Written by Talitha Arnold
How have you experienced God's "liberating law?"
What freedoms might you be willing to give up to follow God's law?
What makes a law unjust? How should a Christian respond to such laws?
Princes persecute me without cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your words.
I rejoice at your word
like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous ordinances.
Great peace have those who love your law;
nothing can make them stumble.
I hope for your salvation, O Lord,
and I fulfill your commandments.
My soul keeps your decrees;
I love them exceedingly.
I keep your precepts and decrees,
for all my ways are before you.
I Love Your Law
"My soul keeps your decrees, I love them exceedingly." - Psalm 119:167
On this Eve of Independence Day and its celebration of freedom, today's Psalm instead praises a restriction on freedom, i.e. God's law. "I love your law," the Psalmist sings. "Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous ordinances." He promises to fulfill God's commandments, precepts, and decrees.
The Psalmist gives up some of his individual freedom, but finds the freedom of being in right relationship with God and others. "Great peace have those who love your law," the Psalmist affirms. "Nothing can make them stumble."
For the Jews, the giving of the law on Sinai was as liberating an event as the parting of the sea or manna in the wilderness. The law guided them like the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day.
Not even kings were above the law. When those like David or Ahab thought otherwise, God sent prophets like Nathan and Elijah to remind them.
To be sure, not all laws are just. For the Psalmist's "great peace," our human laws need God's law as the plumb line.
Yet unjust laws don't negate the need for the rule of law. Law provides structure, and at its best, justice for all. In "America the Beautiful," Katherine Lee Bates asked God to "confirm our soul in self-control, our liberty in law." The composer of Psalm 119 would agree with her vision.
Thank you, God, for your liberating gift of the law. Confirm the soul of our nation in self-control, our liberty in law. Amen.