Psalm 19:10 "More are they to be desired than gold. Yea, then fine gold. And sweeter than the honey in the honeycomb."
In his memoirs, "The Secret of Our Survival: A Former Vietnam POW’s Story of Faith", US Air Force Captain James E. Ray described how the Bible kept him and fellow POW’s in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" death camp alive - they began sharing Bible verses with each other: "Our common denominators were the Bible and Jesus Christ, and we were able to share and write down a great deal of Scripture. For by now it had become vital to our daily existence. Often racked with dysentery, weakened by the diet of rice and thin cabbage and pumpkin soup, our physical bodies had shrunk within the prison walls. We spent 20 hours a day locked in our cells. And those Bible verses became rays of light, constant assurances of His Love and care."
How was memorizing the Bible able to sustain these men in such a hopeless, devastating situation? In Psalm 19:7-9, God explains this to us. Verse 7a says "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul."
The word ‘perfect’ means comprehensive, and ‘converting the soul’ means ‘transforming from the inside out’. God promises His law is so totally comprehensive that whatever the condition of my soul, His Word can transform me to the very core of who I am as a person.
Psalm 19:7b then says "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple". This is the only place in all the Psalms that word ‘testimony’ is used. God is bearing witness to Himself, as if raising His hand and solemnly taking an oath. The word ‘sure’ is used here like the word ‘amen’. God is saying that everything He, in His word, tells it like it is. The word for ‘simple’ means a ‘simpleton’, a person who has no capacity to discern right from wrong, who value what is worthless and disdain what is priceless. God is saying that His testimony is so ‘amen’ that it can take a simpleton, who cannot discern right from wrong, and make them skilled at daily living.
Psalm 19:8a says "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart." Life is a maze of choices everyday, and God’s principles set the right path to navigate so we don’t get lost.
Psalm 19:8b says "The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." The word ‘pure’ is like our phrase ‘crystal clear’ – it means without any impurity. And ‘enlighten the eyes’ means that any person who picks it up can understand it.
Psalm 19:9a says "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever". Here, the ‘fear of the Lord’ refers to my heart attitude of reverence toward God. And ‘clean’ means His Bible is full-strength from cover to cover. When God uses the phrase ‘enduring forever’, He means that although circumstances change, world leaders come and go, the Bible is always current and stable in our toughest times because it deals with two things that never change: 1) the God who made us; 2) the needs of our heart.
And finally, Psalm 19:9b says "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether". When God announces or executes a judgment, He isn’t operating according to His mood or personal circumstance. He is consistent, fair and precise.
That’s the secret behind the incredible story of Captain Ray and the POW’s. God’s promises in His Bible, when applied in my life, can not only help me survive in this life, but allow me to thrive regardless of my circumstances. Are you reading His Word everyday?
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called "Faith: Substance and Evidence." He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.