Thoughts for the Day

Thursday, 4th July 2024: The Law of the Lord

Commandments Law Psalm 19 Law of Moses

Reading : Verses from Psalm 19

Ten commandments

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


We usually look at the first six verses of Psalm 19 for its eulogy on the heavens, for it starts "The heavens are telling the glory of God", but our lectionary today offers it as the Psalm for the daily Eucharist (Communion Service) with only verses 7-10 being used, and it has a totally different feel. It's so different that we might wonder if it's meant to be a separate psalm, or whether it should be part of Psalm 119, with its many different ways of saying "Law", eg "precepts", "commands" etc.

The author, David, however, links the two themes together. For him whatever comes from God is perfect whether they are the physical laws of the universe or the moral laws that He has put in place. The Law itself, and by this he means the Law of Moses is holy, and just, and good. The Law is pure, that is, it's not the commands of a dictator, but rather the gracious intimation of what God wants us to do for our own good. The Law is perfect in that it's stable and doesn't shift and change like our human reason, where we change laws to suit ourselves. It's also to be more desired than wealth which can be fleeting (as can honey), since it brings far greater good to men and women - stable relationships and harmony between peoples - at the least.

Having sat in many old churches where on one side of the chancel arch were written the Ten Commandments, and on the other the Lord's Prayer (or sometimes the Creed), I can say I have truly meditated on the Law. The Law is perfect for whatever comes from God is perfect! Unfortunately we humans are not perfect and we constantly break the Law. It's not the fault of the Law, but of us who cannot keep it. It took Jesus Christ to change this and offer us salvation.


Heavenly Father,
may we come to You today
fully recognising that just as there
are natural laws that control nature
and our world,
so there are moral laws that keep
our societies safe.
However, may we also recognise
that we frequently break them,
often for totally selfish reasons.
Help us to be honest with ourselves
and see our mistakes,
putting them right where possible.

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