Psalm 19:7
This passage may be regarded as teaching three things concerning the Word of God, or the Bible.

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.

5. It is "the fear of the Lord." This may stand for religion (Proverbs 15:33; of. Deuteronomy 17:19), and as such it is "pure and undefiled." It is "our reasonable service."

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.

1. "It converts the soul" (Psalm 23:3; 1 Timothy 1:15).

2. It "makes wise the simple" (Psalm 119:130; Acts 16:31).

3. It "rejoices the heart" (Psalm 119:162; Acts 8:39).

4. It "enlightens the eyes" (Psalm 16:11; Ephesians 1:18, 19).

5. It "endureth for ever" (Psalm 100:5; 1 John 2:14-17).

What is here stated as doctrine is elsewhere illustrated as fact. It is, as we believe the doctrine, that we shall become witnesses to the facts (1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Peter 1:23-25).

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.
I would not have you forget the true and proper mission of the Bible, — to reveal saving truth. But it is well to remember that, even as a classic, no book equals the Word of God. The Bible has exercised a remarkable influence in the department of literature. "The English tongue would lose its grandest monument if the works which the Bible has inspired were blotted from it." Religious books, of course, get everything from the Bible; but writers with no distinctly religious object are enormously beholden to its inspiration. There is not a notable book — a book of transcendent genius or power — which has not culled from the Word of God either thought or illustration or telling phrase. We need not, even in an age of advanced education and culture, be ashamed of the Bible. Its study will confer as much credit on our intellect as on our piety. We are not such Bible readers as were our fathers. This is one evil of the multiplication of books. In this generation we are better educated, we know more than our fathers. But have we the same robust and vigorous intellects? It seems to me that there is a deterioration in this respect along with our neglect of Bible study. There are three things which should make the Bible popular among young people —

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.)

Of what is not the Bible the foundation and the inspiration? To what interest of human life does it not give its great benediction? The system of doctrine and duty which the Bible contains is a fixed final system, not a progressive one, and one introductory to a higher, and the Bible will never become obsolete, and will never be supplemented by any other revelation. This proposition has been most flatly contradicted. It is argued that the Bible has accomplished a very good purpose in the world, but it cannot long satisfy the world's need, because it does not keep pace with the world's progress. By and by we shall need a broader basis on which to construct the religion of the future. A time, it is said, must come when the theological will be too narrow in its range for the demands of the race, and too dogmatic in its tone for the more liberal, general, comprehensive religion of the future. We are invited to mark the universality of this beautiful law of progressive development in nature, in literature, in the fine and in the useful arts, in human laws and institutions. But those who reason thus overlook the distinction between the apparent and the real progress of man. The true progress of man is the progress of mail's self, apart from all organisation. Those who eulogise modern progress confine their attention to what man does to promote his convenience and comfort. How absurd it is to mark the progress of a man by that which a man manipulates and moulds and makes subservient to his use! The Bible is the book for the soul, and God put into it exactly those truths that He knew were calculated to regenerate the soul. Unless the soul needs to be made over, and given new facilities, you do not want a new Bible, or any annex to the old one. There is another great distinction to keep in mind. While the Bible is fixed and will never be supplemented, the principles contained in it are admissible of universal and of endless application, and for that reason the Bible will never need to be supplemented. It is with the Bible as it is with nature. No new laws have been given to nature from the beginning. And yet how constantly are men discovering laws that for long ages were hidden from human eyes: and men of science will tell you that there are now many latent forces in nature awaiting the genius of the occasion when they shall be discovered and applied to the use of man. What the world wants is not a new Bible, or new principles, or new truths, but the recognition of the old, and the legitimate application of the old to the purposes for which they were intended. So when new forms of old errors arise, we do not want a new Bible to find new truths with which to antagonise these old errors. The fact is, there are no new forms of scepticism. We do not need any other Bible, or a supplement to the old, because the Bible is a book that has a friendly voice and a helping hand to every race. Here is a book equally adapted to the Oriental and the Occidental mind; adapted alike to the Mongolian and the Circassian mind; adapted to all the different divisions into which society is. divided. The Bible is sufficient for the world's need, because it goes down to the very foundation of man's mental and moral structure, and takes hold of that which is sinful in his soul's life. As long as sin and sorrow are in the world, so long will this book take hold of that which is deepest, and truest, and profoundest in the soul's immortal life. And the Bible gives us a perfect ideal in the character of our blessed Saviour. Moreover, we do not need a new Bible, because we do not want any new motives to the practice of the greatest virtue.

(Moses T. Hoge, D. D.)

"The law of the Lord" is the Bible phrase for describing the duty which God requires of man. This law embraces all those principles by which our inward life of disposition and desire and our outward life of word and action ought to be guided. It is an expression of the Divine will respecting human conduct. But perhaps the most correct view of the Moral Law is that contained in a sentence which has often been used in the pulpits of Scotland, "the Law is a transcript of the character of God." Justice and truth and love are the very elements, so to speak, of His own moral being; they have an inherent rightness, and so, while it is true that they are right because He wills them, a deeper truth is that He wills them because they are right. In other words, while the authority of the law rests upon the Divine will, the law itself has its basis in the Divine nature. The law of the Lord is woven into the very nature of the universe. It is graven in indelible lines on the conscience of man. But we must turn to the Holy Scriptures for the fullest exhibition of the Moral Law. The Bible, however, is not a hand book of morals after the common style. We do not find in it a systematic exposition of law for national or individual life; and even those parts of it which, to some extent, have this appearance, come far short of being a full expression of the perfect law. The Mosaic economy, for example, looked at in the light of the higher attainments and the wider wants of Gospel times, is admittedly an imperfect economy on its moral as well as on its ceremonial side. No one would dream of introducing into modern law its enactments respecting (to take a case) usury or divorce. In the same way the moral lessons taught by those histories of nations and individuals of which the Bible is largely composed are often doubtful. All this impresses us with the necessity of some guiding principle to enable us to gather from the rich variety of Holy Scripture the law of God — His will for our guidance. Where, then, shall we go for this guiding and testing principle? We answer without hesitation — to Jesus Christ Himself. The chief cornerstone of the Church is also the chief cornerstone of Christian morality. He came "to show us the Father," and so in Him, in His own character and conduct and teaching, we have the clearest and most authoritative revelation of the Father's law. We cannot overestimate the value of having the law of God exhibited in a life as opposed to any statement of it in words. Ill the life of our blessed Lord, as recorded in Holy Scripture and interpreted to His followers by the Holy Spirit and by the providence of God, we have the final standard of moral theory and practice. He is the incarnate Law. Having defined what the law of the Lord is, we pass on to see wherein its perfection lies, and for one thing, it exhibits the quality of harmony. Every lover of art knows that the chief excellence of a painting lies in the consistency of its various parts and their subordination to the main design. A similar principle applies to music. What is true of beauty presented to the eye or ear holds good of truth and righteousness, the beauty which the mind only can perceive. The ultimate test of any new doctrine lies in its harmony with those Scripture. sustained convictions which we have already formed. The law of the Lord has this crowning element of perfection — it is a harmonious unity whose parts never jar or clash. Of course, we are quite familiar with the objection that one precept of Holy Scripture sometimes comes into antagonism with other precepts. The obedience which a child owes to God, for example, can only be rendered sometimes by disobedience to a parent whom God has commanded the child to obey. We revert to our definition of the law, and reply that this objection confounds the law which is perfect and eternal with particular commandments which are from the nature of the case inadequate and temporary expressions of the law. The commandment may be inadequate, for it is only the verbal form in which the spiritual principle is clothed, and the letter can never exhaust or completely unfold the spirit. The commandment, moreover, may be only the temporary form of the eternal law. The Decalogue is indispensable on earth, but how many of the relations which it is intended to regulate will have ceased to exist, or be radically changed, in heaven! Thus the particular precepts of the law may be temporary, but the law of the Lord which is perfect abides in all its force wherever intelligent beings are.

(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.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

By the law we may understand the entire written Word.

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).

5. Peter.

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.

(J. Allport.)

It was not in the material heavens, which with all their grandeur the Psalmist had been contemplating, that he found the lesson of perfection. He turned from them to the law of the Lord, and there he found it. With all that the contemplation of nature is able to do, it cannot regenerate the spirit. Neither poetry nor philosophy can help man in the great exigencies of life. None of them can do any good to a dying man. The damps of the sepulchre put out their light. Nor is this to be wondered at. The works of nature were not made to last; hence how can they teach lessons for immortality? They may serve man in many ways here, and aid his piety too, if he be a converted man. But they will never convert him. Man needs the Bible to convert him to God and to fit him to die. This truth has to be insisted on in our day which speaks so much of "the light of nature," and which subjects the Bible to its pretended discoveries. But we maintain that it is insufficient, and for proof we appeal —

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.)

The text might be read, "The doctrine of the Lord is perfect restoring the soul."

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.)

There are two methods which God has taken for instructing mankind. He has taught them by the glories of creation and by the words of Holy Scripture. But man as a sinner has no ear to hear the voice of God in His works. It is only by the revealed works of Scripture that he can find the way of pardon and holiness.

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.)

Trees are known by their fruit, and books by their effect upon the mind. By the "law of the Lord" David means the whole revelation of God, so far as it had been given in his day. It is equally true of all revelation since. We may judge by its effects upon our own selves.

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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