Learning to Love God’s Law

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

For a long time, I had trouble wrapping my head around that sentiment.

It’s not that I didn’t appreciate God’s law. I did appreciate it. I had the blessing of being raised in the Church by two parents who helped me to see God’s law as valuable and precious.

But love it?

That always felt like an odd feeling to have toward a law. By definition, a law is designed to prevent you from doing one thing, or to compel you to do something else. It’s a boundary, a fence, a requirement—something designed to limit what you’re allowed to do.

I didn’t understand how a person could love that. It’s not like anyone is going around writing 176 verse psalms of praise about the U.S. tax code, right? (I’m not even sure what that would sound like. “I will delight myself in Title 26, Subtitle A, Chapter 2, Section 1402(a)(1), which I love.”

Of course, the difference here is that God’s law is leagues apart from a country’s tax code. We’re not talking about a couple centuries’ worth of half-baked ideas and addendums haphazardly bolted onto a lopsided framework eroded by the misguided imaginings and greedy schemes of mere human beings.

We’re talking about the law of the God who set the universe in motion.

I think I’m finally getting to a point in my life where I can understand it—how it’s possible to love a set of restrictions and requirements—and more than that, why loving it is important.

It comes down to how we view fences.

If we only ever see God’s law as the fence that stands between us and the things we’d really rather be doing, then yes, it’s never going to be possible for us to love that law. It’s never going to be possible to offer God anything more than grudging obedience.

On the other hand, if we see God’s law as the fence that protects us from wandering into the darkest corners and most painful errors of this physical life, then, well…

That’s the kind of law someone could write a song about.

That’s the kind of law someone could learn to love.

That’s what the author of Psalm 119 saw. Look at the way he talks about God’s law:

  • “My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times” (verse 20).
  • “I long for Your precepts” (verse 40).
  • “Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage” (verse 54).
  • “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (verse 103).
  • “Your testimonies … are the rejoicing of my heart” (verse 111).
  • “I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!” (verse 127).
  • “Your testimonies are wonderful” (verse 129).
  • “Consider how I love Your precepts” (verse 159).
  • “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” (verse 162).
  • “My soul keeps Your testimonies, and I love them exceedingly” (verse 167).
  • “Your law is my delight” (verse 174—compare verses 16, 24, 47, 70, 77, and 143).

The psalmist isn’t silent about why he feels this way, either. God’s law is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (verse 105). It offers “more understanding than all my teachers” (verse 99) and “more than the aged” (verse 100, ESV). It is a path (verse 35), a course to run (verse 32) that keeps us from wandering down every false (verse 104) and evil way (verse 101).

It’s what Moses pleaded for the Israelites to understand as they stood at the border of Canaan—every law God gives us, every precept, every testimony, every commandment, every statute—they place boundaries between us and self-destructive wickedness, all while ushering us toward a rewarding, fulfilling life.

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).

Go this way and live. Go that way and die.

The Creator of the universe, who has a vested interest in your journey through this physical life—who calls you His child and offers you a place of honor in His family—has laid out in great detail the physical and spiritual principles necessary for navigating this life and laying hold of eternity in the next.

That’s what God’s law does for us. That’s what makes it beautiful. That’s what makes it something to reach out and grasp tightly, to treasure, to meditate on in the night watches, to cling to like a lifeline.

That’s what makes it something to love.

Until next time,

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