Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2, ESV)
His delight is in the law of the Lord. What delight is there in in the Law? After reading the New Testament, the Apostle Paul in particular, we know the Law does not make us righteous but in fact more guilty. The Gospel is superior to the Law; the Gospel is good news and the Law is bad news right?
It’s just not that simple. Our natural state is sinful, and the Law is limited in its ability to restrain evil. We cannot perfectly keep God’s law and become righteous. But… the Gospel is about what Jesus has already done. His sacrifice becomes our righteousness. Jesus said those who love him do what? Keep his commandments. The commands of Christ are not about legalism, but ultimately about bringing glory and honor to God. It is in our best interest, and those around us, to listen to the Word of God that comes through Jesus Christ and live that life. Jesus came to do the will of his Father in heaven, giving us the perfect example of humility and service that we are to emulate. It becomes our desire to keep the commands of Christ. But David is writing about the Law of the Old Covenant, not the New Testament commands of Jesus right? They are two different things, right?
Some things to keep in mind about God’s Law:
1. The Law teaches us about God. Paul thought of the Law as a tutor or school master. While it cannot make us righteous it can teach us what pleases God, his nature, his will for his children, etc. Just look at the 10 Commandments. The first four are about our relationship with God. Commandments 5 – 9 are about how we relate to each other. The final command demonstrates that sin is not just about what we do but how we think. We love God because he first loved us; if we love him we will keep his commandments, not out of legal obligation but out of our desire to please him. We can learn a lot about God by reading the Old Testament, the Law included.
2. The Law is a gift from God. Every good and perfect gift comes from above and the Law is no different. The Hebrews were God’s chosen people and the Law, including the Ten Commandments, were given to them in the wilderness of Sinai. The Law of the Lord is the Word of God, and the Word of God is nothing less than truth that brings life. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, not to abolish them. He is the incarnation of God’s Word and the embodiment of God’s perfect Law.
3. The Law is not the opposite of the Gospel. Remember that 10th commandment? Coveting is a sin that takes place in our thoughts. James says “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15) Jesus preached that lust is adultery committed already in the heart. But the Law goes beyond a list of what not to do. When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus says “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” and also “love your neighbor as yourself.” He didn’t make that up on the spot or begin a new religious teaching; he was quoting the Old Testament! The command to love the Lord God with heart, soul and strength is found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and love your neighbor is from Leviticus of all places. (Lev. 19:18)
Psalm 1 contrasts the way of the righteous and the wicked. For those made righteous by God’s Son, his Law is our delight.