As I was reading through this chapter I came to verse 7 which talked about keeping the law. My mind began to wrestle again with this tension in the Bible between the demand for obedience and the primacy of grace. As I continued reading I came to this verse which gave a different angle and added fuel to my fire. By the time I finished the chapter this was still on my mind.
On the surface keeping the law and turning away seem to simply be opposites but not only are they different in polarity they are also different in heart desire. What is the place of the law in the life of the believer? Unlike modern Protestants, Jesus had a high regard for the law. In the Sermon on the Mount, right after the Beatitudes Jesus began to talk about the law this way,
(Matthew 5:17 KJV) Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.I think maybe this verse in Proverbs makes a contribution to the debate, at least it does in my life. The problem is the heart that “turns away” (5493). It is a mind that thinks without “listening” (8085). This is telling us that the law has value in our moral development. It is important to our understanding of right and wrong. In his discussion of the law, Paul points out that until the law came, people did not know what it was that God expected. This is at the root of our believe in the rule of law and due process. We would do well to study and understand the law. This is not an expectation that we will keep it flawlessly. It doesn’t say that here. It says don’t turn away, listen.
I also think that at least for us Gentile believers we are talking about the moral law not the ceremonial or dietary laws.
So? Make it a part of your worship pattern to at least read through the law. This means all of the Old Testament, not just the Gospels. I know that I read the book of Numbers a few years ago and don’t plan on reading it again soon, but I read it. I even found a few gems. God wants us to know what He expects of man. Then we trust the Blood to cleanse, the Holy Spirit to guide and grace to work in us.