When a Command isn’t just Law…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
73 You created me, and you keep me safe; give me understanding, so that I may learn your laws. 74 Those who honour you will be glad when they see me, because I trust in your promise. 75 I know that your judgements are righteous, LORD, and that you punished me because you are faithful. 76 Let your constant love comfort me, as you have promised me, your servant. GNT Psalm 119:73-76
God “commanded” the world into existence (Ps 33:9; Isa 45:12). All creatures and elements therefore obey his command (cf. I Kgs 17:4; Job 37:12; Ps 78:23). God also directs the course of history by decreeing crucial events; indeed no determinative event happens without God’s ordaining it (Lam 3:37). Indeed he decrees that his people be victorious (Ps 44:4 [H 5]).
What God commands to be done, he provides the means to accomplish, e.g. he instructed Moses concerning the building of the cultic furniture and buildings; then he inspired Bezalel and Oholiab with the Spirit of wisdom to be able to accomplish the work (Ex 31:2–6; 35:30–36:1). Regarding the making of these objects the text first details the instructions and then describes Israel’s careful fulfillment of God’s commandment (Ex 25–30; 36–39; Lev 8; cf. Ex 39:5, 7, 32, 42f.).
Over the last year and a half, one of my Bible Studies has been slowly working through Psalm 119. Over and over it talks about the joy that is found in the law of God, in His commands, in His directives, in His ordinances!
The challenge is that we Lutherans tend see this only as Law – the commands that we cannot hope to keep, and therefore find ourselves. condemned. My old denomination as well had this problem, as it divided the covenants of God into Law and Promises.
We hear Law, we head commandment, we hear precept and our mind automatically goes into “theology mode”. This is God’s command, we have to fear when we hear it because we cannot hope to meet its demands, it will only point out our sin.
But that is not how the Psalmist continually refers to God’s law in Psalm 119, and in most of the Psalms. It is a delight, a joy, something that grabs our attention and holds it, breathes life into us! It inspires and empowers us.
It is not just what we refer to as the terms of the covenant, or the law which we properly distinguish from gospel. It is the entire Covenant, the law and gospel complete and in perfect tension. The entirety of theology, the word of God complete. Our need for salvation, His saving us at the cross of Christ.
As the apostle Paul put it so beautifully,
“3 Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. 4 Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love 5 God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children—this was his pleasure and purpose.” Ephesians 1:3-5 (TEV)
This is what God tells us He established by His very commands from the beginning. It is His reason, His word, it is Christ’s pleasure and purpose, as well as the Father’s and the Holy Spirits.
The quote in blue, for the word law in the psalm quote, coems from a Hebrew Lexicon. It states it well, what He commanded, He establishes the means to accomplish, indeed the entire Trinity is invested in making it come to pass.
For us, so that we could be His people, His children, so that we would know Him as our God, our benevolent, loving, caring, comforting Father. So He has commanded this to be, and so it is!
Let that bring you great peace, great joy! What God has established, ordained, commanded, made His law is now. You are His. AMEN!
Hartley, John E. “1887 צָוָה.” Ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament 1999 : 757. Print.