Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 119:96

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I have seen an end of all perfection - Literally, "Of all consummations I have seen the end:" as if one should say, Every thing of human origin has its limits and end, howsoever extensive, noble, and excellent. All arts and sciences, languages, inventions, have their respective principles, have their limits and ends; as they came from man and relate to man, they shall end with man: but thy law, thy revelation, which is a picture of thy own mind, an external manifestation of thy own perfections, conceived in thy infinite ideas, in reference to eternal objects, is exceeding broad; transcends the limits of creation; and extends illimitably into eternity! This has been explained as if it meant: All the real or pretended perfection that men can arrive at in this life is nothing when compared with what the law of God requires. This saying is false in itself, and is no meaning of the text. Whatever God requires of man he can, by his grace, work in man.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I have seen an end of all perfection - The word which is here rendered “perfection” - תכלה tiklâh - occurs only in this place; but a similar word from the same root - תכלית taklı̂yth - occurs in the following places: in Nehemiah 3:21, and Job 26:10, rendered “end;” in Job 11:7; Job 28:3, rendered “perfection;” and in Psalm 139:22, rendered “perfect.” It means properly “completion, perfection;” or, as others suppose, “hope, confidence.” It is rendered, in the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate, “consummation.” Luther renders it, “of all things.” It is proper here to apply it to character; to perfect virtue, or to claims to perfect virtue - either in one‘s-self or in others. The word rendered “end” here refers not to the fact of its existence, or to its duration, but to a limit or boundary as to its extent. To all claims to perfection made by man, he had seen an end or limit. He had examined all which claimed to be perfect; he had found it defective; he had so surveyed and examined the matter, as to be able to say that there could be no claim to perfection which would prove good. All claim to perfection on the part of man must be abandoned forever.

But thy commandment is exceeding broad - The word but is not in the original, and enfeebles the sense. The idea is, that the law of God, as he now saw it, was of such a nature - was so “broad” - as to demonstrate that there could be no just claim to perfection among people. All claims to perfection had arisen from the fact that the law was not properly understood, that its true nature was not seen. People thought that they were perfect, but it was because they had no just view of the extent and the spirituality of the law of God. They set up an imperfect standard; and when they became conformed to that standard, as they might do, they imagined themselves to be perfect; but when their conduct was compared with a higher and more just standard - the law of God - it could not but be seen that they were imperfect people. That law had claims which they had not met, and never would meet, in this life. It is very easy to flatter ourselves that we are perfect, if we make our own standard of character; it is not possible for man to set up a claim to perfection, if he measures himself by the standard of God‘s word; and all the claims of people to perfection are made simply because they do not properly understand what the law of God requires. Compare the notes at Job 9:20.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The settling of God's word in heaven, is opposed to the changes and revolutions of the earth. And the engagements of God's covenant are established more firmly than the earth itself. All the creatures answer the ends of their creation: shall man, who alone is endued with reason, be the only unprofitable burden of the earth? We may make the Bible a pleasant companion at any time. But the word, without the grace of God, would not quicken us. See the best help for bad memories, namely, good affections; and though the exact words be lost, if the meaning remain, that is well. I am thine, not my own, not the world's; save me from sin, save me from ruin. The Lord will keep the man in peace, whose mind is stayed on him. It is poor perfection which one sees and end of. Such are all things in this world, which pass for perfections. The glory of man is but as the flower of the grass. The psalmist had seen the fulness of the word of God, and its sufficiency. The word of the Lord reaches to all cases, to all times. It will take us from all confidence in man, or in our own wisdom, strength, and righteousness. Thus shall we seek comfort and happiness from Christ alone.
Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 238

The system of Jewish economy was the gospel in figure, a presentation of Christianity which was to be developed as fast as the minds of the people could comprehend spiritual light. Satan ever seeks to make obscure the truths that are plain, and Christ ever seeks to open the mind to comprehend every essential truth concerning the salvation of fallen man. To this day there are still aspects of truth which are dimly seen, connections that are not understood, and far-reaching depths in the law of God that are uncomprehended. There is immeasurable breadth, dignity, and glory in the law of God; and yet the religious world has set aside this law, as did the Jews, to exalt the traditions and commandments of men. Before the days of Christ, men asked in vain, “What is truth?” Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. Even Judea was shrouded in gloom, although the voice of God spoke to them in His oracles. The truth of God had been silenced by the superstition and traditions of its professed interpreters, and contention, jealousy, and prejudice divided the professed children of God. Then was a Teacher sent from God, even Him who was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus presented to view the pure, rich truth of heaven to shine amid the moral darkness and gloom of earth. God had said, “Let there be spiritual light,” and the light of the glory of God was revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. FE 238.1

Christ was manifested as the Saviour of men. The people were not to trust in their own works, in their own righteousness, or in themselves in any way, but in the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. In Him the Advocate with the Father was revealed. Through Him the invitation was given, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” This invitation comes sounding down along the lines to us today. Let not pride, or self-esteem, or self-righteousness keep any one from confessing his sins, that he may claim the promise: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Keep nothing back from God, and neglect not the confession of your faults to the brethren when they have a connection with them. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” Many a sin is left unconfessed, to be confronted in the day of final accounts; better far to see your sins now, to confess them, and put them away, while the atoning Sacrifice pleads in your behalf. Do not dislike to learn the will of God on this subject. The health of your soul, the unity of your brethren, may depend upon the course you pursue in these things. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, “casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” FE 239.1

It is a lamentable fact that the erring heart is unwilling to be criticised, or to subject itself to humiliation by the confession of sin. Some see their faults, but thinking confession will detract from their dignity, they excuse their wrong, and shield themselves from the discipline that confession would give to the soul. The thought of their manifest error will remain to embitter their enjoyments and embarrass their movements; for in passing out of the path of confession, they fail to be faithful examples to the people. They see the errors of others; but how can they have courage to give the advice, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed,” when they have failed to follow this instruction in their own lives? How much will ministers or people learn of a truth which they thrust aside, and forget if possible, because it is not agreeable; because it does not flatter their pride, but reproves and pains? Ministers and people, if saved at all, must be saved day by day, hour by hour. They must hunger and thirst for the righteousness of Christ, the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Church members,—those placed in positions of trust,—must be baptized with the Spirit of God, or they will not be qualified for the positions they accept. FE 239.2

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 140.2

The law of Jehovah is exceedingly broad. Jesus ... plainly declared to His disciples that this holy law of God may be violated in even the thoughts and feelings and desires, as well as in the word and deed. The heart that loves God supremely will not in any way be inclined to narrow down His precepts to the very smallest possible claims, but the obedient, loyal soul will cheerfully render full spiritual obedience when the law is seen in its spiritual power. Then will the commandments come home to the soul in their real force. Sin will appear exceedingly sinful.... There is no longer self-righteousness, self-esteem, self-honor. Self-security is gone. Deep conviction of sin and self-loathing is the result, and the soul in its desperate sense of peril lays hold on the blood of the Lamb of God as his only remedy.... OHC 140.2

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 157.4

The commandments of God are exceeding broad, and the Lord is not pleased to have His children disorderly, to have their lives marred by defects and their religious experience crippled, their growth in grace dwarfed, because they persist in cherishing hereditary and cultivated deficiencies in wrong habits that will be imitated by others and thus be perpetuated. If the grace of Christ cannot remedy these defects, what then constitutes transformation of character?38 TMK 157.4

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