Saturday, April 1, 2006

Delighting in Instruction

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
(Psalm 1:2)
Here is a man who finds no pleasure in the counsel of the ungodly, the path of the sinner, or the seat of the mocker (v. 1). No, he takes his pleasure elsewhere, in the law of the Lord.

At first glance, it might look like this guy is a serious rule-keeper and point-scorer, that he is all about the “regs” (regulations). But that is to misunderstand what the law of the Lord is all about. Rule-keeping is about the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That’s the death-dealing fruit Adam and Eve partook of in the Garden. But the law of the Lord is about personal relationship with the living God. It is the Tree of Life that Adam and Eve chose not to eat.

We have been conditioned, largely by the translation of the Hebrew word torah as “law,” to think in terms of rules and regulations instead of relationship. We also have a negative idea of what law is all about, so we tend to think of the law of the Lord as that set of rules God is waiting for us to violate, so He can zap us.

Not so!

The Hebrew word torah, can just as well be translated as “instruction,” “direction,” or “teaching.” The law of the Lord is not about God waiting to drop the bomb on us, but it is His direction, to help us live effective, productive, even joyful lives. It is His instruction manual for planet earth, the manufacturer’s guide for optimum performance.

We think of this law, primarily, as the “Ten Commandments.” But that is not what the Scriptures call them. In Hebrew, they are the “Ten Words.” We also think of them as “thou shalt nots.” But these are ten words of love, ten words of covenant. They begin with, “I am the LORD your God.” When we understand that we are in covenant with the Lord and Creator of the universe, the “thou shalt nots,” become more like “you don’t have to’s.” We don’t need any other gods to take care of us; we can call on the name of the Lord, and He is more than sufficient for every need we could ever have. So we don’t have to kill, steal, lie, or covet to live a rich and satisfying life. In fact, doing those things actually take away from the good life. The Ten Words are actually ten words of promise and blessing.

No wonder the man in Psalm 1 delights in the law of Lord and talks about it to himself all the time; it leads him to success, prosperity and a fruitfulness that will not fade away (v. 3). Those who ignore the instruction of the Lord end up going in the wrong direction, one that leads to their destruction. They do not last, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away (v. 4-5). Not so the righteous, for God has already charted out for them the pathway to blessing (v.6).

In what do you delight, and on what do you meditate (talk about to yourself) all the time? Are they the words of instruction and direction that lead you to success and prosperity? Consider the life-giving Word of God.