Do me a favor and please read Psalm 119:41-48
“Law” and “love” are our themes in these eight verses. Which leads me to a simple opening question: Do you love the Law (commands) of God? Clearly, our psalmist does. And while this is THEIR writings and reflections it should still mean something to us. WE TOO should love the Law of God. We TOO should understand why we should love it and be led by it.
I know I’ve written about this before but the “Law” (or Commands) of God, for Christians, doesn’t always feel like it equals love. Hebrews and Jews, they understand it. They get it. They fully grasp that the Law, given down by God, isn’t a set of 613 rules to be feared. Instead, they are 613 guidelines of/for love. The Torah (the Law) tells the people of God how they are to walk with him and each other. How they are to serve him and each other. How they are to act towards him and each other. Remember, the Law wasn’t given on the 7th day after God created – the Law came after the people broke covenant (Genesis 3), were kicked out of Eden, lived for quite a while as rebellious non-loving people of God (who didn’t always recognize him) but then eventually were brought back to God as he brought them out of Egypt. So you and I must see, and understand, that the Law is part of God’s love. The Law is God’s love handed down to his people. Instead of allowing them to run amok, harming others, harming themselves, and destroying any relationship with Him, instead of allowing THAT to take place God gave instructions on not only how to love each other but instructions on how HE LOVES them. Remember, the Law isn’t some random set of instructions – these are ways to live, actions to take, and the very characteristics of God himself.
Our psalmist completely understands that God’s love, through his Law, is what he needs. He sees it as his motivation for the day, for his workings in the day, how God saves through his Law, and he is so moved by the loving Law of God that he wants to obey it day in and day out. And so he makes a promise to God to always “hope” in it (vs 43) to always “obey” it (vs 44), to “walk” in its freedom (45), to speak of it always before all people no matter what they say or do (vs 46), and to meditate (or reflect) on them daily (vs 48).
Maybe I’m a cynic, or maybe I’m just too Reformed in my belief (thus declaring that we are so broken and full of sin that we cannot fulfill any part of the Law), but while I appreciate their words and promise I see that it’s just not going to happen. Will they always obey the Law? Nope – because with each breath we take we break it. Will they speak of it before all people? Well…not always. We’ll do it when convenient or there is a willing ear but more often than not we’ll find our lips sewn shut when they should be speaking. We simply cannot hold to the Law of God each day. The invasion of sin in our lives doesn’t allow it.
But THAT is exactly why God’s law is love. Again, these are the very characteristics of God that he has given to us to live by and abide in. He wants us to love and serve like him so he gave us rules and regulations that not only help us love and serve like him but also draw us closer TO him. Every time we love as he loves, serve as he serves, and sacrifice as he sacrifices, we take in a breath of who He is. And in the end? All of the Law points to Jesus. As a believer in Jesus Christ, we affirm, believe, and hold to the fact that Jesus is not only God’s love in the flesh (1 John 4:7-12) but he is the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17-20). Jesus, in how loved, served, showed compassion and mercy, he not only showed us what the Law looked like to live but also received it for us and bestowed it upon us.
If you’re anything like me we need to stop looking at the Law of God as a set of rules and regulations and more of a “love-list” from God. We need to see the Law more tethered in Christ than anything else. It’s too easy, in our brokenness, to see the Law as a bunch of “no-no’s” and “do nots” than a path of holiness, righteousness, love, and mercy. So let me ask again, do you love the Law? You should…because to love the Law means you love the One who gave it, fulfilled it, and lived into it in His living and dying. And really, David’s request at the beginning of this text is for God’s “unfailing love” to come to him – is that not Jesus? I’m pretty sure it is.
3 QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CHEW-ON:
- What in this psalm speaks to you? Where are you drawn? Why?
- What does it mean to “hope” in God’s laws (vs 43b)? What does that look like for you and me?
- What does Romans 13:8 say? Does this help us at all? This can also be a difficult challenge for us too – how so?