Urgently Need a Delight in the Law

Pentecost 16 Saturday

Psalm 1:1-3

“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 delights in the law of the Lord and talks about his law by day and night. He is like a tree planted by the rivers who produces his fruit in due season; and his leaves do not wilt, and everything he does prospers.”

Finally, let us consider what the most renowned fathers taught, especially Athanasius and Augustine, namely, that we are to conform the state of our mind to the meaning of the psalms. For the psalms are only a kind of school and training ground for the attitudes of the heart; accordingly, only he sings the psalms without fear who does not sing them in the spirit. E.g., when you read, “Blessed is he who does not walk in the counsel of the godless,” your heart must at once be moved, cursing the counsel of godlessness, not only for yourself but also for the entire church. Likewise in the case of the
way of the sinners and the pernicious doctrine. For by this fire–love’s affect–must be burned all heretics and all those who have a godless mind and teach godlessly. Since we despised this fire, God has given us over to a perverted mind, Romans 1:28, so that we became hangmen who burned heretics, and were burned as heretics, with natural fire. Likewise, when you say, “But delights in the law of the Lord,” you should not do so while spiritually asleep; you should not congratulate yourself, as if you already were someone who loves the law of God. Rather, offer your sighs with as much wholehearted fervor as you can to him who alone has come to cast fire on the earth, Luke 12:49. As long as you live on earth, do not ever consider yourself to be the kind of person who loves the law of God already; always consider yourself to be the kind of person who urgently needs this delight in the law. Likewise when you hear that “everything he does prospers,” you must wish this for yourself and sigh for all those who find themselves in some kind of adversity. Likewise, when you hear that “his leaves do not wilt,” you must wish that the pure Word of God may flourish in Christ’s church and all human fables and dreams be rejected. Now, when you see any of this take place, consider yourself blessed and rejoice, giving thanks to God for his goodness. Do not believe that something impossible is asked of you; only give it a try. I know that you will be glad and grateful. At first, begin with one psalm or even just with one short verse of a psalm. You have
accomplished enough when you have learned in a day or week to give life and breath to a single verse in your heart.

St. Louis ed., 4:251-252

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