Why did David love the Law?
Full question: In Psalm 119:97 David writes, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” He says things like this in many of his psalms. I don’t get it! How can someone love the law? Besides, doesn’t the Bible teach that the law just brings us grief?
I know what you are thinking of when you say the Bible teaches the law just brings grief. The Apostle Paul discussed this in his treatise to the Romans. He writes, “the law brings wrath…” (Rom. 4:15) and a few chapters later he states, “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.” (Rom. 7:10).
The other day I was driving to an appointment at normal city speed when I suddenly realized I was half-way into a school zone. My foot quickly pressed on the brake, reducing my speed to the school zone limit. As I did this my eyes darted about, scanning the area for signs of a police car. Where I had not feared the presence of the police a few moments prior, now the thought brought brief panic.
Whether or not you might love the Law depends very much upon which side of it you stand. As Paul said, “Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.” (Rom. 7:9). He’s saying “I hadn’t a care in the world until I found God had rules and expectations for me… until I learned of His holy standards and of the moral code exemplified in Christ.” Now Paul realized his shortcomings. Now the Law meant grief!
Paul reminds Timothy, “…the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers…” (1 Tim. 1:9). But with Jesus the requirements grew stricter. Jesus did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. (Matt. 5:17). In Christ we see fully human man living righteously, living holy in a sin-filled world.
David exulted in the Law because the Law set a standard. In his age this standard required dutiful attention to the sacrificial system, a forward look to the coming Messiah, and an uprightness of living. David rejoiced because the Law showed the way…
“The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.” (Psalm 19:7, 8)
Now things are a little different. Now God “commands all people everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30). The standard of the Law is holiness and Christ has become our final sacrifice.
If you have confessed that you fall short and placed your confidence in the righteousness of Christ, then you too will love the statutes of God. But if you remain stubborn and guilty before Him then the law is a fearful thing indeed.
On which side of the cross are you?
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