What Is the Meaning of Psalm 119?

What is the meaning of Psalm 119?

If you peruse the first page of Google results, then you will come to the common understanding that Psalm 119 is about God’s word. For most modern day Christians, if the psalm is about God’s word, then that means Psalm 119 is ultimately about the Bible. Therefore, you often find statements like the following to explain the meaning of Psalm 119.

  1. The Bible, the word of God, is all sufficient.
  2. The truth of the Bible, God’s word, is reliable.
  3. God’s character is reflected through the Bible, his word.
  4. The Bible, God’s word, is authoritative.

Matthew Henry, who’s Bible commentary is exhaustive and found everywhere, said, “The general scope and design of this psalm is to magnify the Divine law and make it honourable.” For most modern day Christians, Divine law comes from the Old Testament, specifically the ten commandments. The law is often equated with Torah. We commonly think of Torah as law, but it is better thought of as the teaching of parents to their children.

In almost every verse of Psalm 119, there is a synonym for Torah. Roughly, there are ten different terms referring to Torah or the word of God throughout the psalm – law, way, testimonies, commandments, precepts, word, judgments, righteousness, statutes, and truth/faithfulness. Depending on your translation, you will also see the word ordinances.

According to Matthew Henry, Psalm 119 is an extended prayer or meditation that declares 1) Torah is to be held up as a source of blessing and right conduct and 2) the writer is dedicating himself to Torah. Today, this gets translated to the idea that the Old Testament, God’s law, more specifically the ten commandments, is a source of blessing and right conduct and we should dedicate ourselves to keeping the law, the ten commandments, and everything God said in the Old Testament.

But, as I read through Psalm 119 the other day, the Spirit showed me another way to read and understand the psalm. To read the psalm as the Spirit revealed to me requires two key points of understanding.

First, the Bible is not God’s word. Rather, Jesus is God’s word. My previous post, Do You Believe the Bible is God’s Word?, details my thinking on this. So, I will not rehash it here. Therefore, whenever we read “word” in Psalm 119 we should not think about the Old Testament or the Bible. Instead, we should think Jesus.

Second, 1 John 4.8 and both say, “God is love.” Note that nowhere in scripture does it say “God is law.”

Further, Matthew 22.35-40 says, “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.'” Luke 10.25-28 records virtually the same exact exchange.

What is Jesus saying?

All of the law, the ten commandments, the Old Testament, and the Torah can be summed up in just one word – love! Love for God and love for neighbor are the only two commandments that Jesus ever gave. Amazingly, Jesus gave us two commandments and neither of them are from the ten commandments that Moses gave. (So instead of Christians posting the ten commandments in courthouses, schoolrooms and elsewhere, shouldn’t Christians simply post Jesus’ two commandments to love God and love neighbor as yourself?) Therefore, whenever we read one of those ten synonyms mentioned above in Psalm 119 for God’s word, law, or Torah, our minds should immediately turn to love.

Further, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The way of Jesus, the way of God, is love. You can see how I understand the way is love in my post Creation: A Witness to Jesus. So, whenever see the word way in Psalm 119, our minds should turn to love.

The idea that love is the way tells us something about the false way and mentioned several times in Psalm 119 and the wicked and insolent who take it. 1 John 4.18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Love casts out fear. When our way is motivated by love, fear cannot be a possible motivation for us. But, when we are not perfected by love, we are moving in the false way. Then, our actions are motivated by the false way of fear. Ultimately, it is fear that prevents us from loving God, ourselves, and our neighbor. Therefore, when we read “the false way” in Psalm 119 we can substitute fear.

As the Spirit showed me where to substitute Jesus, love, and fear into Psalm 119, I was overwhelmed with the length, height, breadth, and depth of God’s love. Below is the entirety of Psalm 119 as the Spirit revealed it to me. Read it and see how overwhelming and all-encompassing God’s love is.

Psalm 119

Blessed are those who love is blameless, who walk in the love of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his love, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do not fear, but walk in his love! You have commanded your love to be kept diligently. Oh that my love may be steadfast in your keeping your love! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all of your love. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous love. I will keep your love; do not utterly forsake me!

How can a young man keep his love pure? By guarding it according to your love. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your love! I have stored Jesus Christ in my heart, that I might not fear you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your love! With my lips I declare all the love of your mouth. In the love of your love I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your love and fix my eyes on your love. I will delight in your love; I will not forget Jesus Christ.

Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your love. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your love. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your love from me! My soul is consumed with longing for your love at all times. You rebuke the fearful ones, who wander from your love. Take away from me fear, for I have kept your love. Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your love. Your love is my delight; love is my counselor.

My soul clings to fear; give me life according to Jesus Christ! When I told of my fear, you answered me; teach me your love! Make me understand the love of your love, and I will meditate on your wondrous love. My soul melts away for fear; strengthen me according to Jesus Christ! Put fear far from me and graciously teach me your love! I have chosen the way of love; I set your love before me. I cling to your love, O Lord; let me not be put to fear! I will run in the love of your love when you enlarge my heart!

Teach me, O Lord, the love of your love; and I will keep love to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your love and observe love with my whole heart. Lead me in the love of your love, for I delight in love. Incline my heart to your love, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your love. Confirm to your servant life, that you may be held in awe. Turn away the fear that I dread, for your love is good. Behold, I long for your love; in your love give me life!

Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your life; then I shall have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in Jesus Christ. And take not Jesus Christ utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your love. I will keep your love continually, forever and ever, and I shall love in a wide place, for I have sought your love. I will also speak of your love before kings and shall not be put to fear, for I find my delight in your love, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your love, which I love, and I will meditate on your love.

Remember Jesus Christ to your servant, in whom you have made me hope. He is my comfort in my fear, that your life gives me life. The fearful utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your love. When I think of your love from of old, I take comfort, O Lord. How fear seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your love. Your love has been my song in the house of my sojourning. I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your love. This blessing has fallen to me, that I kept your love.

The Lord is my portion, I promise to keep your love. I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your life. When I think on my fears, I turn my feet to your love; I hasten and do not delay to keep your love. Though the cords of the fearful ensnare me, I do not forget your love. At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous love. I am a companion of all who are in awe of you, of those who keep your love. The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your love.

You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord, according to Jesus Christ. Teach me love and knowledge, for I believe in your love. Before I was afflicted I feared, but now I keep your love. You are good and do good; teach me your love. The fearful smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your love; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your love. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your love. The love of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your love. Those who are in awe of you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in Jesus Christ. I know, O Lord, that your love is righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your life to your servant. Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your love is my delight. Let the fearful be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your love. Let those who are in awe of you turn to me, that they may know your love. May my heart be blameless in your love, that I may not be put to fear!

My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in Jesus Christ. My eyes long for your life; I ask, “When will you comfort me?” For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your love. How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? The fearful have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your love. All your love is sure; the fearful persecute me with falsehood; help me! The fearful have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your love. In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the love of your mouth.

Forever, O Lord, Jesus Christ is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your love endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants. If your love had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your love, for by your love you have given me life. I am yours; save me, for I have sought your love. The fearful lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your love. I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your love is exceedingly broad.

Oh how I love your love! It is my meditation all the day. Your love makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your love is my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your love. I hold back my feet from every fearful way, in order to keep Jesus Christ. I do not turn aside from your love, for you have taught me. How sweet is Jesus Christ to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your love I get understanding; therefore I hate every fearful way.

Jesus Christ is a lamp to my feet and a light to my love. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous love. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to Jesus Christ! Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your love. I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your love. The fearful have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your love. Your love is my heritage forever, for your love is the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your love forever, to the end.

I hate fearfulness, but I love your love. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Jesus Christ. Depart from me, you fearful, that I may keep the love of my God. Uphold me according to your life, that I may live, and let me not be put to fear in Jesus Christ! Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your love continually! You spurn all who are fearful from your love, for their cunning is in vain. All the fearful of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your love. My flesh trembles for awe of you, and I am in awe of your love.

I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors. Give your servant a pledge of good; let not the fearful oppress me. My eyes long for salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous life. Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your love. I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your love! It is time for the Lord to act, for your love has been broken. Therefore I love your love above gold, above fine gold. Therefore I consider all your love to be right; I hate every fearful way.

Your love is wonderful; therefore my soul keeps your love. The unfolding of Jesus Christ gives light; he imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your love. Turn to me and be gracious me, as is your love with those who love your name. Keep steady my steps according to your life, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your love. Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your love. My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your love.

Righteous are you, O Lord, and right is your love. You have appointed your love in righteousness and in faithfulness. My zeal consumers me, because my foes forget Jesus Christ. Your life is well tried, and your servant loves it. I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your love. Your love is righteous forever, and your love is true. Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your love is my delight. Your love is righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! I will keep your love. I call to you; save me, that I may observe your love. I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in Jesus Christ. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your life. Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your love give me life. The fearful draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; the fearful are far from your love. But you are near, O Lord, and all your love is true. Long have I known from your love that you have founded love forever.

Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your love. Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your life! Salvation is far from the fearful, for the fearful do not seek your love. Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your love. Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your love. I look at the fearful with disgust, because they do not keep your love. The sum of Jesus Christ is truth, and every bit of your love ensures forever.

Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of Jesus Christ. I rejoice at Jesus Christ like one who finds great spoil. I hate and abhor fear, but I love your love. Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous love. Great peace have those who love your love; nothing can make them fear. I hope for your salvation, O Lord, and I do your love. My soul keeps your love; I love it exceedingly. I keep your love, for all my fears are before you.

Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to Jesus Christ! Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to Jesus Christ. My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your love. My tongue will sing of Jesus Christ, for all your love is right. Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your love. I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your love is my delight. Let my soul live and praise you, and let your love help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your love.

Jesus, Not the Law, Reveals Who and What the Father Is

TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 33-34

The Law.

Genesis. Exodus. Leviticus. Numbers. Deuteronomy. The Torah. Taken together, the scriptures call these books the Law.

Moses is assigned authorship of these five books. Moses is the author of the law. Throughout scripture, Moses stands, and is synonymous with, the law. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses.”

From Exodus through Deuteronomy, we have read how Moses, the law, was used as a guardian, or school master, on Israel’s journey through the wilderness. But, Moses could not take Israel into the promised land. This teaches us that the law cannot give us life.

Instead of Moses, Joshua leads Israel into the promised land. Joshua, the son of Nun. Or, Joshua, the son of life. Joshua is the Hebrew name that when translated into Greek becomes Jesus. And, God is life. Therefore, Joshua, the son of life, is Jesus, the son of God. Like Joshua led Israel into the promised land, Jesus leads us into eternal life.

I want to examine what we learn about the law and Jesus from Moses’ death. Keep in mind throughout that Moses stands for the law.

Then, I want to ponder what Jesus said about the law. I want to ask questions. But, they are questions I have no answers to yet.

THE LAW SERVED THE LORD

Deuteronomy 34:5 says that Moses was “the servant of the Lord.”

The law was the servant of the Lord.

How so?

Galatians 3:23-24 says, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.”

The law served God by guarding us until Jesus came.

Now, some will argue that the law only served this function for Israel because the law was given to them.

But, Paul says otherwise. Romans 2:14-15 says, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse even excuse them.”

Yes, the Gentiles did not have the law. But, by nature, the Gentiles at times did what the law required. Therefore, the Gentiles were a law to themselves. They were a law even though they did not have the law. As a law to themselves, the Gentiles show that “the work of the law” is within them, or written on their hearts.

We already saw that the law served God as a guardian, training people as a school master until Christ came. This was the law’s work. While the Gentiles were not given the law, the work of the law, guardianship, was still taking place within them until Christ came.

THE LAW DIED IN MOAB

Deuteronomy 34:5 says that Moses “died there in the land of Moab.”

The law died in Moab.

Why?

The meaning of Moab basically boils down to two questions. Who is your father? What is your father?

The law is your guardian, school master, teacher, instructor, guide, leading you to the place where you can answer the questions who is my father and what is my father. But, the law can only lead you to the place where these questions are answered. The law cannot answer these questions.

Therefore, the law died in Moab because it cannot answer your questions about who and what God is.

THE LAW DIED ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF THE LORD

Deuteronomy 34:5 says that Moses died in the land of Moab “according to the word of the Lord.”

From John 1:1-2, 14, we know that Jesus is the word of God. But, I don’t think many have recognized how the Old Testament uses the phrase “the word of the Lord.” Studied carefully, I believe that this phrase frequently speaks to the pre-incarnate Jesus. I wrote about this in The Word of the Lord – What, or Who, Is It?

The law died in the questions of who is your father and what is your father, according to the word of the Lord, or because of Jesus.

Galatians 3:25-29 says, “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.”

The law guarded us until Christ came. When Jesus came, he showed us that we are sons of God. In other words, he revealed to us our Father.

Jesus, not the law, answers the questions who is your father and what is your father.

In John 14:9-11, Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

This is just one such statement from Jesus where he says he reveals the Father, that he answers our questions of who and what the Father is, but there are many, many more.

ISRAEL MOURNED THE DEATH OF THE LAW FOR 30 DAYS

Deuteronomy 34:8 says, “And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days.”

Why was the death of the law wept over, mourned over, in the plains?

Mountains are high places. High places were believed to be closer to God. Therefore, mountains were places of worship. Also, mountains are where fruit is produced. The garden of Eden was on a mountain. Ezekiel 28:13-14 says, “You were in Eden, the garden of God…you were on the holy mountain of God.”

Plains are the opposite. In the plain, one is at a distance from God. The Hebrew word for plain is arabah. It literally means a desert, a wasteland. Plains carry the idea of sterility and infertility. No fruit is produced in the plain.

Israel is mourning that they have been under the guardianship of the law for 40 years, but they have produced no fruit. They have been barren. We see evidence of this in the two censuses that Moses took, which I wrote about in Jesus in the Second Census? The population in the second census near the end of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness was less than the population in the first census when Israel left Egypt. It was if Israel produced no fruit in the wilderness.

The mourning of the lack of fruit produced lasted for 30 days. The number 30 speaks to the time of maturity, the time until one is ready to serve the Lord, the time of ripening, the time between barrenness and fruit production.

  • Shelah, Peleg, and Serug all fathered children at the age of 30 (Genesis 11:14, 18, 22).
  • Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh (Genesis 41:46)
  • The Levites began their service at the age of 30 (Numbers 4).
  • David was 30 years old when he began to reign (2 Samuel 5:4).
  • Solomon wrote “thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge, to make you know what is right and true.” (Proverbs 22:20-21)
  • John the baptist likely began his ministry at 30 years of age as he was just six months older than Jesus.
  • Jesus began his ministry at about 30 years of age. (Luke 3:23)

That Jesus began his ministry at 30 years of age is interesting because the first mention of the number 30 in the Bible is in Genesis 6:15. Genesis 6:15 says, “This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits.”

When we consider the height of something, we think of its stature. Paul links the ideas of maturity, childhood, manhood, stature, and height in Ephesians 4:11-16.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro  by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness and deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

At 30, we have matured. We have reached manhood. We are ready to serve. We are ready to bear fruit. So, Israel mourned the death of the law and their barrenness under it for 30 days. They were ready to enter the land of fruitfulness.

JESUS FREES US FROM THE LAW

While under the law, Israel did not produce fruit. The promised land, eternal life, had to be entered before fruit production could begin. Joshua led Israel into its fruitfulness.

Deuteronomy 34:9 says, “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom.”

As I wrote above, Joshua and Jesus are the same name, one Hebrew and the other Greek. They mean the Lord saves.

The son of Nun means the son of life. God is life. Here, we see Joshua the son of Nun as Jesus the son of God.

Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom. Wisdom is equated with life in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 7:12 says, “For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.” Wisdom and money are similar in that they offer protection, but wisdom, not money, preserves life.

In Job 12:12, Job says, “Wisdom is with the aged.” Wisdom is linked with long life.

In a sense, Joshua is full of the Spirit of life.

Moses was the law, the letter, the ministry of death, the ministry of condemnation. Joshua is the son of life, full of wisdom, the ministry of the Spirit, the ministry of life, the ministry of righteousness.

“The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6 but all of chapters 3 and 4 convey the full meaning)

This is a picture of Jesus freeing us from the law to bear fruit.

Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

Jesus, who became a life-giving Spirit, frees us from the law.

Why?

To bear fruit.

Romans 7:4-6 says, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit to God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

Jesus frees us from the law to bear fruit to God. Jesus releases us from the law because we have died to the law which held us captive and was our guardian. Jesus did this so that we could serve God, bear fruit, in the newness of the Spirit instead of in the old way of a written law. This is why Galatians 3:23 says that against the fruit of the spirit “there is no law.”

JESUS FREED US FROM THE LAW TO KNOW THE FATHER

The law died in the land of Moab. The law could not answer our questions of who is our Father and what is our Father.

Jesus freed us from the law so that he could answer those questions for us. Jesus, not the law, not Moses, reveals who the Father is.

John 8 contains the famous scriptures that the truth will set you free and those whom the son sets free are free indeed. But, have you ever noticed that Jesus’ discussion with the Jews about freedom is linked with knowing who their father is?

In John 8:31, Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But, the Jews answered that they were offspring of Abraham. Right away the Jews say they know who their father is. They are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. Never mind that they had been enslaved to every world empire – the Egyptians, the Assyrian, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans. They ask Jesus how is that he says, “You will become free?”

What’s interesting is that Jesus and the Jews are on different wavelengths.

Jesus is saying that he will release them, he will set them free from blame. Jesus is saying he would set them free from the power and condemnation of sin.

But, the Jews say we know our father. He’s Abraham. We have never been enslaved to anyone. So, Jesus, how are you going to make us a free people? We already are a free people.

But, Jesus wasn’t talking about being free from other people or nations. In John 8:34, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” Jesus is telling the Jews they are enslaved, not to other nations, but to sin. He’s telling them he’s here to set them free from that slavery.

So, Jesus says in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus is saying that if I set you free from the power and condemnation of sin, then you will be a free people.

Jesus say he knows that the Jews are biological offspring of Abraham, but they are seeking to kill him because they are not spiritual offspring of Abraham. So, in John 8:38, Jesus says, “I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Eventually, Jesus makes it clear that his Father is God and the father of the Jews is the devil. Jesus was trying to set them free from the slavery of sin, the bondage of the law that they were held captive under, even imprisoned under, so that they could truly know who the Father is and what the Father is.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LAW

I’m going to ask some questions based on what I’ve written above and what I’ve observed reading the gospels. I have no answers to these questions yet. I’m still sorting through them.

Why does Jesus never take credit for the law or assign the origin of the law to his Father?

In Matthew, in his sermon on the Mount, Jesus says he did not come to abolish the law but fulfill it. He never says this law was the Father’s.

Then he makes a number of statements where he says, “You have heard that it was said…but I say to you.” Israel told Moses they did not want to hear directly from God. They told Moses to hear from God and then Moses could tell Israel what God said. This is why Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said.” Israel didn’t hear God directly say this. They heard Moses say this. Now, Jesus, as the prophet sent from God who we should listen to, says, “But, I say to you.”

So, Jesus quotes a portion of Moses’ law, but then he says this is what I say to you.

A question I’m asking is which is from God? Why doesn’t Jesus say, “God used to say…but now I say?” Why doesn’t Jesus say, “My Father used to say…but now he told me to tell you?”

When Jesus is asked about the greatest commandments in the law, he doesn’t even mention any of the 10 commandments. Instead he gives two commandments of love for God and neighbor and says all the law actually depends on those.

In Mark, the word law is not used that much, perhaps because it is the gospel of Jesus as the servant. In the few times the word  law is used, some are in reference to Jesus and his disciples breaking the law according to the Pharisees.

Another instance is when the Pharisees ask Jesus if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. When Jesus responds, he doesn’t ask, “What does God’s law say?” No, he asks them, “What did Moses command you?” Jesus says Moses wrote this commandment because their hearts were hard. But, Jesus then talks about creation and how God’s plan from the beginning was different.

In Luke, Jesus gets asked similar questions about why he and the disciples are breaking the law. Jesus is also asked about how to inherit eternal life. Jesus asks back, “What is written in the law?” The individual responds with nothing from the 10 commandments or a specific law from Moses but with the two commandments on which Jesus said all the law hangs. Jesus told the man he answered correctly.

John is where it gets really interesting.

John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses.”

Jesus says in John 7:19, “Has not Moses given you the law?”

In John 7:23, Jesus calls it “the law of Moses.”

In John 8:17 and 10:34, when Jesus is speaking with the Jews, he says “in your Law.”

In John 15:25, Jesus says, “in their Law.”

Why is that Jesus never says the law is from God? Why is it that Jesus never calls it God’s law or his Father’s law? Why does he always say “your” law, “their” law, or the law “of Moses?”

If there was any part of the law that was still important for us, then why didn’t Jesus give credit to some, any, part of it to his Father?

Again, there are just questions I’m pondering.

What I do know is that Jesus has freed us from the law so that we can enter the law of the Spirit of life in order that we can bear fruit for God.

Psalm 119 – Read by Replacing Word, Law, Rules, etc. with Jesus

Psalm 119 is well known as it is the psalm about God’s law and God’s word. Like the other psalms, I can and do read it as Jesus praying to the Father. Read in this way it gives us a beautiful picture of how Jesus Christ was able to do God’s will at all times.

But, there’s another way to read this psalm. For, what is God’s law? What is God’s word?

One understanding of the Hebrew for law is “the entire body of prophetic teaching.” In Romans 10:4, the ESV says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” What does “end” mean? That it’s over, done? Hardly, in one sense at least. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” So, “Christ is the end of the law” means he is the fulfillment of it. Other translations of Romans 10:4 say that  “Christ is the culmination of the law” or “the Messiah is the consummation of the written law for righteousness.” When we are talking about the law, we are talking about Jesus.

Today, we get confused that God’s word is the Bible. It is not. God’s word is Jesus Christ. John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Was the Bible in the beginning with God? No, but Jesus was. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled] amongst us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Note how the Word is talked about as a person, using the personal pronoun he. In fact, the whole New Testament makes it clear that Jesus is the word of God and not the Bible or the scriptures.

I write all of this to say that this morning I read Psalm 119 in a different way than I have before. I replace every mention of the law, rules, precepts, commandments, etc. and the word with Jesus. Wow! Let me give you an example below, starting at the beginning of the psalm.

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in Jesus! Blessed are those who keep Jesus, who seek Jesus with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in Jesus! You commanded Jesus be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping Jesus! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on Jesus. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn Jesus. I will keep Jesus; do not utterly forsake me.”

Do that all the way through and see how great, how important, how magnificent, how wonderful, how marvelous, how glorious is Jesus Christ!