The next verse, like the last one, is a bullet point to verse 9: “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.” We’ve already discussed that His Word is more valuable than all the gold in the world, and is sweeter than the drippings of the honeycomb. But now we get to the gist of why His Word is so valuable and is so sweet, IF we feast upon His Word and commune with Him.
“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether…Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.” (vv 9, 11) David wrote from personal experience as God’s servant. He credited the Lord’s law, God’s Word, with warning him against danger.
God didn’t give us His Word to deprive us of enjoyment but to keep us from what would harm us. God warned Israel not to enter into an agreement with the Canaanites and their gods. He knew doing so would snare them into sinning against Him. They would be trapped into serving the Canaanites’ false gods (Ex 23:23–33).
Sin sets a snare for believers (Ps 119:110) but the Scriptures teach us how to avoid its snare. “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:25) God’s Word offers great reward for obedience. Peace and security are two of those rewards. “Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble.” (Ps 119:165)
Another reward is the crown Paul said awaited him at the end of his life. He wrote: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim 4:7–8)
The rewards that are promised will belong to His true followers. God’s desire for all who know Him is for us to become more like Christ. We do this by first growing in our knowledge of Christ, because we can’t grow to be like someone we don’t know. The deeper our knowledge of Christ, the deeper our understanding of Him, and the more like Him we become, so that “I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:10).
Among other reasons, we are to know and understand Christ so that we will be secure in the faith. “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Pet 3:17-18)
Of course, knowledge alone won’t produce Christlike character unless the knowledge we gain from God’s Word impacts our hearts, convicts us of the need to obey what we have learned, and we humbly submit to what His Word tells us to do. The process of filling our minds with the knowledge of God not only brings us closer to Christlikeness, but obedience to that knowledge aligns us with the perfect will of God. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:1-2)
The natural consequence of knowing and obeying God is that He becomes greater and greater, while we become less and less as we yield control of our lives to Him, so that we grow to reflect more of Christ and less of our own sinful nature. This is the process of sanctification. Luke sums it up best when he describes what Jesus told His disciples: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
Jesus encourages us to take up our cross (the instrument of death) in order to put to death our old sin nature upon it. God wants us to forget about this world and all its temporary pleasures and be obedient to His Word. So how do we know if we are truly followers of Christ instead of deceived, “superficial” Christians? “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jn 2:3) Jesus is the living Word (John 1:1), and the Bible is God’s written Word. Therefore, conforming to the Word of God is conforming to Christ.
I sit here in wonder of all the ways in which the Lord has looked out for me all my life, keeping me from things in this life I thought I wanted or even needed. But the Lord already knows what we truly need (Matt 6:8), and won’t give us less than is best for us. Thank You, Lord, for Your wisdom and not leaving me to my own. Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of what is truly important in this life–to submit myself to Your Word and be obedient to it. “The wicked earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.” (Prov 11:18)