Thursday, January 6, 2011

Living By Every Word That Proceeds From the Mouth of God - Part 10

The Davidic Example as an Antidote to Boshoff’s Disapproval of Scripture

(This is part ten in a series that examines the view of Justice Boshoff who advocates that God’s word comes to us personally and directly from the Holy Spirit through prayer for wisdom and that the scriptures are a hindrance to hearing the word of God. You can read a transcript of two of his You-Tube videos: According to the Scriptures, You Won't Make It and Breaking Through the Bible Barrier.)

Psalm 1:1, 2 (Counsel and the Law of the Lord)

David rejects the advice and wisdom of the ungodly man. His point of view is that the ungodly man's wisdom is contrary to the Law of God and therefore contrary to God's revealed will.

For David, advice and wisdom come through the Law of God, the scriptures of his day. True and acceptable wisdom in the eyes of God is the wisdom that he imparts (as opposed to the counsel of ungodly men), and the source of that wisdom is the Law of the Lord.

If David had in mind a singular work known as 'The Law,' we may surmise that work to be Deuteronomy, commonly called ‘The Book of the Law.’ [1] More broadly, given a conservative view, the scriptures of David's day was the Pentateuch (Genesis - Deuteronomy), Joshua, Judges, and possibly Ruth; Job is also a likely candidate since it may be the oldest book of the Bible.

The appellation of ‘The Law’ used by Jesus probably is a reference to the Pentateuchal writings, but at the least, it refers to Deuteronomy. But that it refers to more than a single volume is discernable in Jesus's use of the formula, ‘The Law and the Prophets,’ in which he distinguished the Old Testament prophets (major and minor) from ‘The Law.’ This suggests that ‘The Law’ was a collection of sacred writings in the same manner as the prophetic books.

If ‘The Law’ is such a collection, it refers not to just the ten commandments per se, but also the history leading up to their official codification as well as the history that followed, i. e., the recorded history of the Pentateuch. That history provides the redemptive historical context of the ten commandments. The relevant point for our discussion is this:

David understood that the Pentateuchal record of the application of the ten commandments in the early history of redemption were beneficial to him as well and served as instructive in his day.

In Psalm 119 David uses a variety of terms to identify what it is that he delights in and meditates on; they are God's word, testimonies, commandments, statutes, law, rules, precepts, wondrous works (in redemptive history) all of which were in the scriptures of his day. These scriptures in which David delighted and on which he meditated included God's dealings with mankind in particular situations at various points in redemptive history. David meditated on the record of that history of an earlier time and saw in it instruction and guidance. He did not think it was irrelevant to his day or his situation.

Psalm 1:2 (The Relevance of the Law for David)

Those who say that the scriptures are a barrier to understanding God's will should think on Psalm 1. Meditation on God's word/law is the Davidic example. David testifies to the profitability of the scriptures to make the simple wise, to enlighten the eyes, rejoice the heart; the judgments of the Lord are more desirable than fine gold and sweeter than honey (Ps 19:7-10). David tells others of God’s marvelous works (Ps 9:1; 26:7; 66:3, 5; Ps 71:17; 73:28; 77:11, 12) which are recorded in his scriptures. In Psalm 119, David tirelessly exalts the virtues of God’s Law, bemoaning the transgression of it (119:136), hiding it in his heart that he might not violate it (119:11), acknowledging the need for God’s help to keep it (119:33-38, 125), thankful for affliction because it brought him back to it (119:67, 71, 75, 92, 143); becoming wiser than teachers and sages (119:99, 100).

Psalm 78, a contemplation of Asaph, suggests that the wondrous works that David proclaimed to others were those that God performed in Israel’s midst as recorded in the Pentateuch.[2] Even if the works David had in mind were those recent victories over Israel’s enemies, battles in which he himself participated, he understands the significance of those victories only in the light of the historical word of God written before his day, in particular, the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. David relied upon the relevance of the scriptures for his day.

Psalm 1:2 (Delighting in the Law of the Lord)

David delighted in God’s Law and continually meditated on it (Ps 119:5, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148). David also meditated on God’s wondrous works and his majesty (Ps 63:6; 77:12; 143:5; 145:5) which were revealed to him through the scriptures of his day. If the written word of God was not applicable to his situation, why did he hold it in such high regard? Why did he devote so much time and effort in meditation on them?

The Davidic example does not suggest to any degree that the inspired writings of his day were obsolete, irrelevant, inappropriate, or a barrier to spiritual wisdom and knowledge.

[1] The Book of the Law is amply documented in the Old Testament (Deut 17:18; 28:58, 61; 29:21; 30:10; 31:24, 26; Josh 8:31, 34; 23:6; 2 Kings 14:6; 22:8, 11; 23:24; 2 Chron 17:9; 25:4; 34:14, 15; Nehemiah 8:1, 3, 8, 18; 9:3) and there is no reason to think that David did not have it in his day. The Lord charges Joshua: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. David followed Joshua’s example to meditate on the Law of God. The Book of the Law was probably a reference to Deuteronomy (Paul cites Deuteronomy in Gal 3:10 and refers to the source as ‘The book of the law’), and its biblically documented existence argues in favor of rather than against the existence of other Pentateuchal books in David’s time.

[2] In Ps 78, Asaph reflects on not only God’s redemptive acts in bringing Israel out of Egypt, but also on the rebellion of Israel during that time. This reflection was intended to be instructive to the Israel of his day. He did this in accordance with the Deuteronomic charge to teach the children and their descendants so that they may never forget God’s great redemptive acts (Ps 78:5, 6; Deut 4:9; 6:20, 21). Asaph not only contemplated God’s great works in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, but also pointedly mentions the constant rebellion of Israel in spite of God’s mighty works; certainly, Asaph was concerned about the Israel of his day, that the people would not likewise fall into the same sins. A principle we may take from this is that the scriptures of an earlier day are applicable to a situation of a later day.

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