It’s the Thought that counts ‘Love Fulfills the Law’4|8|2020
The Following thought for the day was written by Brother Richard Morgan and provides insight and encouragement for those seeking to serve the God of Israel.
It’s easy to see how 2 Samuel 22 applies to the Lord Jesus Christ. The historical background of the chapter, which is almost word for word the same as Psalm 18, says “And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” (v1). What David encountered when facing his enemies is what Jesus met, through his ministry with the scribes, Pharisees and chief priests, and finally on the cross and his subsequent resurrection, in which he defeated the greatest enemy of all, death. If you read through the chapter, you’ll be able to see echoes in the first half with Christ’s death, and in the second half with his resurrection.
Seeing 2 Samuel 22 as a messianic psalm means what it says in verses 21-25 shouldn’t surprise us. For instance, in verse 21, it says, “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.” Jesus was righteous, and he “kept the ways of the Lord” (v22). Jesus could also claim he had “not wickedly departed from my God.” (v22). Jesus was sinless, and verse 23 sums it up – “For all his rules were before me, and from his statutes I did not turn aside.” The next verse says the same thing in different words – “I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt.” (v24) and verse 25 is a repeat of verse 21 (forming, in this section, a chiasmus.)
The passage teaches us that Jesus defeated the enemy of sin. It’s therefore easy to move on from these verses and think they can’t possibly apply to us. We’ve recently read in Romans, “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). We’re not good at keeping God’s ways, we wickedly depart from Him, breaking His rules and statutes, we’re not blameless, and we are guilty. When we look at this passage, it’s clear we’re the complete opposite!
When we think about God’s righteousness, summed up in the rules and statutes contained in the principles governing the Law of Moses, we have a hard time fathoming how we could live up to the example of Christ.
However, let’s look at what David said here from another angle using another of today’s readings, Romans 13. There Paul tells us, “the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (v8). He then lists some of the commandments, sums them up by saying they are all fulfilled when we love our neighbors as ourselves (v9) and finishes it off by saying, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (v10).
It seems too simple. All the rules and statutes found throughout Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy summed up by love. But you only have to think about it for a few moments to see how right Paul was. If I love my neighbor, I am not going to do things like stealing his property or lie about him. If you owned a slave in Bible times and loved your slaves, you would treat them according to the principles of slavery outlined in the Law. Think of it this way round: let’s say you had a slave and didn’t love him but still kept yourself within the bounds of the laws of slavery. Would you have fulfilled the law? According to Paul, in Romans 13, no.
And perhaps that’s our problem. We get so fixated on the letter of the law that we miss its point and fail to fulfill it because we aren’t concentrating on the spirit behind it – to love one another.
It is true that we can’t keep that section in 2 Samuel 22 perfectly. Sometimes we don’t love our neighbor. But by concentrating on love, on how we treat one another, we can see beyond the difficulties of obeying hundreds of commandments and stand before Christ with a good conscience that we have followed his example. After all, the psalmist says in the next verse, “With the merciful you show yourself merciful” (v26). That’s what God looks for in His children, those who treat them in the way He treats us. If we do that, we fulfill the law. Maybe not its letter, but that doesn’t matter; it’s the spirit that counts.
Simi Hills, CA
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View all the thoughts in this series here…