Are God's Commands 'Sweeter than Honey' to You?
Many of us are not used to thinking of God's commandments---and Scripture in general---as "sweeter than honey," something that is delicious. Even if we can reckon with the idea of loving God's law, we may have trouble figuring out how not to think of it in the context of a religious duty or a "chore chart" (something followed but not particularly enjoyed in my home!). But the psalms speak of God's children delighting in God's law. How in the world do we get to that perspective?
We find God's commands delightful and his instruction tasty like honey by moving beyond what God requires of us and seeing what he has accomplished himself. God himself is the hero of God's story, and as it pertains to his desire to be known, he bridges the communication gap we cannot span ourselves. He does this first by speaking into the shadows of general revelation in the special revelation of Scripture. He does this savingly by speaking in the special revelation of Scripture the great announcement of the gospel of Jesus.
The point of special revelation, then, is to reveal the gospel. God's written Word points to Jesus, the Living Word. After Jesus was raised from the dead, he caught up with a couple of disciples making a trek to Emmaus. He sidled up alongside them and preached the greatest Christ-centered, expository sermon from the Old Testament ever preached in the history of the world. "The point of all that," Jesus essentially said, pointing to the varied wonders of what we call the Old Testament, "is me."
As Jesus claimed implicitly and explicitly throughout his earthly ministry that he is the true Messiah long awaited by the people of God, he was asserting himself as the culmination of human history.
First and Last Gospel
We can see the light of Christ in the shadow of the "first gospel" in one of the Bible's earliest stories, when God curses the serpent in Genesis 3:15. Here is a foreshadow of the saving cross of Christ, where simultaneously Jesus' heel was struck in crucifixion and he was victorious over sin and death, crushing the head of evil with his pierced feet.
We see the light of Christ in the shadow of the Old Testament's "last gospel," when Malachi 4 predicts the Day of the Lord. Who brings both wrath and redemption? Who is elsewhere referred to as the sun (Rev. 21:23)? Who is said to arrive on this Day of the Lord (Acts 2:17-24; 1 Thess. 5:1-10)? Who alone can do a supernatural work of reconciliation?
The answer is ever and always Jesus. His footprints are throughout the sand of the Old Testament. And the further light of the New Testament helps us see him most clearly, from his incarnation to his glorification. All of the stories the Bible tells tell the unified story of how God glorifies himself through the redemption of sinners made right with him through the saving work of his Son, Jesus Christ.
But the Bible is not a story in the same way a novel is a story. It is a story in the sense that throughout all its genres and revelations, the overarching theme or message being communicated is that God saves sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Coming back to Psalm 19 and the delicious honey we find in God's commands, knowing the "big story" running through and connecting all the words of the Bible, we can see how we might move from duty to delight. When we receive the illumination of Jesus Christ, our eyes light up with the grace of God found in him who is the radiance of the Father's glory (Heb. 1:3). When we receive Jesus as the Bread of life, we will taste and see that God is good. And when we are set free from our sins and the curse of the law's demands, we are finally free to obey God with joy and gratitude, delighting in his law rather than buckling under its weight.
Psalm 19:11 tells us there is "great reward" in keeping God's commands. We can't do that. But Jesus can and did. And there is great reward in Christ's righteousness for all who will repent of their sin, trust in his work, and thereby receive his goodness credited to their account.
This is an excerpt from The Gospel Project for Adults Bible Study from LifeWay. The Gospel Project is an ongoing 13-week Bible study curriculum for all age groups that helps people see Scripture as one over-arching story that points to what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Find out more and download one month to review free at www.gospelproject.com.