To Love the Law of God: A Meditation on Psalm 119:97-104

“O how I love thy law!  It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).

In driving, cooking, and even reading, at some point, the mechanic becomes the artist.  Gone are the step-by-step procedures.  Gone are the frustrations over buttons and levers, precise calculations, and the sounding out of words.  Instead, all concentration now is given to the drive, the flavor, and the story.  At that point, the fundamentals have been absorbed into the bigger process.  They are still there, but they are no longer the conscious focal point.  This process mirrors a person’s entrance into the world of wisdom.

For many, their experience of the law of God remains on the pedantic level.  “Tell me the rule,” says their attitude, “and I will obey it.”  This is not wisdom.  The psalmist loved the law of God because it gave him wisdom, along with understanding and discernment (vv. 97-100).  Not content with a paint-by-numbers approach, he saw in the law of God wonders that fascinated him, even glory that reflected back to him the characteristics and attributes of God (cf. v. 18).  Through this divine law, he became wiser than his enemies, more successful than his teachers, and more discerning than his elders (vv. 98, 99, 100).  No wonder he loved this law, and mulled it over daily (v. 97)!

Which man do you most resemble: the pedantic rule-keeper or the wise psalmist?  If left without a rule, could you discern from first principles your right and wise course of action, or are you left without direction in a city of details?  Sadly, we live in a day when many Christians have grown dull of hearing.  Inoculated by a simple “gospel message,” they have remained in church learning little and needing still their cookbook.  Even though by now they should be chefs, they have need to be taught again the basics, for it is only by practice that our spiritual taste is trained to discern good and evil: “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” (v. 100; cf. Hebrews 5:11-14).

To encourage YOU to grow beyond the rules into a wisdom that absorbs both the rules and your attention, consider these three aspects of the psalmist’s delight:

First, the psalmist loved the law of God. Hearing, reading, knowing, memorizing–all are fine.  But do you love God’s law?  If so, you will frequently return to it, as bees to their honey–and the law is sweeter (v. 103).  If you love the law of God, you will talk about it, as you would your favorite dessert with your dinner host (vv. 97, 103).  Moreover, if you love the law of God, you will hate everything opposed to it (v. 104).  Though many will charge you with exaggeration, it will due to their lack of understanding, for they never sat in this school.  Do you love it?

Second, the psalmist loved the law of God. Though this phrase may (and probably does) refer to the entire Old Testament (e.g. John 10:34-35), it is in the capacity of law that the Bible drew forth the psalmist’s love.  The Bible is an immensely practical book, and should be viewed solely in that capacity.  Literally, “law” means that the Bible is giving us direction in life, pointing us away from sin and back to God through the blood sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  Do you love this law? Are you sick of aimless existence and empty fulfillment, yearning for direction back to the Author of your being?  Praise God, you have that saving direction in the Bible!

Third, the psalmist love the law of God. Overlooked, taken for granted, but marvelous in its grace, God actually spoke and speaks to us in His holy word, the Bible.  Imagine.  To us.  Worse than any Seuss’s “Who” down on “Whoville” in a field of clover that Horton must find, we are on less than a speck in the Greater Cosmos of God’s creation, and though His word itself retorts, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4), God actually loves us, communicates with us, and teaches us in Christ.  It is this thought–being taught by God–that caused the psalmist to break out again in wonder, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste!” (vv. 102-103).  All who experience this sovereign, inner instruction, through the word and by the Spirit, come to Christ, and are kept by Him unto Eternal Life (John 6:44-45; cf. Isaiah 54:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 John 2:27).

Do you love the law of God?

If not, you are not saved.  Having no taste for God, He will have no affection for you.  Only those who embrace “the love of the truth” are on the road to salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:10).  Please note: This warning does not mean that you are without hope.  By its very nature, love is not dependent on social status, education, age, or gender (cf. vv. 99, 100).  Anyone may love.  But since “love is from God,” it is not something you yourself can conjure up (1 John 4:7).  You need to seek it from Him, and believe in Him that He will give it to you, as you soak in the law of the Lord.  Again, I ask, Do you love the law of God?

Interestingly, there are no petitions in this stanza.  It is pure praise, coming from pure delight.  Such is the attitude of all those who have moved from pedantic rule-keeping into the wisdom and wonder of the law of God.  Through obedience, it is sheer delight, and they desire no other path (vv. 101-102).

Is this your delight?  Is this your path?  Do you love the law of God?

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