The Superiority of Scripture (Phil Johnson)

Psalm 19   |   Sunday, January 11, 2015   |   Code: 2015-01-11-PJ

Psalm 19, and the key section here on the sufficiency of

Scripture is verse 7 through verse 11. That's where I want to

focus. That is the definitive text on the superiority and

sufficiency of Scripture. But we can't consider those verses

alone in isolation this morning. In order to understand fully

what the Psalmist is saying, I want to take a broad look at the

whole Psalm. (By the way, David is the author of this

psalm,) So we'll cover the whole psalm, and by setting verses

7-11 in their full context, I want to show you why that

passage is so foundational to what we believe about


This is an expansive psalm about how God reveals

Himself. It features two major ways God has made Himself

known. First, in verses 1-6, it says God has revealed His

glory in nature. Then in the second half of the psalm, David

speaks of God's self-revelation in His Word. Let me read the

whole psalm, and then we'll look closely at those two

stanzas. Note the shift between the two stanzas at verse 7:

1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens

declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his


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2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals


3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is

not heard.

4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their

words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for

the sun,

5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit

to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its


7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the

testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the


9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules

of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine

gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the


11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping

them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from

hidden faults.

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13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be

blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my

heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and

my redeemer.

So there are two parts to that psalm, and each focuses on a

different aspect of divine revelation. Theologians label these

general revelation and special revelation. They are like two

separate volumes of a single workCboth written by the same

author, both containing the same message, but each dealing

with the message in a different way. And the theme is the

glory of God.

Keep that illustration in mind: two books, same Author,

one consistent message. We'll come back to it, because I

want to correct a common misperception about the two-book

analogy. But first, lets talk about these two means of divine


General revelation shows us God's glory in a vivid display

that can be seen in every dimension of creation, and special

revelation unveils for us the full panorama of redemptive

truth as it is given to us in God's Word. The psalmist is

making both a comparison and a contrast between the two.

Both nature and Scripture reveal God to us, but they do it in

different ways. One is natural; the other supernatural. One is

universal and obvious to every creature; the other (in the

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words of 1 Corinthians 2:9-10) contains "'What no eye has

seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God

has prepared for those who love him'Cthese things God has

revealed to us through the Spirit." That, of course, is speaking

of the truth that is revealed and recorded for us in the Bible.

The scope of natural revelation is as vast as the universe

itself. It extends to the farthest reaches of the stars and

beyond, but it is also seen in the smallest molecular

structures. It doesn't matter if you look into a telescope or

into a microscope, you are confronted with an infinite

number of evidences that all display the glory of GodCHis

wisdom, His power, His skill as Creator, His love of beauty

and diversity and complexity.

Nature is a breathtaking and astonishing demonstration of

divine glory, no matter what perspective you see it from and

no matter how narrow or how broad the range of your vision.

It is impressive beyond words in every dimension and in

every detail. The glory of God is on display in vivid, intense,

and graphic detailCno matter where you turn your eyes.

And yet, the glory of God is even more clear, more

impressive, more majestic, and more remarkable the way we

see it in Scripture. Here's the point David wants us to take

away from this psalm: Special revelationCthat which is

contained in propositional statements printed in ink on paper,

and bound up in a single volume you can hold in your

handCspecial revelation is in every way superior to the vast,

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sky-to-sky revelation of God in nature. And that is the theme

and the major lesson of this psalm.

Let's look at it in two points, which I'll give you here at

the start. Our outline, and the outline of this psalm, is simple,

just two points. So it ought to be very easy to organize your

notes this morning. In point 1, we will consider natural

revelation, the means by which God reveals His glory in the

skies. That will cover verses 1-6. And in point two, we will

consider supernatural revelation, the means by which God

reveals His grace in the Scriptures. That will cover verses


So (first things first) let's consider verses 1-6:



Verse 1: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky

above proclaims his handiwork." This is one of the key

passages in Scripture on natural revelation, affirming that all

nature is a great object lesson, showing the glory and

faithfulness and wisdom of our creator in a vivid display.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. It is a

wonderful truth. God built into His creation a brilliant

reflection of His glory, so that when we see breathtaking

scenes in nature, or when we think about the world of living

organisms that are in a drop of pond water, or whenever we

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ponder any of the glories of the universe, our minds ought to

turn naturally to the glory of the Creator.

In fact, the only way anyone can look at the wonders of

the universe and not be struck by the glory of the creator is

by deliberately suppressing the knowledge of God that is

inborn in every human heart. God is so clearly revealed in

his creation that people must be willfully blind to see all that

He has made and turn away in unbelief or skepticism. But

that is precisely what all people do. Even you and I do it to

some degree or another, and I'll show you that in a moment.

But first, look at what the psalm is sayingCand notice

how clear and comprehensive and pervasive the revelation of

God's glory in nature is. "The heavens declare the glory of

God." The sky is a preacherCand what a mighty preacher it

is! It is in every way more diligent, more persistent, and

more far-reaching than any other preacher, because it

preaches at all times (v. 2); in all tongues (v. 3); and in all

territories (v. 4). Pay special attention to verses 2-4, and let's

see what David is saying about the universal scope of natural


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1. Nature speaks at all times (v. 2). "Day to day pours out

speech, and night to night reveals knowledge." Nature is

constantly speaking forth the glories of God. You can see it

at night in the starry expanse of the heavens. And you can

see it in the daytime in the beauties of nature, from the whole

world of microscopic marvels that swim in a droplet of pond

water, to the intricate beauties of a blooming flower, to the

awesome spectacles of the mountains, the oceans, Niagara

Falls, the Grand Canyon, the Sahara Desert, or literally any

place on earth. Everywhere you look, nature is filled with

wonders that declare God's glory, his wisdom, His majesty,

His immensity, and His power.

We have a couple of astronaut friends, Barry Wilmore and

Jeff Williams. Jeff's been in space three timesConce on the

Space Shuttle Atlantis, and he did two six-month stints in the

International Space station. He's preparing for a third

six-month stay up there next year. He told me once the

opening verse of this psalm is the thought that continually

runs through his head. And when you see the pictures he has

taken and hear him describe the immense majesty of space

and the beauty of this world, you can't help experiencing it

just a little bit vicariously.

You and I pay for NASA's photography with our tax

money, and it's one of the few government projects I am

thrilled to support. Because they keep a large archive of

high-def digital photos online that you can download for

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free. You ought to look at some of those photos and expand

your brain about the glory of God in nature. Two things

impress me. One is how close and how large the earth looks

in pictures taken from the Space Station. It doesn't seem like

that thing is far enough away to escape most of the earth's

gravitational pull. It's in orbit about 268 miles up. That's

shorter than the distance from here to San Jose. So in all the

photos that are pointed at earth, the earth looks almost like

you could reach out and touch it.

But when the camera is pointed away from earth, you get

the opposite impression. One of the really astonishing things

about outer space and the inconceivably enormous size of the

universe is how small and relatively insignificant earth is. As

David said in Psalm 8:4: "What is man that you are mindful of


And you know what? You can see equally awesome

wonders anywhere you look, if you pay attention. Ponder the

complexity of a single insect, the number and diversity of so

many stars and planets, or as Darlene does almost every day,

marvel at what a spectacular scene you have in almost every

sunrise or sunset. Day to day, night to night, every single

facet of nature is equally amazing.

Nature speaks at all times (verse 2). But not only thatC

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2. Nature speaks in all languages (v. 3). The heavens and the

firmament declare the glory of God in a way no one can

possibly miss. Verse 3: "There is no speech, nor are there

words, whose voice is not heard." The language of natural

revelation is non-verbal, and therefore universal. No matter

what language you speak, nature communicates its truths

clearly. The same divine Creator is revealed to the

Cambridge scholar studying quantum physics as to the

uncivilized tribesman living in the deepest rain-forest. The

message is clear, across every human language barrier and

without any kind of translation. You can ignore it or try to

suppress it, but you can't avoid it. And it doesn't need to be

explained. It clearly reveals a superior power and a superior

intellect. It clearly shows the limitless expanse of infinitude,

which is something we could otherwise never imagine or


So nature speaks at all times and in all languages. And


3. Nature speaks to all people (vv. 4-6). Listen again to verses


4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their

words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for

the sun,

5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

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6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit

to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its


In other words, the truth available in nature is already being

declared to the uttermost parts of the earth. No missionaries

are needed to carry natural revelation to remote areas. It's

already there. No one can hide from or escape the truth God

reveals Himself in nature. The glory of God is like the sun,

David says, reaching to every place on earth. No one can

claim ignorance; no one can say this truth was hidden.

But here is the amazing thing: Despite the clarity,

universality, and simplicity of general revelation, by itself it

is completely inadequate for salvation. No one ever comes to

God because they see Him revealed in nature.

Did you ever wonder how so many scientists can devote

their lives to the study of the marvels of creation and end up

believing that the entire universe sprang into being by

accident, with no intelligent cause? Do you sit there amazed,

as I do, when you watch the National Geographic channel or

Discovery channel, and see all these programs that feature

the fantastic details of God's creation, and then hear the

announcer try to explain how all this came into being purely

by random, on its own?

Seriously, it is utterly irrational and absurd to convince

yourself that everything happened without a cause and

without a reason. All the beauty, order, intricacy, and

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diversity in the universeCnot to mention all the

interdependent species of life, the perfect balance of the solar

system, and even intelligence itselfChow can anyone

possibly believe it all happened spontaneously, without a

cause, without a designer, without a plan, without any

meaning? Who could possibly believe that, unless it is

someone who is desperately and sinfully trying to suppress

every possible thought about God?

Scripture says it is the sinful tendency of all humanity to

do just that. People deliberately stifle their own consciences

and silence reason itself and tell themselves that it is more

rational to eliminate God from their thoughts. And that

tendency is universal, Scripture says. It is the principal sin of

every fallen, sinful mind. It is the wicked tendency from

which every other evil of humanity is hatched. It is

indescribably wicked. And everyone in the world is guilty of

this sin at one time or another and in some degree or another.

Left to ourselves, that is the course we would all choose.

The apostle Paul was quite clear about that. He began his

gospel presentation by declaring the guilt of all humanity. No

exceptions. And Paul's case begins with an assertion in

Romans 1 that all people are guilty first and foremost

because they have willfully rejected the truth about God that

is evident on the very face of all creation. Listen to Romans


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18 the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all

ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their

unrighteousness suppress the truth.

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them,

because God has shown it to them.

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power

and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since

the creation of the world, in the things that have been

made. So they are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as

God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their

thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools.

In other words, nature reveals a God of power and glory; a

God of order and infinite intelligence. "His eternal power and

Godhead" are perpetually on display in every single facet of

nature. You can close your eyes to it, but it is still there in the

very air you breathe.

In nature we can discern that God is a God of law, beauty,

wisdom, goodness, greatness, power, might, and excellence.

And it is the rejection of those truths about God that makes

every person culpable for sin. Furthermore, the rejection of

natural revelation is the first step in the tragic spiritual

decline that Paul spells out so graphically in Romans 1.

Listen also to what Paul said about natural humanity in 1

Corinthians 2:14: "The natural person does not accept the

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things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not

able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

In other words, fallen people by nature are so spiritually

obtuse, so insensitive to anything that is heavenly, so

undiscerning, so dull to the things of GodCso utterly dead in

our trespasses and sinsCthat we would miss the truth about

God entirely if He did not supernaturally intervene and

reveal Himself to us through some means other than nature.

Whenever I have preached on this subject, someone has

invariably asked, Are you sure there are no exceptions? Isn't

it possible that some people somewhere, cut off from the

truth of the gospel, will nevertheless turn to God and

embrace Him because they see the light of truth that's

revealed in nature?

I realize that idea is becoming increasingly popular these

days. More and more people want to believe that somehow,

people can be saved apart from hearing the gospel. But

Scripture is clear: no one is saved through general revelation

alone. The truth of nature saves no one. Only the message of

Christ can do that. Romans 10:14-15: "How then will they call

on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to

believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are

they to hear without someone preaching?

Rom 10:15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent?"

Two verses later, Romans 10:17: "Faith comes from hearing,

and hearing through the word of Christ." Then immediately

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after saying that, Paul himself raises the issue of general

revelation from right here in Psalm 19. Here's the very next

verse, Romans 10:18: "But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed

they have, for 'Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their

words to the ends of the world.' But I ask, did Israel not

understand?" And the answer he gives, basically, is that they

rejected what they did understand.

What Paul says there is true not only of Israel, but of all

humanity. General revelation alone is enough to condemn

those who reject itCand make no mistake; everyone rejects

it. But the truth revealed in nature is not enough to save.

Only the gospel "is the power of God unto salvation." Unless

the truth of ScriptureCand specifically, the saving gospel of

Jesus ChristCreaches the ears of sinners, there is no hope of

salvation. Verse 17 again: "So faith comes from hearing, and

hearing through the word."

David, in essence, is saying the same thing right here in

our psalm. He is celebrating the absolute necessity, the

absolute sufficiency, and the absolute superiority of the

ScripturesCthe written Word of GodC"special revelation" or

(as we're calling it here) "supernatural revelation." And that

brings us to point 2 (vv. 7-14)C

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This is the structure of the psalm: Verses 1-6 say God's

sovereign glory is revealed in the skies; verses 7-14 are

teaching that God's saving grace is revealed only in the

Scriptures. And that is why the Scriptures are so utterly

superior to the revelation of God we see in nature.

Now understand; David is in no way denigrating the

wonder and the glory of natural revelation. This in no way

diminishes the grandeur and the majesty of what we see in

nature. What it does is elevate Scripture to an even higher


My astronaut friends have the best perspective on general

revelation of anyone I can imagine. Think how amazing it

would be to walk in space and see the entire earth floating in

space at your feet and the vast expanse of the heavens

overhead. (Or vice versa, because, after all, you'd be

weightless. And from my perspective, that weightlessness

would be the most amazing part of the experience.)

And yet, what David is saying is that the glories of

Scripture are even greater than all the wonders of nature

combined. Scripture is more sublime, more full of wonders,

more breathtaking in its splendor and brilliance than all the

infinite wonders of nature combined. That's what David says

in verses 7-11, the very heart of this psalm. Between the two

kinds of revelation, natural revelation and supernatural

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revelation (the book of nature and the book of

Scripture)Cthe written Word of God is the superior form of


And I want to get back to this analogy of two books. It's

an analogy that is much abused nowadays.

Have you ever heard this argument? "God gave us two

books: the book of Scripture and the book of nature. Both

are equally trustworthy. There is no possibility of a

contradiction between them. We should give equal weight to


That's the rationale given by people today who want us to

adapt our interpretation of Genesis to the prevailing opinions

of the scientific community. The argument may seem safe

and reasonableCand it is true up to the last sentence of that

statement. Natural and supernatural revelation are equally

trustworthy. They are in perfect agreement.

And, yes, it is the same God who speaks in both creation

and the Bible. "He cannot deny himself" (2 Timothy 2:13),

and He never lies, according to Titus 1:2 and a half dozen

more texts. So it is quite true that there is no possibility of

any contradiction between Scripture and natural

revelationCas long as both are properly understood.

But there is a major fallacy built into the popular

misconception that the two books of revelation are equal in

every way. Nature and Scripture are not equally sufficient.

They do not speak with equal power. They cannot

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communicate with equal clarity. And therefore they should

not be given equal weight.

In practice, those who like to argue that nature and

Scripture speak with equal authority typically are saying they

believe scientific opinion ought to be the judge and arbiter of

how we read Scripture. It never seems to work the other way


And what this misapplication of the "two books" analogy

does is keep the very notion of truth in constant flux. Here's

how it works in practice: Some esteemed astrophysicist or

paleontologist adds a few billion years to his estimate of the

age of the earth, and the evangelical two-book exegetes feel

obliged to adapt their interpretations of Genesis to

accommodate the latest theory.

The idea of two volumes is an analogy, not a canon of our

faith. And the analogy is helpful only as long as we bear in

mind that God did not literally give us "two books." He gave

us one book, together with an unimaginably grand display of

divine glory. That's the point of our psalm. Nature is a

perpetual exhibition of divine glory that transcends language

and location, but it does not convey explicit truth with the

same high-definition clarity and detail as Scripture. God's

written Word is full of clear propositions, precise doctrines,

careful explanations, eyewitness testimonies, and definitive

precepts. Nature, by contrast, communicates non-verbally.

(That's the whole point of verse 3 in our psalm.)

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Plus, the Word of God is eternal; everything in nature will

one day pass away. In the words of Hebrews 1:11-12, "They

will all wear out like a garment, like a robe [Christ] will roll them

up, like a garment they will be changed." Jesus Himself

emphatically declared the primacy of special revelation over

general revelation in precisely those terms. He said, "Heaven

and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away"

(Luke 21:33).

Creation is a product of God's Word. The two are not

equally ultimate. That truth is the very starting point of

genuine faith, according to Hebrews 11:3: "By faith we

understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so

that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."

And remember: according to Romans 10, faith comes

from hearing the Word, not from studying nature. Scripture

explains creation, not vice versa. Nature drives us to

Scripture for a true understanding of God and His ways, and

it is the Word of God that gives birth to faith. We are "born

again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the

living and abiding word of God" (1 Peter 1:23). "The word of

God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,

piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of

marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart"

(Hebrews 4:12). Nature, as vast and spectacular as it is, has

no such power.

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But here is the principal difference between the two kinds

of revelation, and this is the point of our psalm: Scripture is a

sufficient source of knowledge about God; nature is not.

Scripture contains everything necessary for spiritual life and

godliness. In fact, many of the truths most vital to fallen

humanity are revealed only in Scripture. That includes the

identity of the one True God, the tri-unity of the Godhead,

the deity of Christ, His one sacrifice for sins forever, His

exclusivity as the sole mediator between God and man, the

doctrine of justification by faith, and a host of related gospel

truths) and cannot possibly be discerned from nature.

Scripture alone can make us wise unto salvation; that cannot

be said of general revelation.

Scripture declares itself sufficient not only here in Psalm

19, but also in 2 Timothy 3:15-17, which says Scripture is

sufficient "to make you wise for salvation . . . that the man of

God may be competent, equipped for every good work." That

encompasses everything that pertains to life and godliness.

Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 4:6 says we are "not to go

beyond what is written"Cparticularly not when it comes to

the interpretation of Scripture and the formulation of


Bottom line: the two-equal-book argument as you hear it

in popular discourse today is a de facto denial of the

sufficiency of Scripture. Consider this: If you think Scripture

cannot be accurately interpreted except through the grid of

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current scientific opinion, then prior to the present

generation, no one in the history of the church ever correctly

understood even the opening verseCthe first and most

foundational statement of Scripture. That means if the

two-book theory is true, Scripture isn't clear enough for

simple people to understand correctly, and Scripture itself

teaches otherwise. That's the doctrine known as the

perspicuity of Scripture, the truth that Scripture is neither to

complex nor too mysterious for ordinary minds to grasp its

true meaning.

So the claim that general and special revelation are equal

in every sense is an untenable claim. To say that general and

special revelation should be given equal weight is a recipe

for error.

As wonderful as it is, natural revelation cannot give us

full knowledge of God. That is why God has given us His

Word, which reveals His glory even more clearly than all of

nature. Not only that, Scripture reveals God's grace and

salvation as well.

As I said, that's the point of this psalm. It's is not only

about the sufficiency of Scripture. It's also about the

superiority of Scripture. We extol the glory of God when we

see it displayed in nature, but as wonderful as the revelation

of God in nature is, Scripture gives us an even clearer view

of God's glory.

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That's why David says he loves Scripture more than

nature. Look at verse 10. Scripture is more valuable to David

than the most valuable thing nature could give himCgold.

And it is sweeter to him than the sweetest thing nature

offersChoney dripping fresh from the honeycomb.

This is really an amazing truth. Don't miss this, and don't

forget it. Next time you visit the Grand Canyon, or watch a

spectacular sunset, or fly over the Fjordlands in New

Zealand, or watch glaciers calving in Alaska, or step out of

the space shuttle from space with the full earth in viewCor

otherwise get your breath taken away by some awe-inspiring

display of God's glory in nature, while you are pondering the

glory of God and the fantastic way He has put that glory on

display for us to see in His creation, I want you to think of

this: Scripture does an even better job of putting God's glory

on display. The Bible shows us an even more impressive

array of the divine attributes. The truth of Scripture, if you

will receive it, is even more breathtaking than all the most

amazing scenes in nature.

That's the point of this psalm. Verses 7-10 exalt the

absolute sufficiency and superiority of Scripture and show

why the Bible gives us a better understanding of the glory of

God than all nature. Since John MacArthur has so fully

expounded these verses both in print and on tape, I'm not

going to try to cover every detail. Time wouldn't permit it,

anyway, even if we took a full six weeks to do it.

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But notice what David is saying about Scripture:

There are six statements. Each contains three elements.There

are six titles for Scripture. It is called law and testimony in

verse 7. It is called precepts and commandment in verse 8. It

is called fear and rules in verse 9. Those are all titles for

Scripture. This is classic Hebrew Parallelism.There are six

characteristics of Scripture, again two in each verse. It is

perfect; it is sure; it is right; it is pure; it is clean; it is

true.There are six benefits of Scripture. It revives the soul; it

makes wise the simple; it rejoices the heart; it enlightens the

eyes; it endures forever; and it is righteous altogether.There

are six occurrences of the covenant name of YHWH

translated in the phrase "of the Lord." Six times we are

reminded that the source of special revelation is God

Himself.Another way of saying all that is this: This short

passage gives us six descriptive titles of the Word of God,

six qualities of the Word of God, and six divine effects of the

Word of God. The parallelism of the poetry highlights the

names, the nature, and the effects of Scripture. And all these

expressions combined show both the utter

comprehensiveness of biblical sufficiency, and the reasons

why Scripture is absolutely superior as a witness and

testimony to the glory of God.

Why couldn't God reveal the way of salvation in nature?

The reason is simple: Our sin has so alienated us from God

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that we could not possibly know Him unless He

supernaturally revealed Himself to us. That was the most

immediate and dramatic effect of Adam's sin. Although

Adam had walked with God and fellowshiped with him face

to face, sin changed all that. Adam went into hiding. Then he

was expelled from the garden and from the presence of holy

God. Ever since the fall, all humanity has had to hide from

God in unholy terror. As sinners, we are unable to love God,

unable to enjoy His presence, and therefore unable to know

Him in a personal way. Romans 8:7-8: "For the mind that is

set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's

law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please

God." That is the essence of what it means to be spiritually


And that is why we need supernatural revelation and the

supernatural power of God's grace in order to be saved:

because we are spiritually dead. Left to nature alone, we

would be left eternally without hope, because our very nature

is so corrupted and defiled with sin that we are worthy only

of wrath and destruction.

That is why the religion of the Scriptures is from

beginning to end a supernatural religion. Although many

misguided souls have tried, there is no way to divest

Christianity of the supernatural element and still call it

Christianity. At the heart of our faith is the conviction that

our transcendent God has intervened to save us. He has

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personally and authoritatively interjected Himself into the

course of human events. He has overruled nature itself in

order to gain the salvation of men and women who would

otherwise be lost. And that truth, including the way of

salvation in Christ, could only be made known to us by

supernatural meansCspecial, prophetic revelation. That is

what we have in Scripture.

Scripture is unique. According to our passage, it is

perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. Think about what

that is saying. Since the curse of sin ruined the universe,

nothing in nature is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true.

But Scripture is all of those things.

Scripture is sufficient. Notice that it converts the soul,

makes us wise, gives us joy, and enlightens the eyes. That

covers every spiritual need exhaustively. It's another way of

saying what 2 Timothy 3:15-17 says: Scripture is able to

make us wise unto salvation, and then it equips us for every

good work afterward. There is no need for any other spiritual

resource besides the resources we find in Scripture. There is

nothing we need to know in the spiritual realm that is not

revealed to us clearly in the Bible. These statements are a

sweeping affirmation that the Bible contains and explains

everything that is essential for life and godliness.

If that is trueCand it isCthen it is folly for anyone to try to

supplement divine truth by looking elsewhere for truth to

advance our spiritual growth. We hear constantly about

The Superiority of Scripture 25

dreams and visions, private prophecies, Spirit-directed

impulses, words of knowledge, and whatnot. There is no

warrant in Scripture for us to pursue such things. When it

comes to spiritual truth, truth about God, redemptive truth,

and all other matters pertaining to life and godlinessCall

such truth is revealed in the Bible. The Bible alone is perfect,

sure, right, pure, clean, true, and righteous.

Now, before we wrap this up, let's look at a few questions

people often ask about the sufficiency of Scripture. These are

the kinds of questions I often get: "If Scripture is perfectly

sufficient, why does God reveal Himself in nature at all? Do

general and special revelation say different things? Does

natural revelation tell us any essential truth about God that

is not revealed in Scripture?"

Thomas Aquinas devised a whole system of "natural

theology" that began with principles drawn from nature. And

ever since then, the concept of natural theology has been

abused by people who find ways to twist nature to "prove"

whatever they want. That's the strategy behind the

two-equal-books argument. They're saying that if nature is a

form of revelation, then the observations of scientists have

equal authority with the teachings of Scripture. It goes much

further than Genesis and creation. Some use that argument as

a reason to try to integrate psychotherapy with Scripture in

counseling, and you know what a disaster that has been in

the spiritual life of the church. Some give it as an argument

Psalm 19 26

for ordaining women as pastors. Still others use it to justify

almost any and every idea that secular academicians and

unbelieving pundits might say is true or politically correct.

You've heard people say that "all truth is God's truth." Let

me give you a tip that might help you as you try to be

discerning and wise: that statement ("All truth is God's

truth") is true enough. But it's of no help whatsoever in

determining whether a specific idea is true or not. It's also

usually a red flag letting you know you're about to hear

something that could never be established or confirmed by

God's Word. And if you point that out, the person making the

claim will invariably try to make the argument that natural

revelation is just as good as special revelation.

If so, show them this passage. David is explicitly saying

that Scripture is betterCmore complete, more perfect, more

authoritative (more perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and

true)Cthan natural revelation. As marvelous as natural

revelation is, it cannot be equated with Scripture.

Scripture, not nature, is the starting point and the final test

of all truth. Nature can both illustrate and give evidence of

the truth about God that we find in Scripture, but it cannot

add anything that's essential. If it could, then David could

never say the Law of the Lord is "perfect."

Furthermore, nature, interpreted correctly, always agrees

with Scripture. Scripture explains nature, because it speaks

with more clarity, more power, and more authority. Scripture

The Superiority of Scripture 27

is more complete and more specific. Scripture alone can give

us the truth we need to be saved. And therefore we ought to

cherish Scripture and esteem it more highly than all the

treasures in the universe. That is exactly what our passage

means when it says this about the Scriptures: "More to be

desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also

than honey and drippings of the honeycomb."

Notice, in closing, what else Scripture can do that nature

is powerless to do: It rebukes and restrains our

sinCespecially the sins of our hearts, presumptuous sins, and

secret sins. Verses 11-13:

11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping

them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from

hidden faults.

13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be

blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

We only have time to point out a couple of things in those

verses. Notice, first of all, verse 11: "there is great reward" in

keeping the law. That doesn't merely promise a reward for

keeping the precepts of Scripture; it says there is great

reward in the act of obedience itself. That's true. The joy, the

blessedness, and the satisfaction of keeping God's Word is a

great reward in and of itself.

Psalm 19 28

Second, notice how David is concerned about secret and

presumptuous sins. That is the mark of genuine love for the

Word of God. It is the very opposite of the religion of the

Pharisees, who were only concerned about what could be

seen by other men. They made a pretense of loving the Word

of God, but they not only nullified God's Word by adding

their own traditions; they also showed utter contempt for the

Word of God by what they did in secret.

David's prayer reflects the very opposite spirit. Verse 14:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be

acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer."

That is the spirit of a heart that has seen the glory and the

grace of God revealed in Scripture. The view of God's glory

in nature can reduce us to silent, inexpressible awe. But the

view of God's glory in His Word is what it takes to make us

truly men and women after God's own heart.

May we seek the vision of that greater glory in God's

word, and may we learn to love the Word of God and

treasure the Word of God the way we shouldCabove all the

riches of heaven and earth.