We tend to see the Law as a set of rules and regulations that merely must be obeyed - a "what not to do" list. Because of this, we consider it as a burden to endure, a rule list to put up with, and a set of regulations to complete, simply to keep out of trouble.
However, as I was reading through Psalm 19 yesterday evening, I was struck by the difference in how I tend to view God's law, and how David did:
"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
"More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward."
- Psalm 19:7-11 (paragraph-spacing mine).
To say David had a different view of God's law than we tend to hold would be an understatement. Adoration pores out of the psalmist as he describes the law with words that ignite a craving. He describes the Law as reviving souls, imparting wisdom, causing joy, enlightening minds, enduring forever, and righteously true. David compares the law as better than gold and sweeter than honey, and tells of the reward for those who keep it.
These are not words a man would use if he considered the Law a burden.
What is the difference then? Where is the disconnect between my begrudging endurance and David's passionate pursuit?
A right understanding.
The law is not given to prohibit our fun, to stifle our joy, or to burden our souls. The law was given to point us towards true life.
God gave the law to show us who we truly are. Without it, we would not realize our sin and need of a Saviour (Romans 3:20, 7:7-13). The Law displays our sin nature as we continually far short of God's perfect requirements. In our own strength, we can't perfectly worship God rightly. We don't strive for honesty or pursue purity. Instead, we seek to live lives that bring us enjoyment and satisfaction - we naturally desire to make ourselves our highest priority, rebelling against God's first command that He alone is - and must be - God (Exodus 20:3). The Law simply proclaims what was always evident: in our sin nature, we do not worship God - and we don't want to.
There is a flip-side though. The Law not only shows us our sin: it also displays our need of a Saviour. If the Law displays to us the hideousness of sin, it allows us the opportunity to repent. We know we have rebelled against God - now, we are able to seek restitution. Now the Holy Spirit can convict and work in the hearts of those chosen by the Father. As those whom God has chosen surrender to Him and place their faith and trust in Christ's substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf - those who are Christ's are now graciously given the Law so that we might know how to honour, serve, and worship God rightly.
The Law is one of the greatest blessings to the Christian - not to be seen simply as a set of rules to condemn, but also as a guideline on how to live out our faith.
Christian, cherish the Law. Thank God for giving it so that you could see your need for a Saviour, and praise Him for allowing that same law to guide you in the path of righteousness for God's glory and your good.
God's Law is no burden to those who are in Christ, but rather, a joy.