Delight in The Law of The LordDan Doyle
Blessed the man who follows not
The counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
Nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
And meditates on his law day and night.
He is like a tree
Planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
And whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
Not so, the wicked, not so;
They are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
But the way of the wicked vanishes.
— Psalms 1:1-6
Could it be more clear? The law of the LORD is written into all of nature and is perfect. The law of the LORD is written into the conscience of every human being, because every human being born, no matter where, is a child of the living God. Indeed, “when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.” (Romans 2: 14-16)
Even though the natural law is written on the heart (conscience) of all human beings, we are still required to meditate on it. Christians who have come to know God, the author of that law, are challenged to meditate on it, to know it, to understood it, and to practice it with their very lives. When we do this, it is no longer a law in the human sense, rather, it is the source of our liberation from the foolishness of sin.
The laws of man are written in recognition of our sinfulness. They are there to protect us from the lawless actions of others, or to punish us for our own. The law of the LORD, on the other hand, because it is natural, liberates us to become more fully human, more fully what God made us to be. God’s law points us toward the delight of heaven.
When we meditate on the law of the LORD, we bear the fruits of goodness, of moral character. The law of the LORD fills us with a love of life, all of life, naturally. Our lives become meaningful. We become engaged in doing the good, making a difference in this world that belongs to God, not man. What we do, we do in accord with the law of the LORD and, therefore, our actions are life-giving and fruitful.
But for those who defy the law of the LORD, who defy the law written in their conscience, simply for their own aggrandizement, for their own personal pleasure, or advantage are, in truth, dry, empty chaff, which, despite all of their pride and self-importance, will be blown, infertile and useless, before the slightest wind.
Blessed, indeed, is the one who does not listen to these, who does not desire to be their company, no matter how they dress up the promise of immediate benefit. To avoid the company of the wicked is good for one’s health. It is good for one’s mental and physical health, and it is good for the eternal health of one’s soul.
To follow the law of the LORD is to follow the natural good that was infused into all of creation from the beginning. As human beings, we know that this is not easy, that there is much temptation in life that “appears,” on the surface, to be beautiful and we are weak. We know that meditating on the law of the LORD is one thing, and that acting always in accord with it is another. As Christians, we know that the LORD loves us, and that he knows how difficult it is for us. We also know that he will magnanimously give us the grace we need to make the attempt, again and again. We know we can have faith in God’s love and forgiveness. We know that the LORD will never abandon us. In this we find the happiness that our souls desire, happiness that can endure even the suffering that will come our way in this world, for living in accord with the law of the LORD.
This is the paradox that our Christian faith is rooted in. As Christians we know that, in our submission to the law of the LORD, we are liberated from the slavery of sin. We, therefore, rejoice in the law of the LORD.
Dan Doyle is a retired professor of English and Humanities. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology. To read more of Dan’s work, click here.