This past spring I began to realize just how valuable scripture memorization is, and I understood that those years of memorizing in AWANA weren’t just for gaining a basic understanding of the Word of God- although it certainly gave me that at a young age, and I’m so thankful for it. I learned that memorizing can help me understand the Word much more deeply, and even helps me love it more.
I started memorizing Psalm 119, and while I’m sorry to report I haven’t kept it up since the spring, I want to pick it back up again. While I was meditating on those verses, I was struck over and over by how much David loved God’s commands, how sweet the statutes of the Lord were to him. I love the Word, but I can’t say that the laws have ever been my favorite part. I was curious to see if I could figure out why exactly David would say that.
I’m going (very slowly) through a one-year plan in my Bible reading, and I’m very behind, so the other day I got impatient and skipped ahead to Deuteronomy. I had to see for myself what certain family members of mine love about the book, since it’s been a while for me.
I turned to Deuteronomy 6 and 7, and quickly began to understand both why my family loves it and why David says what he does about the law of God. God Himself makes it clear:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…
When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statues and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ Then you shall say to your son, ‘We were pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land he swore to our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before our God, as he has commanded us.”
And He didn’t leave it at that:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares that Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign and execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.'” (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
So not only does He command these things for our good always, that we might love Him (also for our good always), but He promises to be our righteousness. And fulfills that promise:
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:30-31)
And just like that, these commands become sweet to my mouth, sweeter than honey to my lips. Do these things, He urges, because they are life to you. Fear me, and I will be your righteousness- I will be life you you.
Matt Chandler made the same point in part 3 of his Colossians series. He was saying that God didn’t make up commandments to restrict us or withhold from us, but to give to us. He tells us how life is, like He’s clueing us in to what we would otherwise have to figure out. “Do this, and it will be life to you.”