps 13:4; 34:6), provides permanent principles of conduct, and by God's grace brings a rich reward. The fear of the Lord; by which he understands not the grace of God’s fear, as this phrase is commonly taken; nor the whole worship of God, as it is taken Psalm 34:9,11 Mt 15:9; but the law and word of God, which is the only thing that is here commended, and which is meant by all the other parallel titles of his testimony, and statutes, and commandments, and judgments, and consequently by this of his fear, which is as it were hemmed in within them. And this may well be so called by a usual metonymy, because it is both the object, and the rule, and the cause of this grace of holy fear, as God himself is called fear for the like reason, Genesis 31:53, and in the Hebrew, Psalm 76:1. Clean, i.e. sincere, not adulterated with any mixture of vanity, or falsehood, or vice; not requiring nor allowing any uncleanness or wickedness, as the religion of the Gentiles did.

Enduring for ever; constant and unchangeable, the same for substance in all the ages of the church and the world: which is most true, both of the moral law, and of the doctrine of God’s grace and mercy to sinful and miserable man; which two are the principal parts of that law, of which he here speaks, as is evident from the whole context. For as for the difference between the Old and the New Testament, that lies only in circumstantial, and ceremonial, or ritual things, which are not here intended; and that alteration also was foretold in the Old Testament, and consequently the accomplishment of it did not destroy, but confirm, the certainty and constancy of God’s word. This also is opposed to human laws, wherein there are and ought to be manifold changes, according to the difference of times, and people, and circumstances.

The judgments of the Lord, i.e. God’s laws, frequently called his judgments, because they are the declarations of his righteous will, and as it were his legal or judicial sentence by which he expects that men should govern themselves, and by which he will judge them at the last day.

The fear of the Lord is clean,.... Still the word of God is intended, which teaches men to fear the Lord; gives a full account of the worship of God, which is often meant by the fear of God; it instructs in the matter and manner of worship; and nothing more powerfully engages to serve the Lord with reverence and godly fear than the Gospel does: and this is "clean"; and the doctrines of it direct to the blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin, and to the righteousness of Christ, the fine linen, clean and white; the promises of it put the saints on cleansing themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; and the whole of it is the word of truth, by which God and Christ sanctify the church and the members of it, John 15:2. And this word is

enduring for ever; the law is done away; the ceremonial law entirely, and the moral law, as a covenant of works, and as to the ministration of it by Moses; but the Gospel continues; it is an everlasting one; it endures for ever, notwithstanding all the opposition made to it by open persecution, or false teachers;

the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether; "the judgments of the Lord" are the same with "the word of God", as appears from Psalm 119:25; and these seem to design that part of the word, which contains rules of God's judging and governing his people; or the laws, orders, and ordinances of Christ in his house, which his people should observe, and yield a cheerful obedience to, he being their King, Judge, and Lawgiver: and these are "true", or "truth" (g) itself; being wisely made, according to the truth of things, and agreeable to the holiness and righteousness of God, and so righteous; not at all grievous, but easy, pleasant, and delightful, one and all of them.

(g) "veritas", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Rivetus.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are {g} true and righteous {h} altogether.

(g) So that all man's inventions and intentions are lies.

(h) Everyone without exception.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. The fear of the Lord] Another synonym for the ‘law,’ inasmuch as its aim and object is to implant the fear of God in men’s hearts. (Deuteronomy 4:10). It is clean or pure (Psalm 12:6), in contrast to the immoralities of heathenism. It is like Jehovah Himself (Habakkuk 1:13), and like Him, it stands fast for ever (Psalm 102:26); for “righteousness is immortal” (Wis 1:15).

The judgments] Decisions, ordinances. These are truth (John 17:17); one and all they are in accordance with the standard of absolute justice (Deuteronomy 4:8).

Verse 9. - The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever. Hengstenberg explains "the fear of the Lord" in this place as "the instruction afforded by God for fearing him." And certainly, unless we adopt some such explanation, we shall find it difficult to account for the intrusion of the clause into its present position. The Law, the testimony, the statutes (or precepts), the commandment (vers. 7, 8), and the judgments (ver. 9), are external to man, objective; the fear of the Lord. as commonly understood, is internal, subjective, a "settled habit of his soul." It is not a thing of the same kind with the other five nominatives, and appears out of place among them. Hence it seems best, with Professor Alexander, to adopt Hengstenberg's explanation. The Law, viewed as teaching the fear of God, is undoubtedly "clean " - i.e. pure, perfect - and "endures for ever," or is of perpetual obligation. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. In "judgments" we have another of the recognized synonyms for the entire Law (Psalm 119:7, 13, 43, 52, 62), which is from first to last "exceeding righteous and true" (Psalm 119:138, Prayer-book Version). Psalm 19:9(Heb.: 19:8-10) No sign is made use of to mark the transition from the one part to the other, but it is indicated by the introduction of the divine name יהוה instead of אל. The word of nature declares אל (God) to us, the word of Scripture יהוה (Jahve); the former God's power and glory, the latter also His counsel and will. Now follow twelve encomiums of the Law, of which every two are related as antecedent and consequent, rising and falling according to the caesural schema, after the manner of waves. One can discern how now the heart of the poet begins to beat with redoubled joy as he comes to speak of God's word, the revelation of His will. תּורה does not in itself mean the law, but a pointing out, instruction, doctrine or teaching, and more particularly such as is divine, and therefore positive; whence it is also used of prophecy, Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 8:16, and prophetically of the New Testament gospel, Isaiah 2:3. But here no other divine revelation is meant than that given by the mediation of Moses, which is become the law, i.e., the rule of life (νόμος), of Israel; and this law, too, as a whole not merely as to its hortatory and disciplinary character, but also including the promises contained in it. The praises which the poet pronounces upon the Law, are accurate even from the standpoint of the New Testament. Even Paul says, Romans 7:12, Romans 7:14, "The Law is holy and spiritual, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." The Law merits these praises in itself; and to him who is in a state of favour, it is indeed no longer a law bringing a curse with it, but a mirror of the God merciful in holiness, into which he can look without slavish fear, and is a rule for the direction of his free and willing obedience. And how totally different is the affection of the psalmists and prophets for the Law, - an affection based upon the essence and universal morality of the commandments, and upon a spiritual realisation of the letter, and the consolation of the promises, - from the pharisaical rabbinical service of the letter and the ceremonial in the period after the Exile!

The divine Law is called תּמימה, "perfect," i.e., spotless and harmless, as being absolutely well-meaning, and altogether directed towards the well-being of man. And משׁיבת נפשׁ restoring, bringing back, i.e., imparting newness of life, quickening the soul (cf. Pil. שׁובב, Psalm 23:3), to him, viz., who obeys the will of God graciously declared therein, and enters upon the divine way or rule of salvation. Then in the place of the word תורה we find עדוּת, - as the tables of the Ten Commandments (לחוּת העדוּת) are called, - from עוּד (העיד), which signifies not merely a corroborative, but also a warning and instructive testimony or attestation. The testimony of Jahve is נאמנה, made firm, sure, faithful, i.e., raised above all doubt in its declarations, and verifying itself in its threatenings and promises; and hence מחכּימת פּתי, making wise simplicity, or the simple, lit., openness, the open (root פת to spread out, open, Indo-Germ. prat, πετ, pat, pad), i.e., easily led astray; to such an one it gives a solid basis and stability, σοφίζει αὐτὸν, 2 Timothy 3:15. The Law divides into פּקּוּדים, precepts or declarations concerning man's obligation; these are ישׁרים, straight or upright, as a norma normata, because they proceed from the upright, absolutely good will of God, and as a norma normans they lead along a straight way in the right track. They are therefore משׂמּחי לב, their educative guidance, taking one as it were by the hand, frees one from all tottering, satisfies a moral want, and preserves a joyous consciousness of being in the right way towards the right goal. מצות יהוה, Jahve's statute (from צוּה statuere), is the tenour of His commandments. The statute is a lamp - it is said in Proverbs 6:23 -and the law a light. So here: it is בּרה, clear, like the light of the sun (Sol 6:10), and its light is imparted to other objects: מאירת עינים, enlightening the eyes, which refers not merely to the enlightening of the understanding, but of one's whole condition; it makes the mind clear, and body as well as mind healthy and fresh, for the darkness of the eyes is sorrow, melancholy, and bewilderment. In this chain of names for the Law, יראת ה is not the fear of God as an act performed, but as a precept, it is what God's revelation demands, effects, and maintains; so that it is the revealed way in which God is to be feared (Psalm 34:12) - in short, it is the religion of Jahve (cf. Proverbs 15:33 with Deuteronomy 17:19). This is טהורה, clean, pure, as the word which is like to pure gold, by which it is taught, Psalm 12:7, cf. Job 28:19; and therefore עמדת לעד, enduring for ever in opposition to all false forms of reverencing God, which carry their own condemnation in themselves. משׁפּטי ה are the jura of the Law as a corpus juris divini, everything that is right and constitutes right according to the decision of Jahve. These judgments are אמת, truth, which endures and verifies itself; because, in distinction from most others and those outside Israel, they have an unchangeable moral foundation: צדקוּ יחדּו, i.e., they are צדיקים, in accordance with right and appropriate (Deuteronomy 4:8), altogether, because no reproach of inappositeness and sanctioned injustice or wrong clings to them. The eternal will of God has attained a relatively perfect form and development in the Law of Jahve according to the standard set up as the law of the nation.

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