How I Love Your Law

Psa 119:97-104

Written by the one described by God as being “after his own heart” or like-minded. (Acts 13:22 1 Samuel 13:14)

Using only a few words, the writer has produced permutations and combinations of meaning which display his holy familiarity with his subject, and the sanctified ingenuity of his mind. He never repeats himself; for if the same sentiment recurs it is placed in a fresh connection, and so exhibits another interesting shade of meaning.

There is an evident growth in the subject matter. The earlier verses are of such a character as to lend themselves to the hypothesis that the author was a young man, while many of the later passages could only have suggested themselves to age and wisdom. In every portion, however, it is the fruit of deep experience, careful observation, and earnest meditation. Spurgeon, Treasury of David

These words are obviously from the pen of one who has spent a lifetime doing just as the opening verse describes, meditating all day long on the law of God. See v. 97b and 99b.

God’s people have a great love to his word; yea, such a hearty affection as cannot easily be expressed… The word deserves it in respect of the author; …it is God’s word, and they love it for the author’s sake, the signification of his mind, as a letter from a beloved friend is very welcome to us. The word is …God’s epistle and love-letter to our souls, therefore for his sake it is the more welcome to us. …Now for us to be strangers to it, and little conversant about it, argues some contempt of God; as to slight a letter of a friend shows little esteem of the writer. The saints they put it into their bosoms, and it gains upon their hearts. Why? It is God’s epistle, it is my best friend’s letter. This is certain, love God and you love his law; for the author’s sake it will be dear and precious to you. Thomas Manton

Love for the law of God directs our:

A. attention

Note: Attention is consciousness and something more. It is consciousness voluntarily applied, under its law of limitations, to some determinate object; it is consciousness concentrated. –Sir W. Hamilton. [1913 Webster]

all the day v. 97

continually throughout the day. During those times when we are performing “mindless” routine tasks which don’t require our full concentration, our thoughts should turn to things of the Lord. The only way that will be possible is if our mind is saturated with the law of the Lord. David did not need the scroll before his eyes in order to meditate on God’s law; it was so familiar to him he could recall it at will at any time of day.

ever with me v. 98

perpetual, from one day to the next. If God’s word is to always be fresh in our minds, our minds must have a constantly fresh supply; that means daily, at least. You can’t expect to tank up on “Bible bits” on Sunday and have it last for the remaining six days. Daily devotional and study time followed by meditation throughout the day is absolutely essential for robust spiritual health.

The result:

wisdom v. 98

more than his enemies. Meditation on God’s Word which reveals God Himself to us enables us to understand his purpose – to defend and bless the church. When we understand God’s purpose, we have the wisdom to work with rather than against it as our enemies would. This should not be a surprise considering God’s promise to Israel: see Deut. 4:1-6

insight v. 99

more than his teachers. God’s Word provides insight which cannot be taught by earthly teachers. The 12-year old Jesus embodied this very principle: see Luke 2:46-48 It is important to note that neither David nor Jesus despised their teachers; even though they excelled their teachers they still profited from them. The point is that the understanding which comes from meditating on God’s Word enabled them to surpass their instructors, especially those who were not likewise students of the Word.

discernment v. 100

more than his elders. There is a discernment which comes from knowing Scripture that is not matched by experience. Elihu in his first discourse on Job’s plight rightly understood that “it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” ESV Job 32:8-9

Love for the law of God directs our:

B. affections

admiration v.97

To the professor it is a task imposed to satisfy conscience… To the child of God it is food and medicine, light and comfort yea, ” life from the dead.” The law of precept in the world is a ” law of liberty” – a law of love – in his heart. His former obedience was the bondage of fear. But how different is the effect of constraining love! He now delights to view it in every lineament. He dwells upon every feature with intense enjoyment. Before, it was his confinement his chain. Now, it is his liberty his ornament. He is not what he was, “Old things are passed away: behold, all things become new.” Charles Bridges, Psalm 119, 1827

ardor v. 97

It is my meditation all the day. This was both the effect of his love and the cause of it. He meditated in God’s word because he loved it, and then loved it the more because he meditated in it. Spurgeon, Treasury

May I love it so that I may be always meditating upon it, and by continual meditation yet more enlarging my love and delight in it! So let it prove an ever-springing source of heavenly enjoyment and holy conversation! Bridges

delight v. 103

Nothing is sweeter and more delightful to the palate than honey, especially that which is fresh from the honeycomb. Likewise there is nothing more delightful to the spiritual palate, nothing more satisfying to the soul, than the word of God. The words of invitation – “come all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” Matt. 11:28-29; the words of comfort – “I would not have you to be ignorant …concerning those who have fallen asleep” 1 Thess. 4:13-18; the words of correction – “those whom the Lord loves he chastens” Heb. 12:6

desire v. 103

He could not have enough of it, so ardently did he love it: all the day was not too long for his converse with it… It is said of some men that the more you know them the less you admire them; but the reverse is true of God’s word. Familiarity with the word of God breeds affection, and affection seeks yet greater familiarity. Spurgeon, Treasury

Remember Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus who sat at Jesus’ feet to drink in all she could of his teaching, and for which Jesus commended her: “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 Mary acted on her desire to be filled with God’s Word, and in Martha’s opinion neglecting her duties to do so.

Love for the law of God directs our:

C. actions

meditation v. 97

Meditation = the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind. Webster, 1828

So much of contemporary culture is transient (of short duration, brief and fleeting); grazing, channel surfing, flitting from one activity to another, driven to see how fast this thing can be done so we can move on to the next thing. Even Wal-Mart keeps track of which associates have the highest rate dragging stuff across the scanner. That is the exact opposite of meditation – pondering on a subject, thinking about it from all angles, pursuing all its connections, exhausting its meaning and significance before moving on to another topic.

obedience v. 100

keep your precepts. Pleasing God requires knowledge of his standard; love fuels meditation on his Word which fuels the desire to please him which motivates to obedience. David’s wisdom, insight and discernment did not merely inform his mind – it governed his actions also, directing him into obedience to God’s laws. Study and meditation on God’s Word should always result in action as we put into practice those things we have learned.

restraint v. 101

Love for God and his Word and a desire for obedience to God’s law compels the Psalmist to stay away from the boundaries, from questionable things, from approaching those things that would encourage disobedience. It is not merely that he doesn’t pursue the things of the world, he actively restrains himself from even heading in their direction.

The apostle John comes at it from the perspective of desire when he says “don’t love the world or the things of the world” 1 John 2:15; David recognized that he didn’t have to get too close to wrong things before he would begin to desire them, and you know, things lead to things! His restraint was purposeful; he wasn’t just saying “No!” to evil. He instead was saying “Yes” to doing what is right and pleasing to God.

focused following v. 102

David not only exercised restraint, he kept his feet going in the right direction. Even when there was nothing in particular to tempt him and draw him away from obedience to God, David kept focused on obedience to God’s laws. He knew that so long as he kept his attention and meditation on what was right, he would act in a right way. If his habit was to speak in a way that was edifying, he would not be guilty of profanity. If he kept his thirst satisfied with water he would never get drunk. Focused following fills all of life with what is right so there isn’t room for what is sinful.

Love for the law of God directs our:

D. attitude

constant awareness v. 98

A person who suffers from a chronic disease or pain is constantly aware of its presence. Sure, the symptoms may ebb and flow but they are always there. David spoke of God’s word, his commandment, as always being present with him and he as always being aware of it. It is that constant awareness of the principles and precepts of God’s word that serves to govern our actions and inform our decisions.

respect v. 101

The one who is continually meditating on the word of God will have a great respect for it because he understands it to be the very word of God, authoritative and infallible and living. Therefore he will do all in his power to honor it and follow its commands out of respect for what it is and the author who wrote it.

dependence v. 102

David credited his continued obedience to God’s preserving grace; it was God who taught him, enabling him to persevere in holiness. Only in continued dependence on God would David be able to stay true to God do what is right; the same is true for us. A primary way in which God gives us the grace we need is through his Word, the reading and preaching and teaching of it accompanied by diligent meditation on it.

hate deceit v. 104

A love for and understanding of God’s precepts stimulates a hatred of deceit, especially the ultimate deceit of sin. Notice I called it the deceit of sin, not the sin of deceit. Every sin is an act of deceit by which we deceive ourselves into thinking that either this sin isn’t really that bad or God will look the other way while we get away with it. A proper comprehension of God and his law causes us to hate that sort of attitude and in its place love the pursuit of holiness.

E. Conclusion

So where are you today in your attention, affections, actions and attitude?

“What is our daily use of the word of God ? Are we satisfied with a slight looking, or seeking an intimate acquaintance with it ? Is its influence ever present, ever practical ? Do we prize it as a welcome guest ? Is it our delightful companion and guide ? Oh! meditate in this blessed book. “Eat the word,” when you have “found it ; and it will be unto you the joy and rejoicing of your heart.” The name of Jesus its great subject will be more precious your love will be inflamed your perseverance established and your heart enlivened in the spirit of praise. Thus bringing your mind into close and continual contact with “the testimonies of God” and pressing out the sweetness from the precious volume, it will drop, as from the honeycomb, daily comfort and refreshment upon your heart.” Bridges

EXPOSITION OF PSALM CXIX: AS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE CHARACTER AND EXERCISES OF CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE by Charles Bridges; 16th Edition, 1842

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