Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Meditating on the Law

"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

Why would someone delight in the law of the LORD? And Why would someone meditate on the law day and night? When I first read verses like this, my initial thoughts are usually that this seems like legalism. Good people try really hard to meditate on the law, while the sinners/scoffers are those who don't do the law. The law can't justify me, so why in the world would I meditate on it?

Let me say that I think this is a misunderstanding of the law and why the psalmist would write these things. Here are a few random thoughts on meditating on God's law and what it means for us. 

First, the law was a gift given to Israel. It wasn't originally intended to be a punishment or form of condemnation. Rather, it was given to Israel so that they would know more about the God who brought them out of Egypt. God's law is a written inscription of his character. It gives us a glimpse of his holiness and his character. Therefore, we are able to know more of who God is when we meditate on this law. 

Second, the law was given as a gift that showed Israel how to live life as it was intended to be. The law was given after the Fall, because before the Fall, there was no need for correction. Since the Fall, everything got jacked up. Our relationship with God was shattered, our relationships with each other were broken, and our relationship with creation was marred. The law was an agent to bring things back to the way they were supposed to be. The law was God's instructions and guidelines to live as his holy people. This was not a form of supression intended to hold Israel down with these intense rules. Rather, it was a form of love, showing Israel the best way to live. It was for Israel's good. 

These are a couple reasons why a psalmist might be so excited about the law! He (unlike us) didn't view it as a burdensome legalism. Rather, the law painted a portrait of the awesome God he served. The law was a gracious gift from the Creator. The law shows us what life should be like. Meditating on the law makes sense then, because by meditating on it, we are able to see God and understand him more. 

Lastly, as it relates to us, should be meditate on the law day and night? My only thought here, is that we should meditate on the law as well. We should meditate on God and all his excellencies. Only, for us it may look a little different. Jesus was the perfect fulfillment and embodiment of the law. He was the exact image of God, and the perfect living representation of everything in the law. It is through Jesus that we know God and his character most clearly, and it is through Jesus that we see what life was supposed to be like. 

We were created in the image of God, and were intended to live in that. However, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, that image, like a broken mirror was shattered. What remains is a broken picture. The law gave us an inscription of what it looks like to live as a restored image bearing human. But, as we all know, we fail to do this. Jesus on the other hand, is himself, the perfect image bearer. He not only gives us an example of what it looks like to live in the image of God, he himself has the power to restore us to our image bearing humanity. 

So, yes, meditate on the law, but do so in the context that Jesus is the perfect embodiment and fulfillment of the law. Jesus did what the law, weakened by the flesh could not do. Jesus saved us from the condemnation that the law brought, and he gives us power to once again live as true humans made in the image of God. He restores life to what it was meant to be. The law was powerless to do this. So yes, delight in Jesus, the perfect fulfillment of the law!

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