30 Days in the Bible, Day 8: Psalm 19:7-14
[NOTE: In the “30 Days in the Bible” devotional, the reference for this is given as Psalm 10:7-14. It is actually Psalm 19:7-14. This is a typo on my part, and one I failed to correct before sending the document to be printed. I apologize for the error.]
We think of the Bible as a book, but it might be better to view it as a library. Not only are there 66 individual books in the Bible, written by 40 or more authors, but there is a variety of literary genres represented. There is narrative (stories), poetry, epistles (letters), wisdom (sayings), apocalyptic (strange-seeming writings about the future), and several other types of writing. Most books contain more than one kind of literature; for example, many prophetic books are written in poetic form. When we read Scripture, we are getting a cross-section of the kinds of writings that were written over 1500 years of history.
Despite all the differences in form and style, however, the Bible has one message to convey. Every genre brings out different aspects of that message, and we may find we appreciate some forms more than others. The Bible tells us about God, about His standards, about our condition, and about the way of salvation.
In the Old Testament, the Law was the revelation of God’s holiness and the terrible price that had to be paid for sin. Prior to the coming of Jesus to fulfill His earthly ministry and mission, the Law, with its sacrifices, showed that sin required the shedding of blood for forgiveness. The lambs, goats, and bulls that were sacrificed pointed to the ultimate sacrifice that would be made when Jesus went to the cross and sacrificed Himself for the forgiveness of our sins.
The psalmist here uses several words to describe the Word of God. Many of these words refer to aspects of the Law, including the word for Law (Torah) itself. He writes of statutes, precepts, commands, and decrees. While each of these terms has a slightly different shade of meaning, the idea that comes across is that whatever is written in the Word has an incredible value for us.
Perhaps more striking is the inclusion of “fear” in the list. We think of the “fear of the Lord” as our proper response to the majesty of God, not a fear that trembles afraid but one that recognizes our place in light of His glory. Here, though, the emphasis is probably more on the Word as what demands that reverential fear, the revelation of the Lord that calls us to come before Him with humility and holy respect. That use of the term fits in with the general structure of the poetry here.
Each word is connected to both an attribute and an effect:
1) The Law is perfect, which refreshes the soul.
2) The statutes are trustworthy, providing wisdom to those open to it.
3) The precepts are right, and a source of joy for the heart.
4) The commands are radiant, enlightening the eyes of our hearts.
5) The fear is pure, and eternally existing.
6) The decrees are firm, all of them righteous.
This could be a discussion for many posts, but the point is not to dissect the Word into its various component parts and assign them each a specific value, but to open up a larger, glorious vision of just what the Word is and does. As we continue to read and study the Word, may all of its parts continue to bless us in a variety of ways.