Talked about Psalm 119 in girls’ class last night. I didn’t realize we don’t know who wrote it. Among the possibilities: David (of course) and Ezra. My ears perked up at Ezra.
Mary Phillips taught, and she pointed out that the writer of 119 is infatuated with law—not the stories of the Bible or the poetry—the law. This seems weird to us. I mean, how do you say stuff like this and really mean it:
"Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”
"I rejoice in following your statutes.” “I delight in your decrees”—Really?
I love God and I want to do whatever He tells me to do, but I wouldn’t say I “delight” in exercising self control or being honest when it’s inconvenient. And for the writer of 119, “the law” is even more difficult to keep. He’s talking Leviticus stuff. This guy’s saying, “I delight in not sowing two kinds of seed in my field.”
And that’s not a metaphor.
And he’s delighting in it.
Knowing this could be Ezra really helps me understand this. In Nehemiah 8, Ezra reads the law to the people of Israel, people who’ve been living broken lives, the remnants of a once strong and vibrant, now exiled nation. These people don’t know the law—but they’re starving for it. When they hear it, they weep.
Imagine living in chaos—not knowing what to do, where to turn—every decision based on insufficient information. That’s Ezra’s life before he finds this law. And when he finds it, all of a sudden he has something to hold onto, a way to center himself. He has a plan and a guide—a system for understanding life. The law brings order to Ezra’s life. And peace.
I don’t usually think of it this way, but God’s Law does bring me peace. I look around at friends who’re living without God and I see all kinds of turmoil and strife and messiness.
I think about kids who’ve grown up in homes with no rules—how sad and angry they are. And I think about how content kids can be when they’re given limits.
My mom would be shocked to hear me say it, but rules really are good for us. They were good for Israel, and they’re good for me.
Today I’m rejoicing in following God’s statutes.