Delighting in God’s Law
Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments.
They are relating properly to God who, having come through faith in Jesus Christ to know the Father, now live daily in love for and fear of Him. What characterizes such people? That is, how can we know those who love and fear the Lord; more to the point, how can we be sure that we love and fear the Lord?
The psalmist tells us plainly: they fear the Lord who delight in His commandments. The reference here is clearly to the Law of God — the Ten Commandments and the statutes, precepts, and rules which guide us in the blameless life of love for God and our neighbors (Lk. 1:6; Matt. 22:34-30). Paul insists that the Law of God is holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7:12), and it is appropriate for those who delight in the God Who gave such laws, to delight in His Law as well.
But what does it mean to delight in the Law of God? Well, in the first place, we cannot delight in what we do not know. Susie and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner last night of rice, black-eyed peas, and chicken livers, swathed in bacon. Prior to marrying Susie I would never have thought that such food could delight my palate so richly.
I remember, as a child, seeing my mother and grandmother enjoy a lunch of liver, onions, and bacon from time to time. And I recall vowing that I could never eat such horrid smelling food. It took marrying Susie for me to learn otherwise, and to take delight in this and many other foods — except, of course, eggplant — which I would otherwise never have known.
If we would delight in the Law, therefore, we must first come to know it. For many believers, this will be a new experience — like sitting down to chicken livers for the first time. In the contemporary Church we have become persuaded that the Law of God is not for us. We’re “under grace” rather than “under the Law.” We fear that keeping the Law might turn us into legalists or detract from the gracious salvation we know through Jesus Christ.
But once begin to read, study, and meditate on the Law of God, and you will discover such clear guidance in loving God and neighbors, such profound wisdom and beauty, and such a wealth of common sense instruction on maintaining a just and orderly society, that you will not be able to help yourself. As you develop a taste for God’s Law your delight in it will grow. The righteous person delights to meditate in God’s Law day and night (Ps. 1), and he finds no contradiction whatsoever in the salvation which we receive by grace through faith and the salvation which we unpack through the gracious Law of God.
But it doesn’t stop here. As we begin to delight in studying the Law of God, we will delight even more in obeying it. We will learn to say with the psalmist, “Oh how I love Your Law” (Ps. 119:97), and the Law will become such a source of joy to us that we will hasten to add, “I delight to do your will, O God” (Ps. 40:8). In doing the Law of God we walk in the paths of love for God and neighbor that mark out the course of divine grace flowing through us to others.
Rivers of living water will issue from our words and deeds as the Spirit of God fills, teaches, and empowers us to obey the Law of God (Ezek. 36:26, 27). We will discover depths of saving grace and power that we have never known before as we work out our salvation in fear and trembling by submitting to the work of God’s Spirit in teaching us His Law (Phil. 2:12, 13).
The Law of God is not a burden to be grudgingly learned and obeyed. It is, rather, the very source of full and abundant life to all who delight in it (Lev. 8:1-5). They who fear the Lord nurture and manifest that fear in their delight in His Law. Loving God and fearing Him thus go hand in hand, through the joyful, consistent, increasing study and practice of the holy and righteous and good Law of God.
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