“The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. You, O LORD, will keep them…Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (Psalms 12:6-7; Proverbs 30:5-6)
As we begin a study on “words,” we will examine the characteristics of God’s words in Scripture and what they reveal about the Lord. As I write about the words of God I am referring strictly to Scripture, and not to any “voice” you may think you hear from God in prayer or otherwise. While it is true that God spoke audibly to his prophets, kings, and apostles in the past, before the Bible was complete, I hold to the doctrine that the Bible is now the only and completely sufficient voice of God for us. “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”
Psalms 119 teaches us a great deal about God’s words. The psalmist’s comparison of them to silver, purified seven times is hyperbole that should give us pause. According to Britannica online, silver melts when heated to 1,764 °F.; even so, sterling silver is still only 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. (1) God’s words are flawless, which is hard for us to grasp since nothing on this earth is perfectly pure; sin corrupted all creation in the Fall (Romans 8:22). How can we keep, obey, or protect God’s words if we are also perverted by sin? We cannot do it. Only the Lord can preserve his Word, and protect it from misuse, and exploitation in the way that seems best to him. Yes, there are many Christians and non-Christians who use and manipulate Scripture for their own glory, financial gain, or convenience and ease of preaching. This has been the case since the beginning of time, when Satan did so in the Garden of Eden, with Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” and “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:1, 4) Another example is when Satan tempted Jesus by misinterpreting Scripture (Matthew 4:6).
But God’s words have the power to defeat Satan. Jesus quoted Scripture appropriately three times, once for each temptation. He thwarted Satan’s attempt to convince him to avoid the cross and suffering, his messianic calling, and our spiritual salvation. God’s words shielded Jesus and will protect us. His Word is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). With it, we have an offensive weapon to strike down false teaching, legalistic rhetoric, and non-gospels, masquerading as the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is that pure word of God: “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-14)
The words of the Lord were preserved not for the unbelieving Jewish leaders of Jesus time, but for us. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” (Psalms 119:130) Lord, let us rejoice in the purity of your Word as we hear it proclaimed today.