The Voice of Jehovah in His Word
Psalm 19:8-14
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The Prophet Isaiah, in his forty-fifth chapter, and in the eighth and ninth verses, refers both to the work of God's hands in the world which he has created, and to the words of his lips in the promises he has made; and in both cases it is said, "not in vain" "Not in vain" is the earth formed; "not in vain" is the promise uttered. In both there is a Divine aim and purpose. That antithesis between the works and the Word of God is more ancient than Isaiah's day. It goes back to the time of Moses, who in the ninetieth psalm speaks to God as the Ever-living One, the Framer of the earth, and yet the Refuge of his people. And between Moses and Isaiah, in this nineteenth psalm we have the like distinction drawn. Its first six verses refer to God's works in the world, the rest, to his words in the Word. Seven lines of exposition are required for their unfolding.

I. THE HEAVENS SPEAK OF GOD; THE WORD DECLARES JEHOVAH. It is too commonly supposed that the use of the several words "Elohim" and "Jehovah" indicates a difference either of date, of document, or of authorship. There does not seem to us to be any adequate ground for such distinctions. As we in one and the same sermon or tract may use a dozen different names for God, why may it not have been so of old? The word "Elohim" indicates God as the God of nature. The word "Jehovah" points to him as the revealed God of our fathers. And it is from our own revealed God that the Word proceeds, from the depths of his heart; it is far more than any works of his hands. Hence the change of the word "God" to the word . "Jehovah."

II. JEHOVAH, THE REVEALED GOD, HAS PUT BEFORE US PRICELESS MATERIAL FOR OUR USE. There are six various terms to indicate this. Law; or the great body of truth in which God would have his people instructed. Testimony; or the Divine declaration as to what he is, has done, is doing, and will do. Statutes; or precepts, which indicate specific duty. Commandments; or rules for the regulation of the entire life. Fear; i.e. that fear of him, so repeatedly enjoined, and which in an infantine age was the predominant view of duty towards God. Judgments; the right-settings, in the Divine declarations pronounced against sin and in favour of righteousness. Let us put all these together, and lo! how rich are we in having all these voices from the eternal throne! But how much richer still are we in having the words of the New Testament economy superadded to those of the old!

III. THE WORDS OF JEHOVAH ARE AS REMARKABLE FOR QUALITY AS FOR VARIETY. The very names given to them are inspiring: "perfect," "sure," "right," "pure," "true," "righteous," "standing fast." These several terms may be gathered up into three - true in statement, right in direction, everlasting in their duration. Even so. In the words of God we have absolute truth. In the precepts of God we have perfect directories for life and duty. And we know that, change what may, time is on our side, for "the Word of the Lord endureth for ever" Note: The words of God in the Bible are the only ones to which these epithets apply. Then it will be a very serious mistake if in school education or family training we ever allow the Bible to be crowded out or set on one side. For we must note -

IV. THAT THE WORDS OF GOD ARE ADDRESSED TO THE INNERMOST PART OF OUR NATURE. (Ver. 7, "the soul.") Although this word, in Hebrew, is very frequently used in as free and popular a sense as it is with us, yet, on the other hand, it often denotes the highest part of our nature - even that which pertains to spirit, conscience, and to the regulation of the moral life of man. Such is the case here; as, indeed, the marvellous effects of the Divine Word (as pointed out under the next heading) plainly indicate. So much is this the case, that the Word is regarded even here as "dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, of the joints and marrow," and as a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." The Old Testament conceptions of man and of sin are very deep and very solemn. As the late Dr. Duncan, Professor of Hebrew, rightly remarked, "The Hebrew language is peculiarly rich in religious and moral terms, though scanty enough in others. The reason is evident - it chronicled a revelation."

V. THE EFFECT OF GOD'S WORDS ARE AS MARVELLOUS AS THEIR CONTENTS AND AIM. Some six of these are specified in the psalm. And one other is illustrated by its writer. The six effects referred to are:

1. Converting the soul. Restoring it, calling it back from its wanderings, and causing it to return to God and home.

2. Making arise the simple. Where the words of God arc read, studied, appropriated, by an honest and upright heart, they will lead in the way of understanding, and make wise unto salvation.

3. Rejoicing the heart, by their disclosures of God's glory, grace, wealth, and love. To those who drink in the Word, God is their "exceeding Joy."

4. Enlightening the eyes. This may mean either illumination or refreshment, restoring life and fainting energies (cf. 1 Samuel 14:24, 29). The former meaning, "illumination," is triply true; tot God's commandments enlighten a man concerning God, duty, and himself. There is nothing like the searching Word to reveal to us what we are.

5. Warning is another effect. The exhortations to good and the dissuasion from evil are standing menaces of the peril of refusing the one and choosing the other.

6. Reward. No one can follow the commandments of God without ensuring a rich, ample, constant recompense. Another effect of the Word of God is illustrated by the writer of this very psalm, who shows us the influence it had upon him. It awoke from him an earnest, prayerful response, awakened by the sight of himself which the commandment gave. The prayer is threefold - against involuntary, secret, and presumptuous sins. It is:

1. Cleanse me, which has a double meaning of" Pronounce me clean, and keep me so."

2. Keep me back. It is a prayer that the restraining grace of God may keep in subjection a wayward and impulsive nature.

3. Accept me. (Ver. 14.) It is an earnest prayer that at the moment the Word reveals his guilt, the grace of God may cover it with the mantle of forgiving love, and receive him in spite of all his guilt. And to this prayer there is appended an earnest plea. The praying one invokes two of the names of God in which the Old Testament saints were wont most to delight, "My Rock" and "my Redeemer." The word translated "Redeemer" is specially noticeable. It is Goel. (For illustrations of the use of the former word, see Deuteronomy 32:4, 31; 2 Samuel 22:32; Psalm 62:2, 6, 7; Psalm 73:26; Isaiah 26:4. Of the latter, see (in Hebrew) Numbers 35:12, 19, 21, 24, 25, 27; Job 19:25; Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 43:14; Isaiah 60:16; Isaiah 63:16.) Note:

(1) How unspeakable is the mercy that, though our guilt might welt make us dread the approach to a holy God, yet his grace is such that we may flee to him and find deliverance there! The same Word which unbares our sin also reveals his grace.

(2) The revelation of God through the stars will not suffice for us; we want the word of promise too.

(3) Those who most luxuriate in the Word should also, more than others, luxuriate in the works of God.

(4) Those who accept both know perfectly well that nothing in the book of nature can run counter to the book of grace. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

WEB: Yahweh's precepts are right, rejoicing the heart. Yahweh's commandment is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The Spiritual Nature and Enlightening Efficacy of the Moral Law
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