What prompted David to make his enthusiastic statement, “Oh, how I love your law”?
David made the incredible statement, “Oh, how I love Your law!” (Psalm 119:97, New King James Version). This seems foreign to our human nature, which relishes the “freedom” of self-determination. David’s early life was, in part, an example of one who had sampled “freedom” from God’s law and lived life to the full with fame, fortune and power. What prompted David to make his enthusiastic statement about God’s law?
It is easy to assign David to a class of spiritual “untouchables” who are “holier than thou.” One might presume him to be on some unreachable spiritual plane because he was called a “man after God’s own heart.” Legendary individuals such as Abraham, Moses, and the apostles were surely on an exalted level far above you and me, right? Or, could it be we invent such notions to excuse ourselves from the work accompanying righteousness? With closer inspection, we discover they were just like us, no different. Their examples are given as down-to-earth proof we can grow like they did, if we want to. “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example” (Philippians 3:17, King James Version throughout).
When you are meditating on God’s Law and conscientiously applying it to your life, you are then doing the very best you can at that time. On the other hand, if your mind is immersed in materialism without focus on applying God’s Law, not-so-good things will result. Scripture is full of such examples by those whose repentance would later become legendary. In Matthew 16:23, “But [Christ] turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” We see Paul in Acts 9:1, “yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.” The lesson from these great people of the Bible is we constantly reap what we sow and what we sow on our own is not pretty.
Peter found advancing himself actually accomplished the opposite, while godly humility and loving others garnered respect and admiration. Blindness put Paul in position for repentance, which resulted in a new zeal for killing off his old nature, instead of killing people.
Focus on God’s Law
David’s affirmation of God’s law can become personally meaningful if you read it in the context of the verses around it. He is saying that he had arrived at his conclusion through experience, that is, “Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me” (Psalms 119:92-93). Likewise, your life is filled with choices providing you with experience. What you “love” depends in large part on whether God has given you His Holy Spirit to sample a way that most humans have not experienced.
David lived and served in a unique era where he had God’s Spirit, yet led carnal Israel and its armies into battles of all sorts. It was a constant issue in David’s life and he had many enemies without and within. The old adage, “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword” was probably derived from Matthew 26:52, which reads, “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Yet, notice how God’s Law remained David’s central focus amidst the constant turmoil of his life. In Psalm 119:109-110, he says, “My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law. The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.”
Think of a time when someone verbally attacked you. Could you study or pray very well during that assault? At such times, our carnal minds can become self-consumed with rebuttal and vindication. Yet, with God’s Spirit helping us we can have a different response, just as David continued, “I will never forget Your precepts; for by them You have given me life. I am Yours, save me; for I have sought Your precepts. The wicked have waited for me to destroy me, but I will consider Your testimonies” (Psalm 119:93-95, New King James Version).
One might say, “Well, that sounds like a noble resolve.” But, when it is you or I in that situation, such intentions can be lost among the distractions. How did David keep his focus? Was it because he had super-Bible-hero status? Or, was there something else?
David’s final statement before exclaiming his enthusiasm for God’s Law shows he put life’s events into a bigger perspective. He stepped back from a formidable tree until he viewed it in context with an entire forest. “I have seen an end of all perfection” (Psalm 119:96). It is easy to skip over this phrase, which translates rather clumsily into English. What David ponders here is something his son would later describe in elaborate detail in the book of Ecclesiastes.
One excerpt states, “I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove... So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-6, 9, NKJV). “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
David then contrasts “all perfection” (the apex of human deeds and achievements) with this: “But Your commandment is exceedingly broad” (Psalms 119:96).
Again, you have to contemplate this statement to fully appreciate it. The Hebrew word translated “broad” means “roomy in every direction” (Strong’s). God’s Law encompasses every event, every matter, every issue experienced everywhere throughout eternity. In comparison, our biggest human issues become petty and will dissolve without recall.
After considering all the above, David now announces his new direction and its merits. “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts, I get understanding; therefore, I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalms 119:97-105, NKJV).
Setting a Godly Example
We all experience various tests, trials and general commotion in our lives at times. What can be done to resolve such situations? David’s “Oh how I love your law” passage speaks in part to that very issue. Its conclusion is that we should stay focused on God’s law of obediently loving others in all situations! As David found, that is not always easy to do. Jesus taught us the extent that we are to go to in loving others. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45, NKJV).
Paul told New Covenant Christians that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). Jesus defined the law as loving God and one’s fellow man beyond self. However, applying God’s law can be a powerful challenge to our human nature and without God’s help, we are powerless. We all know a few who set excellent examples of godly response in challenging situations.
The legends of the Bible aren’t presented as untouchables or “supermen” at all. Their legacy shows us carnal humans can repent and be changed with the influence of God’s Holy Spirit. They led human lives just like you and me. We all make mistakes and need to repent of them and grow, but we are to be examples of lives being transformed by God’s Holy Spirit, just as theirs were.
If you raise your eyes to God and His Kingdom, if you “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), then the “big” events of your human life will fall into perspective. Becoming godly and seeking to become of God can captivate your thoughts and become the focus of your ponderings, just like David. And just like David, Paul and others, individual trials are dealt with appropriately as children of God.
If you love God’s law and make it the lamp of your path like David did, you will be charting a good course to the Kingdom. And as the fruits of God’s Way enrich your life and the lives of those around you, your conclusion will inevitably become, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”
For more on God’s Law request or download a copy of The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God’s Law?