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The Scriptorium

Perfect and Exceedingly Broad

And it's God's gift to us. Psalm 119.96

Psalm 119.89-96 (6)

Pray Psalm 119.96.
I have seen the consummation of all perfection,
But Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Psalm 119.95, 96.
Be Still, My Soul)
The wicked lie in wait to trouble me, but to Your testimonies I will cling!
In them perfection I delight to witness, to know the peace and joy to me they bring.
Your holy Word is broad exceedingly; my faith, my trust, my hope in You I sing!

Read Psalm 119.89-96; meditate on verse 96.


1. What did the psalmist see?

2. How did he describe God’s commandment?

I want to offer s slightly different translation of Psalm 119.96, one that is more in line with the literal Hebrew and that makes better sense than the NKJV.

First, a word of explanation. The NKJV inserts the word, “But”, in the second part of verse 96. However, as the italic of that word indicates, it is not in the Hebrew text. This is an interpretive decision, and I humbly submit it is both wrong and misleading. “But” is a conjunction of contradiction. Inserting it here puts the second part of verse 96 in opposition to the first, as if this were an antithetical parallelism (putting the two parts of the verse in opposition) rather than a synthetic one (combining the two into one whole idea). This is not only not necessary, but it also leaves us wondering, “What is that ‘consummation of all perfection’ the psalmist has seen?”

So let’s try this translation, all in a single line: “I have seen to the end (or consummation) of all perfection: Your exceedingly broad commandment.” This puts the second part of this parallel not in opposition to the first, but complementary to it and completing what part 1 only implies. It is the commandment of God – His Law and all His Word – which is perfect (cf. Ps. 19.7) – to reveal God’s character and will, direct our every step, equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3.15-17), serve as a lamp to our feet, both our every next step and the whole of our journey (Ps. 119.105), and bring us into the Presence of Jesus (Jn. 5.39). And it is exceedingly broad – providing wisdom and counsel for every aspect of life – and entirely perfect – which is why we must strive to “see to the end of it” (cf. Acts 20.27) and neither add to nor detract from it in any way (Deut. 29.29; 12.32; Rev. 22.18, 19).

And God has given this exceedingly broad and perfect Word to us! No wonder the psalmist says in the next verse, “Oh, how I love Your law!”

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
“Nothing is perfect except Your words” (Ps. 119.96 TLB).

“The whole of perfection is God’s Word” (Ps. 119.96 earlier translation TMM).

No buts about it!

“The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
purified seven times” (Ps. 12.6).

“Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” (Prov. 30.5).

“But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (Jer. 20.9).

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God stands forever” (Is. 40.8).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and
without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (Jn. 1.1-4).

Jesus is the whole of perfection, The Word.
Perfect and exceedingly all encompassing.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean In its fullness over me,
Underneath me, all around me, Is the current of Thy love;
Leading onward, leading homeward To my glorious rest above.
(Francis/Williams, 1890)

For reflection
1. Can we ever really see “to the end” of God’s Word? Explain.

2. But should we try? What is your plan for learning all the counsel of God in His Word?

3. How can believers encourage one another to grow deeper and broader in the Word of God?

He here asserts, that there is nothing under heaven so perfect and stable, or so complete, in all respects, as not to have an end; and that the Divine word alone possesses such amplitude as to surpass all bounds and limits. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 11996

Pray Psalm 119.89-94.
Thank the Lord for His perfect and exceedingly broad Word. Delight in His Word. Praise Him for it. Take something of it away from your time of prayer to guard and guide you through the day ahead.

Psalm 119.89-94.
Be Still, My Soul)
Forever, Lord, Your Word abides in heaven; Your faithfulness to every age is sure.
You made the earth; to us it has been given, and it abides, because Your Word is pure.
All of creation serves Your holy pleasure, thus we, Your servants, by Your grace endure.

Unless Your Law had been my great delight, I would have perished when affliction came.
I will Your precepts ever keep in sight, for by them I have life - I praise Your Name!
Lord, I am Yours, deliver me from night! I seek Your precepts for Your praise and fame.

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by
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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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