Pauls Footsteps #330

“Lord, give me your unfailing love, the salvation that you promised me.  Then I can answer those who taunt me, for I trust in your word. Do not snatch your word of truth from me, for your regulations are my only hope.  I will keep on obeying your instructions forever and ever.” Psalm 119:41-44 NLT 

Footsteps # 330. Paul spent 3 years in Arabia. It was from here while studying the scriptures (which only consisted of the Old Testament ‘Torah”) that he emerged with his doctrine of justification by faith alone, without the deeds of the law.  When Paul said, “I love the law with all my heart” (v22) we noted yesterday that this sentiment is grounded in many OT passages. Paul would have known Ps119 by heart. It was an acrostic Psalm designed to memorize.  It is a Psalm that displays a spiritual maturity that only a man like Paul could display when he declares his love for the law. 

Psalm 119 is the most beautiful poem on law and grace in the whole Bible. The psalmist (probably Ezra) fluctuates between the observation of grace and the joy of obedience. This Old Testament concept displays the only logical response to God’s declaration of deliverance. E.g. “Because the Lord loves you (Deut. 7:8)…”therefore you shall love the Lord and keep His commandments.” (Deut.7:11) – sounds like John 14:15 where Jesus said, “If you love me keep My commandments.” When Paul said “I love the law with all my heart” he was reiterating sentiments like Psalm 119:97, “Oh, how I love Your Law.” Even the prelude to the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai begins with the words, “Then God gave the people all these instructions]: I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.” (Exod.20:1-2). Deliverance is the justification for obedience. He had previously said in Exod.19:4,5, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” NLT 

The Old Testament word for Law (which is the teaching of the first five books) is Torah, which means ‘to show the way.’ It is interesting that in the book of Acts before the early church were designated Christians, that they were called “The people of the way.” (e.g. Acts 9:2). Remember Jesus had declared Himself to “be The Way, The Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6). 

The keepers of the law are often unfairly accused of being legalists. However, the law, as it was understood by an Israelite, implies a light that helps one’s spiritual walk and promotes progress. The Psalmist compares the law to “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105). This is the lesson contained in the Hebrew word ‘Torah’  which is related to the word meaning ‘light.’ When one is walking on a path by night, the lamp at one’s feet will not only shed light on the way, but it will also drive serpents away. The image of the poet shows the double function of the law: to enlighten, to teach, and therefore to help one to walk forward, and to protect from danger, and to ensure the safety of one on the walk. (c.f. Isa 8:20) 

Paul declared in Romans 7:22 “I love the law with all my heart.” 

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