97 MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
We Confess and Meditate (v. 97) All men talk about the things and people they love. If they love movies or automobiles, they find ways to bring them into the conversation. If a man loves a woman, he speaks adoringly of her, constantly of her. This is the way we are made: what is in the heart manifests itself through our words. So it is with the lover of God’s word. And he does not simply speak of it out of obligation. As we here find David, who has just written of some very low points through which God’s word sustained him, the Christian speaks of God’s word passionately. “O how I love thy law!” It has sustained me in dark valleys of testing and affliction. When all my other vain hopes and loves were dashed to the ground, exposed as so many idols of my heart, there was God’s word at the very bottom of my soul, keeping me from falling, giving me hope in my despair, light in my darkness. I cannot love it enough! Through it, God gives himself to me. I do not require any pressure from others to speak of it. I am not ashamed of it, or of my love for it. I will shout from the housetops that God’s word alone has quickened me, preserved me, and comforted me. I love it for revealing God’s faithfulness and wisdom. I adore it for its beauty and grace. Your thoughts, Lord, are very previous to me, indeed, my most valuable possession. I will give up everything else if necessary, but do not ask me to give up your word. Do not take it away from me. Do not send a famine of your word. Afflict my soul, if I require it. Riddle my body with disease. Take away all my comfort and ease. Do not, I beg you, remove from me your word, for it alone gives me a sense of your familiar, friendly presence, shows your beloved Son to me, and satisfies me. You have created me, Father, to think your thoughts after you, and my existence is nothing but a miserable flight of dust unless you give me your word. These are some of the thoughts and utterances of the lover of God’s word.
Yet, it is not simply God’s word in general that we love. David here speaks of loving God’s law. There is a world of theology wrapped up in this personal confession. As God’s law is his rule for our lives, what we really confess when we love God’s word is that we love to be guided by God’s own hand. We have given up the desire to rule ourselves, live as we please, and find ways to join a hypocritical or half-hearted religious profession with an underlying personal autonomy. No, we have learned, often by very painful experience, that our only joy lies in yielding ourselves to God, to be guided by his hand, to turn from our own thoughts and ways. We can never love for God to lead us unless we also love his gospel. Love of God’s law is the fruit of love of God’s gospel, obedience to God the fruit of receiving the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Humbled by our Savior’s death for us on the cross, in fact, overwhelmed by the thought that he would bear our curse and give his back to the smiters for such wretched sinners, we have no other desire than to “present ourselves to God, as those who are alive from the dead, and our members of instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:13). It is when we feel ourselves bound to God for his saving mercies to us in Jesus Christ that we willingly and cheerfully bind ourselves to be governed and directed by him. And even if we see all the world running headlong to destruction, the would-be-gods of our age celebrating their freedom from God in escapades of rebellion that should horrify rather than titillate us, we love God’s law that much more. It is not, you see, theological narrowness or ethical ignorance that leads us to God’s law as “the eternal rule of a devout and holy life,” as Calvin described it, but love for God, gratitude his goodness and grace to us in our Lord Jesus, and heartfelt adoration of his sovereignty over us and the wisdom of his word.
Thus, it is our meditation “all the day.” To be meditating upon God’s word continually is nothing else than to return to the Garden of delights from which we were expelled because we insisted upon thinking our own thoughts and trampling upon God’s. No one who is an outward professor alone, who lacks the inner humbling before God and joy in the Lord for his goodness, can have this delight in God’s word. He may turn to it to silence a troubled conscience or to be able to tell others that he has been reading this or that, but he has no heart to give himself to God’s word. How can he? The Spirit of God has not yet emblazoned God’s word upon his very inmost being by his own quickening finger. The word of God comes to him with no life. The Bible is a good book, an important book, even a holy book. It is not, however, the book of God, with letters still blazing with the fiery, penetrating wisdom, goodness, and power of God. The child of God, however, requires no guilt to motivate him. He comes to God’s word with a pressing sense of his need. He also approaches it with deep longing. He loves the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ” (Rom. 8:2). God himself is drawing him to its cleansing, refreshing waters. They enter his soul sometimes like a torrent, sometimes like a delightful mountain brook. But enter into his very inmost self they do. He exercises himself upon the word of God, as Luther said, shaking every verse like a branch, waiting for the heavenly fruit to drop as seeds of life and wisdom. Thus, sincere love for God’s word always leads to constant meditation upon it: at home, working outside, in the business cubicle, in relationships, in the town hall. We mine its gem-laden caverns over and over. We find it inexhaustibly rich, immeasurably heavy, luminously heavenly, and comprehensively Christ-centered. We find it to be our life and our love. Do we thus think about God’s word? We do not if we are not reading and memorizing it, praying it and believing it. If only true professors of Christ would so delight in God’s word and give themselves to it, the world would quickly be confronted with a power it could not explain away, a wisdom it could not refute, a loveliness it could not foul, a loyalty it could not compromise. It would find true believers, armed with the very sword of the Spirit, made fruitful by God’s life-giving word, made beautiful by the constant influences that time spent meditating upon God’s word necessarily exerts upon those who live in the abiding presence of God’s word, written in Scripture, living in Jesus Christ, and sanctifying in the Holy Spirit. Since these promises are infallibly held out to us if we delight in God’s word and meditate upon it, would we be robbed: by thinking the world’s thoughts, bringing ourselves under the influence of unbelievers, or simply content with our own narrow, selfish thoughts? May it never be!
We Are Wise and Meditate (vv. 98-100)
When the apostle wrote that “God has made foolish the wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 1:20), he did not mean that all unbelievers are idiots or that believers are smarter than unbelievers. He did not mean to imply that reading unbelieving philosophy, history, or science is a waste of time. Something far deeper is intended. At the cross, God exposed the utter folly of all human wisdom, however articulate or enlightened, for all wisdom that is not built upon God’s word cannot lead us one inch toward the knowledge of God, which is the purpose of our creation. At the cross, God showed all men that sin and rebellion, not ignorance, are the bane of the human soul. He made clear that the only path of our recovery is through the propitiatory sacrifice of his Son, that our true and only wisdom is to die to ourselves, loathe our sins, and embrace to the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. Then, other pursuits are recovered, though not as ends in themselves or fields in which men can achieve understanding by their own wisdom. They are useful only insofar as they illumine to us the glory of God – his majestic greatness, sovereignty, and wisdom – and lead us to him as our good. Thus, since fallen man does not pursue this course if left to himself, but goes from bad to worse (2 Tim. 3:13), only through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is man emptied of all trust in his own wisdom and strength, brought low before the throne of the holy God, and then raised in Jesus Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit in order to serve God. We must be persuaded of the foundational foolishness of unbelieving men and unbelieving thought, or we shall mistake David’s meaning here. Rather than further humbling us that we might continually drink from the river of God’s delightful word, we shall dismiss unbelieving thought out of hand, turn arrogant, and be unable to receive the comfort these words afford to every believing soul, however humble.
We have to do with many enemies in this life. We may not feel their presence directly, especially in the very atomistic and self-referential existence led by most Westerners. Nevertheless, the world is filled with those who hate God and his people. At the top of this miserable pyramid are Satan and his cabal. Those whom we might recognize as more earthly and nearby enemies – anti-Christian political leaders, educators, false prophets and apostate denominations, atheists and blasphemers, including those in our neighborhoods, and the usually despicable actor-celebrity class, are really animated by the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2). They are very clever in their own sphere, accumulate various arguments to support their particular agendas, and rarely reveal their governing principles, for Satan prefers to mask his blackness with a façade of light (2 Cor. 11:4). How can we fight such forces? Many insist that we must beat them at their own game, using their strategies, institutions, and systems in order to gain supremacy over them. David says otherwise. God’s commandments “make us wiser than our enemies” (v. 98). “Wiser” does not always equate with “smarter.” As God’s commandments are “ever with us,” as we depend upon them, look to them as our light, pray God to direct us through them, we shall not only survive the attacks of our enemies but turn them back. God’s enemies and ours may not be silenced; they will not admit defeat, any more than Satan, even though the cross of our Lord has crushed his hideous skull. But with God’s word as our guide, we shall not be ignorant of Satan’s unfolding strategies (2 Cor. 2:11). The more we know the truth, the easier it shall be to spot evil, even evil hiding as good. This applies to all areas of the conflict, from the believer wading through the media choices that daily present themselves to the statesman laboring to stand for principle when surrounded with the schemes of unbelieving man. This is our wisdom: to “choose the way of truth” and “stick to God’s testimonies” (Ps. 119:30,31). We learn this only by having God’s commandments ever before us, never swerving from them, seeking constant direction from them, and asking for the wisdom he has promised (James 1:5). Then, we shall be wiser than our enemies. With God’s word as our guide and shield, we shall see through their plots and escape them (Prov. 13:14). We shall be able to “cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5). God will teach our hands to fight in his war (Ps. 144:1).
That God’s word gives us more wisdom than all our teachers (v. 99) may seem like an arrogant claim, like the one who has read a little but claims to know all. David, however, is simply recognizing that meditating upon God’s testimonies gives comprehension beyond the ability of any merely human teacher. This did not mean that David made “all A’s” in school, though all students will improve their intellectual capacity by a steady, consecrated diet of Scripture meditation. Rather, he is extolling the far superior understanding that Scripture gives – of every subject. For example, the young pupil who sees God’s beautiful handiwork in the butterfly has far greater wisdom than the man who understands the mechanisms of its flight and phases of its existence but is not thereby led to give glory to God. Understanding the “what” of any subject is far beneath the “why” and “who.” God’s word alone gives this wisdom, and it does so in every legitimate pursuit by leading us by the hand to God as all our good. This little verse also preserves us from treating God’s word as something of a private talisman or portal of hidden knowledge. It is and does no such thing. It gives concrete understanding, superior understanding in the real world of philosophy and science, political theory and human psychology. Thus, if we would be master craftsmen, useful teachers, intelligent farmers, and skilled businessmen, God’s word alone shows us the way. It gives wisdom in each of these areas that none of the children of this world can know. When will we learn to approach God’s word with a heart that says: “I need God’s word not only as my morning inspiration but as my moment-by-moment guide?” Humbled, word-filled believers would rise to places of true and lasting influence, not due to any intrinsic wisdom in them but because God’s word is “more foolish” than all the wisdom of man (1 Cor. 1:25). It cannot be overcome, refuted, defeated. If it will bring you to heaven, it will certainly cause you to triumph on earth. This will be our blessing only if we constantly meditate upon God’s testimonies and learn to feel deeply our constant need of God’s wisdom. Will you heed this call today – to give yourselves to God’s word? You are only wise if you come to God’s word as a humble student, asking God himself to be your teacher. He will hear and grant your desire, for our Savior purchased this privilege for us with his own blood (John 6:45).
Until recently, men tended to venerate opinions that could claim antiquity. If a theory or system was put forward by a reputed scholar or philosopher of the past, lineage and duration combined to give strong respect. David, however, recognizes that antiquity alone is no test of truth. Men can be wrong for a long time. The only lasting wisdom is God’s word. It is the benchmark against which all theories, old and new, must be tested. Notice that David’s claim to “understand more than the ancients” (v. 100) is because he “kept God’s testimonies.” It is insufficient to confess God’s word without practicing it. More deeply, God illumines the obedient. This is the ethical side of knowledge that most men today deny. There is a direct, spiritual relationship between obeying God’s word and possessing intellectual and moral understanding. To use today’s parlance, it is impossible to separate a man’s private from his public life, his moral from his intellectual life, his spiritual condition from his ability to pursue understanding in any legitimate sphere of human activity. Some city of man dwellers in the past tried to live out their systems, but, like Socrates, they were often persecuted for it. The closer common grace led a man to some shadowy reflection of moral or intellectual truth, even though he was still far from the kingdom of God, the more even that light, dim as it was, led him into conflict with the darkness around him. Most proponents of ethical and philosophical systems, however, and this is especially true since the Enlightenment, were living contradictions, holding to one thing and practicing the complete opposite. This is one fundamental reason that the past two centuries have been marked by such degradation in all philosophical, scientific, political, and moral discourse and practice. Men have said one thing and done another. This disconnect has made what they said ring hollow. It has darkened even what they did say, so that it moved farther, not closer, to the truth. Until we have arrived at the place where the average man treats both ancients and moderns with contempt and suspicion; every man feels himself authorized to determine reality for himself. Yet, if we truly love God’s word, we will seek all our wisdom therein. If we are young, we do not exalt ourselves because we are full of energy or love novelty. If we are old, we resist the tendency toward opinionated arrogance because “we have always thought this way.” When God’s word fills the young man, he overcomes the wicked one. When God’s word humbles the old, he learns of him “who was from the beginning” (1 John 2:12-14), so that he does not stubbornly cling to a particular view simply because he thinks he has some years of experience and reflection behind him. Compared to the “Ancient of Days,” he is but a new born child, naked and needy. Hence, each one of us must be persuaded that the only lasting wisdom is found in God’s word alone. We must set ourselves to keep it, for God shares the “secret of his covenant,” the heavenly wisdom, grace, and love of God, only with those who are led meekly by him (Ps. 25:9,14).
We Guard Against Evil (vv. 101-102)
God’s gift of wisdom to those who love and mediate upon his word does not protect us from having to face and fight off “evil ways.” Even David, whom the Lord had taught from his youth, not only recognized that they were a constant temptation to him but also that he had to resist them. There are many winding paths that lead us away from the narrow road of devotion to God. Some of these present themselves to us more forcibly and attractively. We must “exercise ourselves unto godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7), turn neither to the right nor to the left (Prov. 4:27), and ask our heavenly Father to “enlarge our steps under us that our feet may not slip” (Ps. 18:36). But why must we live with such vigilance? It is so much easier to go through life sound asleep, doing what we want, and allowing life simply to “happen” to us as it will. No, the more we love God’s word, the more it becomes our meditation and delight, the more carefully we will guard our steps. Our consciences become tenderer against sin, even the supposedly small sins that millions indulge with seemingly small hurt, even pleasure. We grow to “abhor evil” in every form (Rom. 12:9), “hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 23). Falling into sin becomes a horror to us, the horror – more than any disease, calamity, or deprivation. When we see such a man as David, as singularly godly and inspired by God’s Spirit as he was, committing such a sin as he did, we realize that indescribable weakness dwells in us, even “no good thing,” as Paul wrote (Rom. 7:18). Were God to leave us to our own devices and deprive us of the influences of his word for the briefest season, we are capable of anything. And do not we recognize that we are always precariously poised on the precipice of rebellion – not because God fails to guard over us with eternal vigilance but because we are so weak in ourselves? This is the reason Scripture’s commands to “be sober, vigilant” and “watch” are never lost upon the lover of God’s word (1 Pet. 5:8; Mark 13:37). Knowing his weakness and feeling his neediness, he watches over his ways. He sees the evil coming, and hides himself (Prov. 22:3). He wants nothing to do with sin. Why is this? Is it because he is feels “holier than thou,” is afraid to have a little pleasure in the world, or is of a melancholy disposition? No, he wants to keep God’s word. His ardent desire is to walk in closer obedience to God – not just enough obedience, especially in lesser things, to keep his conscience quiet, but whole-soul obedience to God (Matt. 23:23). He esteems God’s word as holy, as a treasure. Obeying it is not a burden to him but a pleasure (1 John 5:4). But since we cannot have such desires unless our Lord “enlarges our heart that we might fear his name,” each one of us must seek from him the grace to love his word. We are wholly incapable of guarding our steps and wanting to keep his word. Our hearts are a cesspool of filth. The tickling of the flesh is ever with us. We want to sleep, not watch. Thus, we must seek from the Lord the desire for holiness, a sense of the holiness and beauty of his word. We will run toward what we desire. If our desires are for his word, we will watch, for the longing of our hearts is to keep it and delight in it, thus to walk with God in joyful presence, which is our highest good and pleasure (Ps. 16:11). And since many devious ways constantly present themselves to us, and we find “another law in our members,” what hope have we of keeping from the evil way? David declares that he has “not departed from thy judgments: for thou has taught me.” Our sure hope of preservation from evil is for God himself to take us in hand and make us his pupils. Do not think that some smattering of piety principles will ward off the evil one and keep you in check. All good feelings and intentions burn off like the morning dew. Even a constant diet of good reading and good associations, while necessary and useful, are insufficient to safeguard you from the evil way. God must take us in hand. He must humble our hearts, subduing them to teachableness by his Spirit. He must write his law upon our hearts, so that we know the law not as an external code of conduct, which it is, but as an internal rule of life. Only he can make us honestly say, “O, how I love thy law!” But how can we have God for our teacher? This must be considered the greatest of all possible blessings: to be taught by his precious mouth. Though we forfeited his love and goodness, our Father has in mercy restored us to his fellowship and given his illumination through the only Mediator, Jesus Christ. He alone exegetes, reveals the Father to us (John 1:18). He did this in his own person, work, and teaching, as well as supremely by offering himself for our sins so that we may learn the first lessons of piety: that God is offended and wrathful against all sin and sinners; that his justice against sin and sinners must be satisfied; that this was done once for all through the blood of his Son; that we are redeemed, reconciled, and ransomed only through faith in him. Believing this gospel, we are sealed with the Spirit of holiness and adoption (Eph. 1:13-14). His indwelling presence is the “anointing by which God teaches us all things” (1 John 2:20,27). And how does the Spirit effect this wondrous work of teaching all those who belong to God? He writes God’s law upon our hearts, giving us new natures and impulses to delight in it and keep it. He illumines us so that we may understand the “hope of our calling and the riches of his inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18). He enables us through new eyes to see God’s word for what it is, for what is was all the time, but what we in our stubborn blindness could not see: that it is God’s own precious word and sufficient for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17). To have God for our teacher then, is to have him teach our hard hearts the splendors of his word, reform our inner life and outward conduct by his holy precepts, and make all our delight to consist of walking with him in the fellowship of holiness. Now, as we shall surely stumble unless God is our teacher, every lover of God’s word must earnestly seek this as much as his daily bread. Pray: “Father, unless you take me in hand, with rods, if necessary, to reform me unto yourself, unless you open my blind eyes, unless you corral my wayward spirit, I shall soon go astray. I feel in myself the tugging of the flesh to live as I please and indulge my own sinful desires. In fact, I confess that I sometimes would be my own god, determining good and evil for myself. I hate this; I condemn myself; by your grace, I stand with you in judgment of myself. Now, Father, because you are good, teach this poor sinner in the way (Ps. 25:8; 119:66). Make me meek before you. Hold tightly to me. I love your word, Father, and would cling to it as manna from heaven. Deliver me from making excuses; deliver me from my spiritual slumbers. Shine upon me, Lord Jesus, for you are my only light, driving the darkness from every corner of my soul and shedding your wondrous light within me.” Pray in this way, asking the Lord to help you acutely feel your need for him to be your teacher. Believing that he has joined himself inseparably to his word, commit yourself to meditating upon it. Then, to the temporal preservation and eternal delight of your soul, God himself will be your teacher.
We Find It Sweeter than Honey (v. 103)
But to think, that though God offers himself to us to be our teacher, sending his Son as our Prophet and his Spirit as our Anointing, that he hereby invites us back into the Garden that we might walk and talk with him, in our madness, we run from the words of our God. They become distasteful to us, for they expose our waywardness and convict our consciences of treason against the God who saved us by his grace. Notice how personal this statement is: sweet “to my taste” and “honey to my mouth.” Taste varies widely from person to person: what one thinks delicious is to another unpleasant, even disgusting. To a man, sin has unified our taste buds in revulsion at the words of God’s mouth. Yet, in Christ our Lord, who has cast out the old man of sin from us and given us his own mind (1 Cor. 2:16), our taste buds are restored so that we again love our Father’s voice and want to hear it more than anything else in the world. When he reforms us by his Spirit, we cannot hear God’s words enough. Like the crowds that followed Jesus around Jewry, watching for when he might open his lips again – as new manna from heaven – so we shall feel toward God’s word: written or preached. Yet, since not one of us ever has the perfected taste buds of heaven restored to us in this life, we do well to guard against those things that dull them to God’s word. There are the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches (Mark 4:19). Though our Savior here describes the unbelieving heart, do we not feel our heart languishing away from delight in God’s word when worldliness creeps back into our lives? The love of money similarly dulls us, for it tempts us to set our affections upon the things of this life, which cannot satisfy. God cannot be served if money and possessions are pursued as our highest good. Doubts created by unwise reading of unbelieving thought and regular exposure to the decadent ballads and literature of the city of man have a like effect. Then, if we allow the business of life to consume us so completely that no time or energy is left for delighting in God’s word, we shall soon find our taste for it dwindling. Finally, there is that tendency, even among God’s friends, to value the word of God so lowly that we do not think of it as the very glory of God in our midst. We do this by disconnecting having God for our teacher and having his written Bible, and that even though Paul says that the “word of faith” is the “gospel that we preach” (Rom. 10:8). That is, when we sit down before an open Bible, we are reading God’s own thoughts. They are living and powerful. They will change us right where we are. They will be light to our soul and healing to our bones. They are the balm of Gilead, for they give Jesus Christ to us. They humble us, for they proclaim “Christ, and him crucified” to us. Words fail to describe how sweet and precious the word of God truly is. Those who are taught of God know it, however, and will find it increasingly to be the case in their own lives, even heaven in the soul now. The sweetness of God’s words drives away the clouds of sorrow and guilt, even immediately: when we read or hear afresh of the sufficiency of our Savior’s sacrifice on the cross. The sweetness of God’s word drives away fear and anger: when we read or hear of God’s sovereignty over the affairs of men, that his purposes, not man’s, are being worked out. The sweetness of our Father’s voice sanctifies the character, the tongue, and the thoughts. His sweetness makes us useful in his service, tenderhearted, and like Jesus: “I am among you as he who serves.” Spend your life studying, reading, meditating upon God’s word, believer, and you will “eat unto the joy and rejoicing of your heart” (Jer. 15:16). It is the honey-manna from heaven by which Jesus breaks himself to us as the bread of life.
We Hate the False Way(v. 104)
We shall never know such good unless we separate ourselves from evil. Completely opposite is the thinking of the world. Sow your wild oats, is the common adage, then you can settle down in a peaceable and generally moral life. One even hears the abomination expressed that unless one is exposed to a little evil, then he cannot be well-adjusted. Satan never had better slogans. Was not his first lie on earth the temptation that you cannot really know good and evil unless you taste of evil, unless you trample God’s true ways under foot and launch out on your own? We see where this has gotten us. No, the good is to be found only in God’s word. It is for this reason that we must hate every false way. “Hate” is a strong word. It is opposed to the non-judgmentalism of our age. We have become so relativistic that nothing shocks us. Has any of this made us more inclined toward the good? Of course not; it has made us more tolerant of evil, filled our souls with apathy, and opened the door to unspeakable indulgence that sears consciences, destroys families, and establishes each man as a law unto himself. Reject this whole philosophy, child of God, as brewed in hell and set on fire by the very cunning of Satan. Knowledge of the good is not found in exposure to the bad. It is found in turning away from all evil. Now, it is true that when God draws us back to himself after a season of sin, our afflictions have taught us his righteous judgments (Ps. 119:67,71), but this is not because sin teaches us to love the good. Rather, God’s chastening breaks our hardheartedness and restores us to the paths of righteousness. If we would avoid his bruising judgments, let us learn that sin in every form is the path of misery. Within our own hearts, how this hating of every false way reminds us that our own falseness must be exposed and rooted out. What are commonly called besetting sins are really nothing but deep falseness in us. Can we love God’s word as we should where this falseness is allowed to remain? Must not we pray: “Lord, search me, know my heart, try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23)?
When God puts love for his word in our hearts, when he takes us as his students, we are done hiding. Yes, there is much in us of which we are not aware, but the more we delight in his word and meditate upon it, he shows us our true selves, as well as all the lurking places of our pride, selfishness, and worldliness. We learn to hate the falseness in us. And, as we see here, one of the reasons we abhor all self-deception and falsehood is that they take us further away from God’s precepts. Love for God’s word cannot healthily, vitally coexist with holding on to our old ways. The more we are brought into the light, as he is in the light, the more our depravity is exposed. The more we turn from our sinful, crooked paths. And why? So that we may have more of God’s word, have more understanding through his precepts, delight more in the sweetness of God’s words. Thus, biblical religion has a very strong doctrine of hate. This is because it has a corresponding high doctrine of love: for God’s purity and holiness, for his love and grace, and for his wonderful word. Strong, mature faith, therefore, does not balk at the thought of hating false ways, for it has already applied the scalpel to its own heart. It does not stop there, however, content for the world to wander in its falseness, concluding that men must choose their own way. No, it hates every false path, whether in its own heart or in the world at large. It sees all falseness as an attack against God’s very throne, which is consummate truth, light, and purity. It speaks the truth, exposes the false, and calls the self-deceived into the light. Its reward is more understanding: of God, his word, and his covenant. Let us never forget that fleeing falseness in every form, especially self-deception, its most hideous and damning form, is the only way to obtain understanding, to have God for our teacher, and to confess sincerely: “O, how I love thy law!”