When one considers the meaning of man’s ‘moral values or righteousness,’ it would not be unusual to discover that it is extremely subjective, varying from person-to-person, as we are emotional creatures. Biased moral pluralism, even among Christians, is not uncommon when passion or prejudice overtakes one’s better judgment where one set of values is applied for oneself and another for others. In Scripture and within the Jewish Rabbinical writings, righteousness is regularly referenced to weights and measures (Deut 25:15; Lev 19:36; Job 31:6; Ezek. 45:10), implying that there is an immutable standard by which this anomalous ‘value’ is measured. This Psalm provides us with such an eternal standard based on God’s universal moral absolutes, away from our own inherently intuitive and morally corrupted gauge.
What makes our human judgment on ‘values’ so pliable? Primarily, it would be rare for anyone to think in absolute terms when decisions are made. For instance, none of us can actually say that we have never told a ‘white’ lie. So, we lie under certain circumstances and expectations, and at times with absolute emotionless ease in self-interest. Immediately, God’s absolute standard, the 9th Commandment, is contravened; where, a lie is a lie! Whenever we lie, we actually go against God’s basis for His created order where truth is of the essence, irrespective of one’s situational ethics. The plain fact is that the whole foundation of creation is built on truth, reflecting God’s very own character, and everything else that is not grounded in it undercuts itself (Prov 19:9; 1 Jn 2:21). Therefore, as believers, moral values cannot be relative to each person’s setting, but has to be based on God’s moral absolutes (vv.7-8).
This Psalm upsets the normal interpretive genre, as the first six verses use El, the generic or impersonal name for God, informing us that beyond the human ear, creation speaks with a priestly voice of Torah obedience. While the rest of the Psalm uses the proper name for God, Yahweh, where to know Him personally is to know His perfect and righteous Torah or law. But His moral law judges and condemns all men! (v.12). That is its function, and unless we are aware that we are moral failures, as Paul exposited (Gal 3:22), and are in need of a Saviour (v.14; Gal 4:4-5), the law will destroy us in its judgment. So the presence of the law is to undergird the fact that we are the condemned, but as a result of Christ’s fulfillment of the law on our behalf at the cross, we have become God’s children (Gal 4:6-7). Therefore, the ultimate objective of the law is that we become lovers of the law, which is a direct outcome of seeking to please our Saviour and God. That is the completion of the law of love when we set out to do the things that would please the One we love, and in doing so, we are transformed, further intensifying our relationship with our Creator (v.10). It seems inevitable that a true Christian will delight in God’s laws as the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart become acceptable in the sight of God, who has become his rock and his Redeemer (v.14).
Contrary to post-modern moral norms, it is interesting to note that the law of the Lord is perfect and because of its faultlessness, it restores our soul. Likewise, for any child, parents know that their charges enjoy real freedom only when they know their boundaries. Whereas a life free from restrictions, almost always self-destructs! Our post-New Testament existence does not imply that God’s moral laws can be put aside as we focus principally on grace, both being equally important, because we ignore their importance to our own detriment, as they form the spiritual bedrock of any viable Biblical community.