When someone mentions God’s Law a number of things come to mind.  Often, people think of a strict God who declared the Ten Commandments as lines that must not be crossed; a wrathful God who smites lawbreakers with eternal damnation in Hell; or a vengeful God who strives to make life miserable for any who don’t follow a set of guidelines. While this imagery is quite common in the mindset of today, is it correct?

Reading through Psalm 119 paints a completely different picture of God’s Law.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!

(Psalm 119:1-8)

At first glance, psalmist’s view supports present day society’s. After all, he wrote that one must follow God’s Law in order to be blameless before God’s eyes; its just human conditioning with a religion wrapped around it.

Yes, it is true that the Law is meant to instruct us, that it is for obedience.  Why does this have to be a bad thing? Read again those first two verses: “Blessed are those whose way is blameless…” (v.1a) and “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies…” (v.2a). Those are not negative or harsh words, they are positive and lifting. Yet, don’t miss the focus of the blessings, “who seek him with their whole heart” (v.2b). All of scripture is to be revered for being His (i.e. God’s Word), and servants of the Lord seek Him specifically; not the book.  Therefore, the Law is a positive force that is sought after because it was written by him who created you in order to benefit you.

And that’s where the real rub comes, how can ancient rules and regulations benefit people from a modern (or post-modern) culture; how can they be called a blessing? The answer is far more simple and revolutionary than one might expect. Proverbs 2:10 states, “for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” The Law is to be ingested, it is to help guide our lives and be our teacher; God’s Law is meant to be a personal guiding force in our lives.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

(Psalm 119:9-16)

Think back to your childhood and your favorite teacher; remember how that person took a personal interest in your life and helped define who you are. That is God’s Law! Notice again verses 14 and 16, “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches … I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” Along with a focus on the Law, there is a theme of delight running alongside through the entirety of Psalm 119. Derek Kidner notes, “This is not merely a scholar’s pleasure… but a disciple’s whose joy is in obedience”(1). There is much joy to be found in learning who God is and knowing His Law; yet, not all hold to this truth.

Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.
Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.
Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.

(Psalm 119:17-24)

Take note of the contrast in verses 20 & 21, “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.” This language is specifically used by the psalmist to remind the reader of the curses found in the Law: “Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them” (Deuteronomy 27:26) and “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:15). The psalmist is clearly aware of what is at stake. He requests God to “Open my eyes” in verse 18; desiring any veil to be removed from his understanding of who God is. There are only two types of people in this world those who delight in God and those who don’t; a choice holding eternal consequences.

My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

(Psalm 119:25-32)

The way, the truth, and the life is found through the Law. When Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 16:6) He was proclaiming He is the Law, and In verse 30 the psalmist announces, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness.” Everything comes down to a choice.

So the question still remains, what is God’s Law? As mentioned above the answer is simple, it all comes down to what does it mean to you? For the God follower, the Law brings sought after joy to life.

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1. Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: An Introduction and Commentary, 455.

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