A Loving Delight in the Law

Pentecost 16 Monday

Psalm 1:1-2

“Blessed be the man who does not walk in the counsel of the godless, walks the way of the sinners, or sits where the mockers sit but his will is in the law of the Lord and he shall meditate on his law by day and night.”

First of all, the law of the Lord must be distinguished most thoroughly and most carefully from the law of any man. Most diligently you must beware lest you throw both kinds of laws onto one big confused pile which would cause your destruction, as this is done by the teachers of destruction who either turn the law of God into human statutes or turn human statutes into a law of God…”Will” here does not mean the ability nor some sleepy habit which more recent theologians have read into the Bible from Aristotle in order to overthrow the understanding of Scripture. Will also does not mean an act produced by ability and habit. All of human nature does not have this will, but it must come from heaven. For since human nature is inclined and prepared to what is evil, as God’s Word says in Genesis 8:21, while the law of the Lord is good, holy, and righteous, Romans 7:12, it follows that the will of man is inimical to the law, hates the law, flees the law, Romans 8:7-8. Although a person might, at times, outwardly pretend to love the law out of fear of punishment or because he desires what the law promises those who keep it, there always remains inwardly this hatred of the law. Without seeking to derive some benefit from it, he cannot love the law. For he does not love the law because it is good but because it is beneficial to him. Instead, the “will” the psalm speaks of is the pure delight of the heart and pleasure in the law. This will does not seek what the law promises; it does not fear what the law threatens. Instead, it only seeks that the law is holy, righteous, and good. Thus, it is not only the love of the law, but also a loving delight in the law, which the world and the prince of this world cannot take away or overcome by any prosperity or adversity. Rather, it victoriously tears through deprivation, shame, cross, death, and hell; for in adversity it shows itself most gloriously. Yet this will is a fruit of faith in God through Jesus Christ. Contrariwise, the will which is extorted by the fear of punishment is a servile and coerced will, while the will which comes about by seeking rewards is that of a hireling and hypocrite. Yet the will produced by faith is free, does not seek rewards, is joyful. This is why Christ’s people is called “the volunteers,” “the willing,” “the free,” Psalm 110:3.

St. Louis ed., 4:230-232.

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