Psalm 1 presents the blessed man as one who delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law, day and night (Ps 1:2). As we study and keep God’s law we will come to delight in God’s law. In Psalm 19:7-9, David gives us reason to obey and delight in the law of the LORD. He identifies various characteristics and effects of God’s Word. In this note, I continue our series of reflections on Psalm 19:7-9 by considering verse 8b:
The commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes.
“The commandment of the LORD is pure.” In verse 7, David declares that the law of LORD is perfect, which means it is complete and final. Nothing can be added, altered, or removed. The perfection of his law is complemented here by the purity of his command. Not only is God’s Word complete, it is without error or corruption. It is wholly pure and, therefore, holy. This is why we call it the Holy Bible. It is Holy Scripture from the Holy Spirit.
“The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” The pure command of the LORD enlightens our eyes. Without the light of Scripture, our vision is blurred. Enlightenment here cannot be reduced to our intellect. The illumination of Scripture is intellectual, moral, and spiritual. The commandment of the LORD reveals what is true, right, good, beautiful, and glorious. It reveals who we truly are and it reveals who God truly is.
In the 18th century, many in the West put their confidence in human reason, rather than Scripture. As they saw it, the rational faculties of man are pure, enlightening the eyes. Putting our faith in human reason does not bring enlightenment. On the contrary, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs14:12; 16:25). We cannot trust our own reason, because sin has infected our hearts. We’re not pure: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. Scripture corrects our vision and illuminates our way: “For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness” (Psalm18:28) and “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm18:28). This is why the motto of Oxford University is Dominus illuminatio mea – “The Lord is my light” (Psalm 27:1). O that our educational institutions would recover this motto! Only the light of God’s Word can guide us along the path of life. To ignore his command is to take a path of darkness that leads to death.
Finally, the command of the LORD is enlightening because it points us to Christ, who is the “end of the Law” (Romans 10:4). Scripture leads us to the incarnate Word and “in him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). Scripture is the pure witness to the loves pure light, who says to us, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).