Delight or Duty?
Dr. Robert Courtney
But his delight is in the law of the LORD
And in His law he meditates day and night.
This verse in Psalm One has always been a favorite of mine. Literally, it is my delight to share it with you.
There are so many things that we do out of duty. House payments are duties, not delights. I can mention a multitude of things that fit in with that statement. “Duty” we know well. Let me ask you if you consider reading God’s Word a duty?
Years ago, D.L. Moody stated, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible”. I do not know how you take that quote. For some of you, it will be simply acknowledged as reality and you will be glad that you are one who reads the Bible on a regular basis. Yet, for others, it may prick their conscience. It may strike them as a yellow light on their car’s instrument panel. They know that their Bible reading practices are lacking consistency. They have made it their nightly resolution that tomorrow will be different. Yet, the longer they have wrestled with it, the more it has become a ‘duty’ to them.
The previous description probably felt better with me using the pronouns “They”, “them”, and “their” rather than “you” and “your”. I think you know better which pronoun to insert. And, quite honestly, if you are uncomfortable with it, you are probably looking at the reading of God’s Word as ‘duty’ rather than ‘delight’.
The word ‘delight’ goes with ‘desire’. The Hebrew word, “chêphets” speaks of a thing of pleasure, desire and value. It is an appropriate word to show the willingness of the Blessed Man to take the time to know God’s Word. His pleasure is in the Law of the Lord. His desire is in the Law of the Lord. He finds value in the Law of the Lord. Not one of these definitions are remotely related to “His duty is in the Law of the Lord”.
As a pastor, I have learned how to push the motivation button “duty”. I can produce verse after verse from the very same Law of the Lord to show our duty related to it. But, I do not aim at your will here – just your heart. The Psalmist is expressing his heart and the actions that such a desire brings. In the Law he will meditate day and night. I picture someone who cannot get enough of the Word. He must have a double daily portion. Imagine the value of it! His first thoughts in the morning are God’s Word. His last thoughts of the day are God’s Word.
Spurgeon wrote, “He delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he muses upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. “The law of the Lord” is the daily bread of the true believer.” (The Treasury of David, Psalm 1)
I feel the urge to press the duty to delight in God’s Word….. but I shall not. Just take a minute to ask yourself if God’s Word is your duty or your delight.
Comments or questions? Write Dr. Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org