Loving the Law
The Psalmist often declares his
love for God's law. One might wonder how one could love any kind of law to
the point of writing poetry and music about it. With the exception of
School House Rock, I have never heart any songs on the radio or television
extolling the beauty, desirability, and delightfulness for law. Most do
not include poring through volumes of dust law books as part of their top
ten favorite things to do. Many hire lawyers and other professionals to do
this for them.
What about God's law? Some have similar feelings toward God's law simply
because of the word, "law." Those feelings are not as strong because it
was God's law. Most do not express this outlook on God's law by word, but
often it shows in action in spite of the clear New Testament assessment
that the law is good (Rom 7:12, 16; 1 Tim 1:8).
When we hear the word, "law," our prior experience and culture colors how
we understand that word. We think of courts, lawyers, policemen, and
public statutes that permit or prohibit. We think of dos and don'ts. While
the law of God does have this aspect, it fails to capture the true essence
of God's law. The Hebrew word for law is "Torah." It usually does not mean
"law" in the same way our English word means law. It often has the more
general meaning, "instruction." In fact, the verb form of torah means, "to
instruct." Torah is not just a list of dos and don'ts, it is instruction
about God and life. This becomes even more apparent when you consider what
the Torah consists of. Genesis through Deuteronomy is what is classified
as Torah, or books of law. With that designation, you might expect
something that looks a little like our constitution or local statutes.
However, it reads more like a history book that lends itself to life
lessons and instructions. God instructs through history, through teaching
about himself and ourselves, and through statutes. It is truly God's
instruction. Through Torah, God's people could grow in wisdom (Ps 119:98).
His law could guide his people successfully through the challenges of life
(Ps 119:105, 165). His commandment helped his people gain greater insight
(Ps 19:8). The Torah of God restores the soul (Ps 19:7; 119:149). God's
instruction was given to learn, meditate on, and form the heart and
character of his people. In fact, the New Testament says that the law has
become our "tutor" or "schoolmaster" to lead us to Christ (Gal 3:24).
The ultimate law of God is Jesus who is literally the personification of
the word of God. The Bible says that the Word became flesh and lived among
us (Jn 1:14). He "explained" or "exegeted" God (Jn 1:18). Jesus expounded
on God's instruction throughout his ministry as he did in the Sermon on
the Mount. He also demonstrated God's Torah in the way his lived his life.
Therefore, as Christians, our meditation on God's instruction centers on
Jesus Christ, the personification of Torah. No instruction is clearer than
the person of Jesus Christ himself. He is our wisdom, our guide, our Lord,
our life. He is our meditation and our delight. He is sweeter than the
honey of the honeycomb. He restores our soul when we are weary. He is the
bread of life. He is the living water.