Ten Words of a Good Life

How do you think about the law of God? Jerram Barrs, in his outstanding book, Delighting in the Law of the Lord, notes the low view people often take when considering the law of the Lord. In this series we will challenge these positions by looking both to the eternal Word of God as well as the decaying culture of our day to question the cultural positions. First, though, we are reminded of the beauty of the law in one of David’s prayers, Psalm 25:4-11. In this psalm David sets out his passionate belief that he needs God to teach him through God’s law how he, David, ought to live.

David knows that he needs ‘the LORD’ to show him how to live, for he understands that he is a sinner and that, therefore, he cannot be trusted to know what is right; so he humbles himself to ask the Lord to teach him. The Scriptures teach us that humility before the Lord is essential for each one of us to learn the ways of the Lord. Are we prepared to humble ourselves and ask our heavenly Father to teach us?

David also desires to understand the paths in which the Lord walks, for David knows that there is no one else in the universe whose life is fully characterized by moral goodness. No one, except the Lord himself, lives the truly good life.

A third point to note here is that as soon as David reflects on the character of God, he cannot help but think about his own failure to be like God, his inability to walk steadfastly in the ways of the Lord. Because he realizes his inability and failure, David confesses his guilt. The more clearly he thinks about the character and pattern of the life of the Lord, the greater David’s sin seems to him. For us today, just as with David, any careful study of the law of God is going to have this uncomfortable element of revealing our sin and humbling us. The more we reflect on the ways of the Lord, the more our sins are exposed. So be prepared to see yourself in new and discomfiting ways!

We should also observe that the aspects of God’s character that David focuses on here are the love and gracious mercy of God, for these are central to any meditation on the ways of the Lord. Barrs notes that another way to express this is to think about the great commandments as Jesus summarizes them for us: “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” (Matt. 22:37-40). Barrs then concludes his reflection with this penetrating application:

“Just as with us, so it is with the Lord. The summary of all the law for us, of all the teaching of God’s Word, is that we are to love God and our neighbor. The reason for this is that all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness. He desires that we be like him. David desires that he be like the Lord; he desires all his thoughts, words, and actions be filled with steadfast love and faithfulness. Paul expresses the same idea this way: “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).”

Do we agree with David’s prayer? Do we believe that we need to humble ourselves before God and to ask him to teach us the way he walks, that we ought to desire to know God’s law so well that we will be convicted of our sin and led to confession?

Sermons & Summaries

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