The Voice of Creation and The Word of God (Psalm 19:9-11)
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. —Psalm 19:9-11
Psalm 19 begins with our eyes heavenward. Look! God is revealing a glimpse of His glory through what is visible in the universe. When the first pictures of far-away galaxies were transmitted back to earth from the Hubble telescope, words failed us. We tried, but could not capture in words the fearful, breathtaking depths of the beauty our eyes beheld. But even without words these images are saying volumes. God’s creation, the sun, moon, and stars are telling, declaring, pouring forth speech without words, and revealing knowledge without a voice—about Yahweh, His glory and His handiwork! How amazing and terrifying it will be to see Him in all His beauty and glory one day!
This revelation of God’s glory in the heavens can be seen daily every time the sun rises in the morning and every time the stars come out at night, and we “hear” from them that “God is!” Through this heavenly display, He beckons us and creates in our souls a yearning for His word—to be taught more of Him and for understanding. Our joy and expectation in knowing God through His word is heightened by the tangible expressions of His glory in creation. So now, this is where David takes us in Psalm 19—to Scripture, as he extols the perfections of the word of God in verses 7-11.
C.H. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David commentary on Psalm 19 helps us here (in italics):
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
Not merely the law of Moses, but the doctrine of God, the whole run and rule of sacred Writ. There are no redundancies and no omissions in the Word of God, and in the plan of grace… The gospel is perfect in all its parts and perfect as a whole. The practical effect of the Word of God is to turn the man to himself, to his God, and to holiness—
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
God bears His testimony against sin, and on behalf of righteousness; he testifies of our fall and of our restoration; this testimony is plain, decided, infallible, and is to be accepted as sure. What a blessing that in a world of uncertainties we have something sure to rest upon! We hasten from the quick sands of human speculations to the terra firma of Divine Revelation. Humble, teachable minds receive the word and are made wise unto salvation.
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
His precepts and decrees are founded in righteousness, and are such as are right or fitted to the right reason of man. As a physician gives the right medicine, and a counselor the right advice, so does the Book of God. Mark the progress: he who was converted was next made wise and is now made happy; that truth that makes the heart right then gives joy to the right heart.
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
No mixture of error defiles it, no stain of sin pollutes it; it is the unadulterated milk, the undiluted wine. It is purging away by its own purity the earthly grossness which mars the intellectual discernment: whether the eye be dim with sorrow or with sin, the Scriptures is a skillful oculist, and makes the eye clear and bright.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The doctrine of truth is here described by its spiritual effect—inward piety, or the fear of the LORD; this is clean itself, and cleanses out the love of sin, sanctifying the heart in which it reigns. “Enduring forever”—Filth brings decay, but cleanness is the great foe of corruption. The grace of God in the heart being a pure principle is also an abiding and incorruptible principle, which may be crushed for a time, but cannot be utterly destroyed.
The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
The “judgments of the LORD” —jointly and severally the words of the Lord are true; that which is good in detail is excellent in the mass; no exception may be taken to a single clause separately, or to the book as a whole. God’s judgments, all of them together, or each of them apart, are manifestly just and need no laborious excuses to justify them.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
Bible truth is enriching to the soul in the highest degree; the metaphor is one which gathers force as it is brought out; —gold—fine gold—much fine gold; it is good, better, best, and therefore it is not only to be desired with a miser’s avidity, but with more than that. As spiritual treasure is more noble than mere material wealth, so should it be desired and sought after with greater eagerness.
Sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
The pleasures arising from a right understanding of the divine testimonies are of the most delightful order; earthly enjoyments are utterly contemptible, if compared with them. The sweetest joys, yea, the sweetest of the sweetest falls to his portion who has God’s truth to be his heritage.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
We are warned by the Word both of our duty, our danger, and our remedy. On the sea of life there would be many more wrecks, if it were not for the divine storm-signals which give to the watchful a timely warning. The Bible should be our Mentor, our Monitor, our Memento Mori*, our Remembrancer, and the Keeper of our Conscience, Alas, that so few men will take the warning so graciously given, none but servants of God will do so, for they alone regard their Master’s will. *Latin—remember you must die
In keeping them there is great reward.
There is a wage, and a great one; though we earn no wages of debt, we win great wages of grace. Saints may be losers for a time, but they shall be glorious gainers in the long run, and even now a quiet conscience is in itself no slender reward for obedience. However, the main reward is yet to come, and the word here used hints as much, for it signifies the “heel”, as if the reward would come to us at the end of life when the work was done; —not while the labor was in the hand, but when it was gone and we could see the heel of it. Oh, the glory yet to be revealed! It is enough to make a man faint for joy at the prospect of it. Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Then shall we know the value of the Scriptures when we swim in that sea of unutterable delight to which their streams will bear us, if we commit ourselves to them.
Excerpts from Treasury of David: Exposition of the Psalms (Vol I, Section 1) by C.H. Spurgeon, pgs 273-275.