Psalm 119: A law of love

Small Open Bible

Do good to your servant, and I will live;
I will obey your word.

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.

I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.

My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.

You rebuke the arrogant, who are cursed
and who stray from your commands.

Remove from me scorn and contempt,
for I keep your statutes.

Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.

Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

(Psalm 119: 17-24, New International Version)

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
Bet our Congress never hears that sentence! And that may just be why statements like this are so incredibly foreign to our American “Don’t tread on me!” ears. We don’t like too many rules, which is ironic considering that there are probably more rules and regulations concerning landfills in the US than there are total in the Law of Moses, which concern all of life (the generally accepted tally of statutes in the Law of Moses is 613).

A superficial reading of the laws found in the Law of Moses (the law to which the psalmist refers) might make us wonder why he would expect wonderful things. There are regulations about boils and skin diseases, proper foods (aka kosher foods), criminal punishments, even laws about your liabilities concerning accidental deaths. Reading through them can be boring–hey, just being honest. Unless. Unless we have God open our eyes to the purposes behind the laws, and then suddenly wonderful things do indeed come into view. Jesus opened our eyes a good bit when he said:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40, NIV)

That is the key: Just like my glasses which bring a blurry world into view, these two lenses, love the Lord, love your neighbor, are the two pillars of the Law of Moses, and indeed our new life in Christ. Why is stealing wrong? It is not love for your neighbor, or trust in God’s providence. Why did God give regulations about skin diseases? He loved His people Israel, and sought to help them avoid spreading contagious disease–just like a loving parent tells their kids to wash up before dinner, and a wife tells her husband to have that funky mole looked at–it’s about love. I’d challenge you to just take a gander at the Old Law some time and spend some time in meditation and prayer, as the psalmist did, striving to see the Greatest Commands in each statute. You may just find yourself as consumed as the psalmist.

“Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.”
I was reading from a book of sayings by one of my instructors at SIBI, Abe Lincoln. Most are the kind of funny quips and jabs he was known for, some are more serious. As I read verse 24 of Psalm 119, this one came back to my memory. These are good questions I think we should ask ourselves not only when seeking counsel, but any time we read or hear the Word of God:

When counseling someone, I ask three questions:
1. Are you willing to do what is right?
2. Are you willing for God to tell you what is right?
3. Are you willing to do it today?

–Abe Lincoln (1928-1997)

Prayer: Our loving Father, open our eyes to Your unfailing love. Help us to see it in Your will for our lives. May the way we treat our neighbors today be according to Your love. And reshape us, from the core of our being, into the image of Your Son. Through Christ our Savior, Amen.

This entry was posted in Christianity, Church of Christ, Psalms and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Psalm 119: A law of love

  1. James says:

    For those of us with thinning/receding hair, here is a ‘wonderful thing’ found in the Law:

    “”When a man has lost his hair and is bald, he is clean.”
    Leviticus 13:40, NIV

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