4.21.2010

Love for Law


If you know your Bible, and even if you don't, you know that David was not only slayer of Goliath, leader of mighty men, and king of Israel; he was also a darn good poet. Here's an excerpt from one of his psalms:

"The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb." - Psalm 19:7-10

The remarkable thing about this paragraph is that this gushing sentiment is about books of the Bible like Leviticus, which discusses such topics as ceremonial washing and festival instruction; after all, David could not of course be including the parts of the Bible we might find more familiar and more engaging in the present day, like the New Testament or Psalms or Proverbs. How is it that the sections of the Bible that we in modern times would consider boring and repetitive are lauded so greatly by David?

My take is that David rejoiced in having instructions from God; he reveled in the direct communication from the God he so zealously pursued, but he also reveled in having detailed and tangible instruction on how he and his people were to be. It's easy to think we invented loose living, but an "anything goes" mentality predates us by a lot; one could make a strong case that there was even greater immorality back then than there is now.

And, like today, being one's own god and calling one's own shots seems to hold the promise for freedom and pleasure, but the promise is really false and fleeting. If you believe you were made by God, and that He is good and wise and personal, than His instructions are a far better way to live than whatever the world tells us or whatever we might tell ourselves.

I think this is why David so cherished the law of God. We might read the paragraph I excerpted above and extrapolate to our own lives our fascination with the gripping drama of certain famous Bible stories, the eloquence of Psalms and Proverbs, the force of the prophets, or the accounts of Jesus' life. But what I think it means to apply that paragraph to our lives is not as much a love for those aspects of the Bible but rather the more instructional ones; that as David was glad in his heart because, in an "anything goes" world, he had directions from his Maker as to how to live right, so do we, in our "anything goes" world, have directions from our Maker as to how to live right.

In an urban and urbane setting, our decision to not only accept but glory in God's instruction can seem as odd as David's gushing words about books like Leviticus. But it only goes to show how much we have bought into the lie that the best way to live life is on our own terms, by our own wisdom, and according to no one's moral code but the one we have made for ourselves and for our own pleasure. From that perspective, it seems quaint at best and misguided at worst to be stuck within the construct of a set of old instructions. But we who know our Maker, and know Him to be good and wise and personal, know differently; we know that it is within that construct that true freedom and life and pleasure exists, and instead so we glory in those instructions and in the Giver of them.

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