The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making wise the simple.
I. WHAT IT IS. Six names are used, and six different statements are made with regard to the Bible.
1. It is "the Law of the Lord," and, as such, it is "perfect."
2. It is "the testimony of the Lord," and, as such, it is "sure." In it God speaks with solemn earnestness and insistance, and what he says may be trusted.
3. It is "the statutes of the Lord;" and the statutes of the Lord are "right." The way of duty is clearly and unmistakably marked out.
4. It is the "commandment of the Lord." It is not mere counsel or instruction, but has all the authority and awfulness of "commandment." And as such it is "pure," clear as crystal, illuminating as the light.
6. Lastly, the Bible is spoken of as "the judgments of the Lord." This refers to the administration of the Law. God's "judgments," being the execution of his will, must be "true." Based upon the eternal principles of right, they must themselves be eternal.
II. WHAT THE BIBLE DOES.
III. WHAT THE BIBLE DESERVES. We have it in our hands. We have heard its character, and the claims made in its behalf, and what is our response? The language employed by the psalmist fitly expresses what our feelings and conduct should be, how we should treat God's most Holy Word.
1. It deserves to be valued more than gold.
2. It deserves to be loved and delighted in as "sweeter than honey and the honey-comb."
3. It deserves to be studied and obeyed with increasing devotion; for thereby our minds are enlightened, and our lives illumined, and great is our reward in purity and peace and the love of God. And if we have learnt its preciousness ourselves, we shall surely labour to make it known to others, that they also may be enriched by its treasures and blessed with its joys. - W.F.
The law of the Lord is perfect.
1. Its fervid style. There is not a dull passage, if we except a few chronologies and such like, from Genesis to Revelation.
2. Its exuberance of illustration. It is a book of pictures.
3. Its practical wisdom. If you live seventy years you will not have gathered all the practical wisdom you may learn now from studying the Bible. Do not forget that you may find in the Bible eternal life.
(A. F. Forrest.)
(Moses T. Hoge, D. D.)
(D. M'Kinnon, M. A.)
Homiletic Monthly.The law is characterised by six names and nine epithets and by nine effects. The names are law, testimony, statutes, commandments, fear, judgments. To it are applied nine epithets, namely, perfect, sure, right, pure, holy, true, righteous, desirable, sweet. To it are ascribed nine effects, namely, it converts the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures forever, enriches like gold, satisfies like honey, warns against sin, rewards the obedient. The central thought or conception about which all gathers is that of law. There is a profound philosophy in this passage. It presents Jehovah as Lord, i.e. "Law-ward, or guardian of law. We are to conceive of God's law as —
1. A perfect rule of duty, having a basis of common law beneath all its statutory provisions, an eternal basis of essential right and wrong. "Thou shalt" and "thou shalt not," based upon eternal principles, not upon an arbitrary will. We are to think of this fabric of law as —
2. Supported like a grand arch, upon two great pillars: reward and penalty.The whole passage is therefore a challenge to our adoring homage and obedience.
1. The law is a perfect product of infinite wisdom and love, (Romans 7:12, 14) "holy, just, good, spiritual."
2. It is enforced by Divine sanctions of reward and penalty, and these are each equally necessary to sustain the law and government of God. The testimonies and the judgment are equally perfect. The love that rewards and the wrath that punishes are equally beautiful and perfect.The transcendent thought of the whole passage is that obedience is a privilege.
1. Law is the voice of love, not simply of authority, therefore only love can truly fulfil.
2. Obedience is self-rewarding and disobedience self-avenging.The general thought of this whole passage is, obedience the highest privilege.
1. The law is the expression of Divine perfection; hence leads to perfection.
2. Of the highest love; hence must be interpreted by love and fulfilled by love.
3. Of the highest bliss — key to blessing; hence the door to promises.
4. "Our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ." Cannot justify, but only conduct to the obedient One who can justify.
I. THE CHARACTER OF THE LAW. Perfect, that is, complete and entire. See the testimony —
1. Of Moses (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).
2. David, throughout the Psalms, as here in our text.
3. Jesus, the Son of God.
4. Paul (1 Timothy 3:14, 17).
II. ITS EFFECTS. "Converting the soul." Note what conversion is, the great spiritual change in a man's heart.
III. PRACTICAL LESSONS.
1. That it is not enough to have a mere intellectual acquaintance with the Word of God.
2. The vast criminality of those who would withhold the Word of God from men.
3. How dangerous and wicked to turn from it to the lying fables of deluded or designing men.
I. TO FACT — HISTORY. Glance —
1. At the heathen world — the people are in gross darkness.
2. At antiquity — they knew nothing of immortality, or the holiness of God. They never had any natural religion; what they had was all unnatural, monstrous. Reason failed them. They knew nothing certainly, though they made many conjectures; what little light they had came from tradition and through the Jews.
II. THE SCRIPTURES THEMSELVES. These teach that the heavens declare the glory of God, but they do not say that man was ever converted thereby.
III. THE INCONCLUSIVENESS OF THE ARGUMENTS EMPLOYED BY THE DISCIPLES OF NATURE. They say, nature teaches the existence of one God. But until the Bible has taught you this you cannot know it. What we see would rather teach that there are two deities, a good and a bad one. And, in fact, without the Bible men never did believe in the unity of God. And so of the Divine attributes. His unchangeableness and goodness, His spirituality and His will, the sanctions of His law and the ,immortality of the soul. The real utility of all the light of nature on the subject of religion consists in this: that it demonstrates its own insufficiency for teaching us a single important truth, and thus turns us over to the Word of God; and having done so, shines as a constant witness, and everywhere, to impress the lessons of Bible teaching upon us. It strikes the infidel dumb, and aids the devotions of the Christian, living or dying. But alone it teaches nothing. God never said it could. And its reasonings, proudly called in the schools "science" and" philosophy," vanish into smoke when we touch them. You will never read God's world rightly till His Word teaches you how. After it has taught you you may gather proofs of religion from nature which you could not gather before. The lesson is in nature; but nature is a sealed book to a sinner. It may silence a sceptic, it cannot satisfy a soul. She has no Christ to tell of, no atonement, no pardon, no firm foothold on immortal work. She cannot make men wise or good or happy, or inspire with blessed hope.
(J. S. Spencer, D. D.)
Converting the soul.
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.I. WHAT IS HERE MEANT BY CONVERSION? In margin it is rendered "restoring." This restoring the soul is from its fall in Adam to its salvation in Christ.
1. From the darkness of ignorance to the light of Divine knowledge. Ignorance is general where the means of knowledge are not realised. The light of Divine knowledge, employing and enriching the understanding, is essential to the restoration of the soul.
2. From the oppressive weight of contracted guilt to a state of conscious acceptance with God (Romans 5:1).
3. From inward depravity, derived from our first parents, to a conformity to the moral image of God. The removal of guilt from the conscience, and the being "sanctified wholly," are distinct attainments in the Christian life.
4. From a state of misery to the possession of real happiness. How can men but be miserable in sin!
II. THE MEANS BY WHICH THIS RESTORATION IS EFFECTED. By the perfect law of the Lord. For law read doctrine. This doctrine is —
1. Divine in its origin.
2. Pure in the means of its communication.
3. Harmonious, and well adapted to the condition of man in all its parts.
4. Energetic in its operations. Improvement, — ministers must understand the doctrine of the Lord before they can make it known to others.
(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
I. THE SOUL OF MAN IN ITS NATURAL STATE REQUIRES TO BE CONVERTED OR RESTORED. See how abundant is the Scripture testimony to this truth. Even the best men have confessed their need: David says of himself, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity," etc. There has been but one bright exception amongst men, and that is "the Man Christ Jesus. He alone "knew no sin.' It is the exception which proves the rule.
II. BUT MANY TAKE EXCEPTION TO THIS BY DENYING THE FACT OF THE PERVERSION OF THE HUMAN SOUL. "As for God, His way is perfect," as may be clearly seen from those of His works which sin has not depraved. But as for man, Scripture and experience alike attest that he has "corrupted his way."
III. BY DENYING THAT MAN'S RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE. But wherefore? Is anything too hard for the Lord? Cannot He who at first made man upright remodel him after His own image?
IV. BY DENYING THE ADEQUACY OF THE MEANS OF RECOVERY. It is said the Word of God is not an adequate instrument. But experience has proved the contrary. For the word, or doctrine, of the Lord is perfect, complete. It will never fail of the desired issue in those who come to the study of it in a right spirit.
(Thomas Dale, M. A.)
I. THE EXCELLENT PROPERTIES OF THE WORD OF GOD. As a law it is perfect. Nothing can be added to it, nothing taken from it. It contains all our duty and all our consolation; all that is necessary to make us happy and holy. The writings of the heathen philosophers contain a few mutilated principles and some fine sentiments, but they are not directed to any great end, nor are they complete in themselves. As a testimony the Word of God is sure. Considered as the solemn witness and attestation of God to all those truths which concern man's everlasting salvation, it is sure. It comes with a force and authority to the conscience. It follows that the statutes of the Lord are right. The equity and holiness of them equal their completeness and certainty. They are in all respects true and just and excellent. There is nothing harsh, nothing defiling, nothing erroneous, nothing arbitrary in them. They have not only authority, but goodness on their side. It is a further property of the Word of God that, as a commandment, it is pure. The Bible is a clear and perspicuous rule of duty. Its pure light has no need of proofs, reasonings, evidences, or study. When considered producing the fear of the Lord it is eternal. The obligations of revealed truth are perpetual.
II. THE SURPRISING EFFECTS WHICH THE WORD OF GOD PRODUCES.
1. It converts the soul. This is the first thing the fallen creature needs. Scripture begins, where man's necessities begin, with the heart. It unfolds the depravity of our nature. It exhibits the astonishing scheme of redemption in the death of the incarnate Saviour.
2. After conversion follows joy.
3. The sincere student will advance in knowledge.
4. It induces a holy, reverential fear of God. Impress the high and affectionate regard which we should pay to Holy Scripture.
(Daniel Wilson, M. A.)
I. THE WORK OF THE WORD OF GOD IN CONVERSION. Not apart from the Spirit, but as it is used by the Spirit, it —
1. Convinces men of sin: they see what perfection is, that God demands it and that they are far from it.
2. Drives them from false methods of salvation to bring them to self-despair, and to shut them up to God's method of saving them.
3. Reveals the way of salvation through Christ by faith.
4. Enables the soul to embrace Christ as its all in all, by setting forth promises and invitations which are opened up to the understanding and sealed to the heart.
5. Brings the heart nearer and nearer to God, by awakening love, desire for holiness, etc.
6. Restores the soul when it has wandered, bringing back the tenderness, hope, love, joy, etc., which it had lost.
7. Perfects the nature. The highest flights of holy enjoyment are not above or beyond the Word.
II. THE EXCELLENCE OF THIS WORK. Its operations are altogether good, timed and balanced with infinite discretion.
1. It removes despair without quenching repentance.
2. Gives pardon, but does not create presumption.
3. Gives rest, but excites the soul to progress.
4. Breathes security, but. engenders, watchfulness.
5. Bestows strength and holiness, but begets no boasting.
6. Gives harmony to duties, emotions, hopes, and enjoyments.
7. Brings the man to live for God and with God, and yet makes him none the less fitted for the daily duties of life.
III. THE CONSEQUENT EXCELLENCE OF THE WORD.
1. We need not add to it to secure conversion in any case.
2. We need not keep back any doctrine for fear of damping the flame of a true revival.
3. We need not extraordinary gifts to preach it, the Word will do its own work.
4. We have but to follow it to be converted, and to keep to it to become truly wise. It fits man's needs as the key the lock. Cling to it, study it, use it.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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