Please Support the Bible Translation Work of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
Psalm 19:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 The law of Jehovah is perfect,
restoring the soul;
the testimony of Jehovah is sure,
making wise the simple.
The law of Jehovah – Margin, doctrine. The word used here – תורה tôrâh – is that which is commonly employed in the Old Testament with reference to the law of God and is usually rendered “law.” The word properly means “instruction,” “precept,” from a verb signifying “to teach.” It is then used with reference to instruction or teaching in regard to conduct, and is thus applied to all that God has communicated to guide mankind. It does not here, nor does it commonly, refer exclusively to the commands of God, but it includes all that God has revealed to teach and guide us. It refers here to revealed truth as contra distinguished from the truth made known by the works of creation. Compare the note at Psa. 1:2. There are six epithets used in these verses Psa. 19:7-9 to describe the revealed truth of God, all referring to the same truths, but with reference to some distinct view of the truths themselves, or of their effect on the soul: to wit, law, testimony, statutes, commandment, fear, and judgments. Of the revealed truth of God, thus characterized by distinct epithets, a particular statement is first made in each case in regard to the truth itself as viewed in that special aspect, and then the effects of that revealed truth on the soul are described corresponding with that truth as so viewed. Thus, of the “law of Jehovah” it is said:
(a) that it is perfect,
(b) that it converts the soul;
Of the “testimony of the Lord”:
(a) that it is sure,
(b) that it makes the simple wise;
Of the “statutes of the Lord”:
(a) that they are right,
(b) that they rejoice the heart;
Of the “commandment of the Lord”:
(a) that it is pure,
(b) that it enlightens the eyes;
Of the “fear of the Lord”:
(a) that it is clean,
(b) that it endures forever;
Of the “judgments of the Lord”:
(a) that they are true and righteous,
(b) that they are more to be desired than gold, and that they are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb; that people are warned by them, and that in keeping them, there is great reward.
Is perfect – On the meaning of the word used here, see the note at Job_1:1. The meaning is that it lacks nothing in order to its completeness; nothing in order that it might be what it should be. It is complete as a revelation of divine truth; it is complete as a rule of conduct. As explained above, this refers not only to the law of God as the word is commonly employed now but to the whole of divine truth as revealed. It is absolutely true; it is adapted with consummate wisdom to the wants of man; it is an unerring guide of conduct. There is nothing there that would lead men into error or sin; there is nothing essential for man to know which may not be found there.
Restoring the soul – The particular illustration of the perfection of the law is seen in the fact that it “converts the soul;” that is, that it turns it from the ways of sin to holiness. The glory of the works of God – the heavens, the firmament, the sun, as described in the previous verses – is, that they convey the knowledge of God around the world, and that the world is filled with light and life under the genial warmth of the sun; the glory of the law, or the revealed truth of God, is, that it bears directly on the soul of man, turning him from the error of his ways. and leading him to pursue a life of holiness. It is not said of the “law” of God that it does this by its own power, nor can there be any design here to exclude the doctrine of the divine agency on the soul; but the statement is, that when the “law” of God is applied to the heart, or when the truth of God is made to bear on that heart, the legitimate effect is seen in turning the sinner from the error of his ways. This effect of truth is seen everywhere, where it is brought into contact with the heart of man. By placing this first, also, the psalmist may perhaps have intended to intimate that this is the primary design of the revelation which God has given to mankind; that while great and important effects are produced by the knowledge which goes forth from the works of God, converting power goes forth only from the “law” of God, or from revealed truth. It is observable that none of the effects here Psa. 19:7-12 ascribed to the revealed truth of God, under the various forms in which it is contemplated, are ascribed to the knowledge which goes forth from the contemplation of his works, Psa. 19:1-6. It is not scientific truth that converts men but revealed truth.
The testimony of Jehovah – The word used here – עדות ‛êdûth – means properly that which is borne witness to and is applied to revealed truth as that which God bears witness to. In reference to the truth of what is stated, he is the witness or the voucher; it is that which he declares to be true. Hence, the term is applicable to all that is revealed as being that which he affirms to be true, and the word may be applied to historical truths; or to precepts or laws; or to statements respecting himself, respecting man, respecting the way of salvation, respecting the fallen world. On all these subjects, he has borne witness in his word, pledging his veracity as to the correctness of the statements which are thus made. The word, therefore, refers to the whole of what is revealed in his word, considered as that to the truth of which he bears witness. The word is often used in this sense: Psa. 81:5; 119:14, 119:31, 36, 88, 99, 111, 129, 144, 157; Jer. 44:23. It is often also applied to the two tables of the law laid up in the ark, which is hence called “the ark of the testimony:” E. 16:34; 25:16, 21-22; 26:33; 30:26.
Is sure – Established, firm. That “testimony,” or that revealed truth, is not unsettled, vacillating, uncertain. It is so certain that it may be relied on; so well established that it cannot be shaken.
Making wise the simple – The word rendered simple – פתי pethı̂y – means simplicity, folly, Prov. 1:22; and then, simple in the sense of being open to persuasion, easily seduced: Prov. 7:7; 22:3; 27:12; Psa. 116:6. Then it means credulous, Prov. 14:15; and inexperienced, Psa. 19:7. Gesenius, Lexicon. The meaning here is evidently inexperienced in the sense of being ignorant or untaught. It refers to those who need spiritual guidance and direction and is applicable to men as they are by nature, as untaught or needing instruction, but with the idea that their minds are susceptible to impressions or are open to conviction. Those who are naturally destitute of wisdom, it makes wise. The statement is, that that testimony, or revealed truth, makes them wise in the knowledge of God or imparts to them real instruction.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews