Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why Do I Delight In The Law?

Just last Sunday, 9 August 2015, Singapore celebrated 50 years of peace, progress and prosperity as a sovereign and independent nation. I have no doubt that we enjoy these blessings because of our founding fathers’ wisdom in ensuring that Singapore is a nation built on law and order. Each time Parliament meets, it is to pass new laws or amend others to ensure our society does not break down. Some may lament that the law restricts freedom but good laws that order our society and protect us are not burdensome and restrictive. For instance, good traffic laws do not restrict our freedom. Instead, they bring safety and order to potentially dangerous situations and preserve life. In this Jubilee Year, we see the blessings of building our nation on law and order. In fact, the law is a delight for those who see how it benefits in bestowing peace, freedom and sound judgment on its citizens. These are also the same blessings of God's law that the Psalmist declares in Psalm 119 - "your law is my delight..." (v174), "Great peace have they who love your law and nothing can make them stumble" (v165), "I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts" (v45), "teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands" (v66).

Thus, the Psalmist declares the authority of God's laws over his life in this Psalm. Consider the imperatives and the number of times they point to the power and authority of Scripture – law (45), statutes (23), precepts (21), decrees (22), commands (14), word (23), promise (11). Yet the law does not produce a cringing fear. Instead, he delights in God’s law. This is so unlike many churches today where talk of obedience to God’s law and authority seems to produce a visceral aversion. These same churches label, sometimes disparagingly, such responses to God’s commandments as ‘self-effort’, ‘salvation by works’, etc. Not so the Psalmist here. Why? It is because he recognises the beneficial role God’s Word plays in guiding his life – “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (v32), “I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path” (v104),  “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord" (v1), etc. How positive the Psalmist sounds.

The value of God’s Word is seen in the many blessings it gives us:

  • It shows us a better way of living in not yielding to temptation -"how can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word" (v9).
  • It frees us from duplicity - "I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame" (v46).
  • It outweighs the value of all material things - "the law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (v72).
  • However simple-minded or dull-witted one may seem to be, God's Word is not beyond understanding - "I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts" (v100), "the unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple" (v130).
  • It enhances our quality of life - "how sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth" (v103).
  • It promises wrath for those who hurt God’s people - "you reject all who stray from your decrees, for their deceitfulness is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes" (v118-119).

We can see the blessings in obeying God’s Word. Should we not then be studying God’s Word in a daily, dynamic walk with Jesus so that we may reap the full blessings of growing to be like Christ, pleasing our Heavenly father in this life? May our life echo the Psalmist's prayer, "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law" (v18).

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