Drippings of the Honeycomb (Psalm 19:7-14)
I have written in a variety of places (both books and articles) on Psalm 19, so I trust you'll indulge me yet one more time as I reflect on this magnificent portrayal of the beauty and power of God's Word. The following observations are adapted from my book Pleasures Evermore (Chapter Nine).
In Psalm 19:7-11 we find six declarations that tell us what the Bible is and does: six nouns, six adjectives, six verbs. The focus is on the identity (the nouns), the quality (the adjectives), and the function (the verbs) of Scripture.
First, "the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul" (v. 7a). As for its identity, it is a law, or instruction, pointing us in the direction of what is right and away from what is wrong. It does this perfectly, without the slightest defect, never lacking what is needed to address our circumstances. Its function is to revive our souls, to refresh and renew and to remind us that the pleasures of obedience to God's law are delightfully superior to all rival claims that would lead us in another direction.
Second, "the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" (v. 7b). Scripture is the record of God's own witness to who he is and what he will provide for us in Jesus. This testimony is sure, which is to say it is true in principle and verifiable in life's situations. The Bible takes the undiscerning, naïve and gullible person and makes him wise. He who is immersed in the Word is equipped to choose wisely where no explicit direction is found.
Third, "the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (v. 8a). God's rules are never wrong. We can always rely on them to provide truth and accuracy. She whose heart is fixed on the precepts of the Lord is never at the whim of public opinion polls or the fickle fluctuations of human advice. In God's precepts one finds cause for joy and reason for rejoicing. This is God's remedy for a sinking, sad, broken heart. If your heart is sour and embittered and could use an injection of joy, memorize and meditate and mull over God's precepts.
Fourth, "the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (v. 8b). That word "pure" may also be rendered "radiant" (NIV). God's commandments shine and shimmer and glow and glimmer. They are brilliant and bright and dispel the darkness of human ignorance and senseless advice.
Here we see again the inseparable link God has forged between Word and Spirit. "God has ordained that the eye-opening work of his Spirit always be combined with the mind-informing work of his Word. His aim is that we see the glory of his Son (and be changed). So he opens our eyes when we are looking at the Son - not at soaps or sales. The work of the Spirit and the work of the Word always go together in God's way of true spiritual self-revelation. The Spirit's work is to show the glory and beauty and value of what the mind sees in the Word" (Piper, "Wonderful Things From Your Word," 1-11-98, www.desiringgod.org).
Fifth, "the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever" (v. 9a). David has in mind that fear of God that the Bible produces in us. It is clean both in terms of its essence and its impact on our hearts. Its power and purpose never end; we can always count on God's Word to do its work; God's Word does not change with the seasons or with fashions; it is always "in"!
Finally, "the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether" (v. 9b). What God says in his word is never false or off the mark. His Word is the only barometer for reality. One need never again live in doubt and hesitation concerning what is righteous. Guesswork is gone. The certainty of God's Word is our foundation.
And the best part of all? The Word of God brings us satisfaction and joy and delight so that we will not be enticed and tempted by the passing pleasures of sin. The laws and precepts and commandments of God's Word are more to be desired "than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward" (vv. 10-11).
Yes, there is "great reward" in the treasuring of God's Word in our hearts. For starters, there are the six things just noted: God's Word rewards you with restoration of your soul, wisdom for your walk, joy for your heart, enlightenment for your eyes, truth you can count on, and the provision of righteousness. Wow!
Psalm 19 isn't the only place we find this truth. Consider these texts:
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Joshua 1:8).
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night" (Ps. 1:1-2).
"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (Ps. 119:11).
"I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways" (Ps. 119:15).
"Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes" (Ps. 119:23).
"I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love; and I will meditate on your statutes" (Ps. 119:48).
"Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts" (Ps. 119:78).
"O how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Ps. 119:97).
"I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation" (Ps. 119:99).
"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Ps. 119:103).
"My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise" (Ps. 119:148).
Boring? Tedious? Hardly! When the seed of the Word sinks its roots deeply into our souls, the fruit it yields is sheer gladness. The psalmist declares him "blessed" who "greatly delights" in God's commandments (Ps. 112:1).
In the hymnic celebration of God's Word, Psalm 119, we read of him finding more joy in God's testimonies than in all riches and what they might buy (Ps. 119:14). He committed himself to "delight" in God's statutes (Ps. 119:16,24,35,47,70,77) and to relish the joy they bring even in the midst of affliction (Ps. 119:92,143).
In summary, says Piper, "the challenge before us . . . is not merely to do what God says because he is God, but to desire what God says because he is good. The challenge is not merely to pursue righteousness, but to prefer righteousness. The challenge is to get up in the morning and prayerfully meditate on the Scriptures until we experience joy and peace in believing ‘the precious and very great promises of God' (Rom. 15:13; 2 Peter 1:4). With this joy set before us the commandments of God will not be burdensome (1 John 5:3) and the compensation of sin will appear too brief and too shallow to lure us" ("How Dead People do Battle with Sin," 1-1-95, www.desiringgod.org).
Hungry for the honey,