TODAY’S READING: PSALM 119
Psalm 119 is all about God’s law, commandments, rules, precepts, testimonies, statutes, and words.
Or is it?
As I was reading the psalm this morning, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that Psalm 119 is all about love.
“God is love.” – 1 John 4:8
How do we know God is love? What makes God’s love real to us?
“God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” – 1 John 4:9
Psalm 119 states a connection between life and God’s law, commandments, rules, precepts, testimonies, statutes, and words.
“Give me life according to your word.” – verse 25
“Give me life in your ways.” – verse 37
“I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.” – verse 93
“Give me life according to your rules.” – verse 156
But, we saw in 1 John 4 that we live when God’s love is manifested to us when Jesus laid down his life for us on the cross. We live when we come to know that God’s law, commandments, rules, precepts, testimonies, statutes, and words are all about laying down your life for the benefit of another. That is love.
In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus showed the relationship between love and law.
“And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. this is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'”
Jesus said everything depends, or hangs, on love. Love is the single principle that holds the creation together.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” – 1 John 4:18
Fear, not hate, is the opposite of love. We fear that we will be without what we need or want. This fear then propels us to act like Satan – lying and doing violence. James 4:2 says, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”
Fear is the emotion that drives all lying and violence in the world. But, there is no fear in love and perfect love casts out all fear.
Therefore, in Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
When you no longer fear that you will be without what you need or want, then you are able to love your enemies. You are no longer desiring and coveting what they have. Instead, you are willing to lose everything that you have so that your enemy will be loved.
Therefore, in Matthew 16:25, Jesus said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
We try to save our life by holding on to whatever we have through lies and violence. This is the way of Satan’s kingdom and the world. But, if we lose our life, that is if we let go of protecting everything we have through lies and violence, then we find life. Then we know the love of God and can live.
The more I spend time with Jesus and the scriptures, the more I understand that salvation is not going to heaven. Salvation is freedom from the slavery of the fear of death. The fear of death leads us to act through all manner of lies and violence. But, salvation is the freedom to live through love. Salvation is to no longer protect my life and my possessions through lies and violence.
With this understanding of law, commandments, etc. depending on love and salvation as the freedom from lies and violence to love, even your enemies, Psalm 119 has some interesting revelation on how Jesus lived and how we are live like him.
“Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.” – Psalm 119:23
Jesus’ enemies were continually plotting against him, but he meditated on God’s love. Jesus never considered lies and violence toward his enemies because he was always meditating on God’s love.
“Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!” – Psalm 119:29
False ways are lying and violence. We need to pray that all lying and violence – no exceptions – would be far from us. And, we need to pray that God would teach us his love.
“Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me; for I trust in your word.” – Psalm 119:41-42
When we have God’s promised salvation, the freedom to love with no need for lies and violence, then, and only then, can we respond to our enemies with love. It’s when we are free from lies and violence that we can repay evil with good instead of evil with evil as the world does.
“The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.” – Psalm 119:51
In our flesh, when someone really gets on us, we want to get back at them in an equal manner through some sort of lie or violence. But, Jesus never did that. He never did because even when the ridicule of his enemies was at its worst – if you are the son of God then take yourself down from the cross – he did not turn away from God’s love.
There are many, many more instances in Psalm 119 where replacing law, commandments, rules, precepts, testimonies, statutes, and words with love and salvation with freedom from lies and violence reveal deeper insight about how we are to be conformed to the image of Jesus.