Our puppy is completely ridiculous. We have a fairly large fenced-in yard that allows her plenty of room to run and play, but what is the one thing to which she’s attracted? You guessed it—the gate. See, there’s this little opening between the fence and the gate itself, just big enough for her to squeeze through. Give her a few more months and she won’t be able to fit, but for now she can do it, so she does. It’s not enough that she has the whole yard—she wants to explore what’s beyond that fence. She doesn’t understand that we keep her fenced in for her own safety or that she actually has complete freedom in the yard itself. No, she wants what she can’t have. Silly, isn’t it? Good thing we aren’t that way…
I hate to break it to you, but actually we are a lot like that dog, wishing for what we can’t have. Think way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They had everything—that entire paradise was theirs to explore. God gave them only one stipulation. They weren’t allowed to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. So what did they do? Ate from that one tree. Of all the trees and all the fruit in the garden, that one proved irresistible. When they were tempted, they gave in pretty quickly. And every single one of us would have done the same thing. In fact, we aren’t any different today, are we? God gives us plenty of freedom but we look with longing “beyond the fence” and wish we didn’t have any boundaries. So often, we look at the Ten Commandments as confining and stifling, not realizing that actually God has set them up for our own protection. On second thought, maybe we’re not so unlike that dog after all.
The second half of Psalm 19 shows the benefits and goodness of the Law:
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
See how David here praises the merits of the Law? It’s not a cumbersome, restrictive burden on us. Quite the opposite, in fact. “In keeping them there is great reward,” David says. And in verse 13 he shows how God’s commandments protect us—they warn us against sins so “they may not rule over me.” God knows that in and of ourselves we would naturally allow sin to have dominion over us. We would turn to other gods, use His name in vain, neglect church, dishonor those in authority, murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, and covet. He also knows how negatively those actions would affect us, and in His love He wishes to protect us from ourselves. He gives us the Law to protect us and those around us. Just as my own family keeps our dog in the yard to protect her from cars on the street and from running away and getting lost, so does God set boundaries so we don’t wander off and be lost to Him. Lest you doubt this, remember the words of Psalm 16:6—“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Indeed, because God Himself is our inheritance. His boundaries keep us where we need to be—safe in His keeping, now and to eternity.