Psalm 1 presents the blessed man as one who delights in the law on the LORD and meditates of his law, day and night (Ps 1:2). As we meditate on God’s law we will come to delight in God’s law. In Psalm 19:7-9, David gives us reason to meditate and delight in the law of the LORD. He identifies various characteristics and effects of God’s Word. The first is this,
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.(Ps 19:7a)
“The law of the LORD is perfect.” This means it is complete and final. Nothing can be added, altered, or removed. As the Westminster Confession of Faith puts it: “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” (WCF 1.VI)
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” God’s Word is life-giving. The prophet Isaiah compares the Word of God to rain and snow, which comes down from heaven and waters the ground, causing it to bring forth and sprout, providing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry (Is 55:10). Isaiah then declares that God’s Word accomplishes the purpose for which he gives it (Is 55:11), and that purpose is life: “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live” (Is 55:3a).
The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 3:21 that the law cannot give life, so how can David say the law of the LORD revives the soul? Paul gives us the answer in 2 Corinthians 3:6: “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Apart from the Holy Spirit, the Bible is a dead letter proclaimed to dead people; however, the Word of God is life-giving because it is given by the Spirit of God and received by the Spirit of God. The Bible is the instrument by which the Spirit revives the soul. As John Calvin writes, “God employs his Word as an instrument for restoring our souls.” Thus, when Paul writes to the Thessalonians, he gives thanks, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in Word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess. 1:4-5).
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” This has implications for evangelism. The Word translated “revive” also carries the sense of conversion. That’s why some English translations read “the law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul” (e.g., KJV). It’s the Word of God spoken in the power of the Spirit that brings about the conversion of sinners. It’s God’s Word, not our words that bring salvation. Charles Spurgeon reminds us, “It is God’s Word rather than man’s comments on God’s Word which is made mighty with souls.” This should encourage us in our evangelism. We can proclaim the Gospel with confidence and boldness because it’s the Spirit of God by the Word of God, who revives and converts the hearts of men.