03 February 2014

in keeping them there is great reward

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving 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 rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
-Psalm 19:7-11

Woman Reading On a Settee, William W Churchill
When I was younger I didn't understand verses like this, which portray commandments and rules as so desirable. Rejoicing the heart and sweeter than the honeycomb? Whatever. Sounds boring and burdensome to me. Everybody knows that rules are no fun. 

I suppose this came from a typical human misunderstanding of liberty, wherein we see liberty as doing whatever we please, with no given purpose for our freedom except that which we ourselves decide. But that isn't liberty. It's chaos. "In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." The open-ended liberty described above leads to slavery because we foolish humans simply were not made for self-determination.

Fortunately, we have a loving Creator who knows precisely what is best for us. And that is why the "law" (that is, the right way of living) is actually delightful to know: it shows us the best way to live. The way that leads to joy and peace.

True liberty has a purpose. It's for something. We achieve liberty when God sets us free from sin, but for righteousness.

Divorced from grace, of course, this delight in God's law becomes shallow legalism. But wed to grace-- when we look at the law from the standpoint of our confidence in Christ, knowing that we are already God's children and that he is in fact standing beside us, ready to help in our hour of need-- "the precepts of the Lord" become marvelous gifts, vibrant truths that in His hand give life.

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