Thirteenth Letter of the Hebrew Alephbeth
"Oh how I love Your teaching!" This author is exuberant over the Torah; I don't know that I've ever expressed that kind of delight over the details of Deuteronomy. For my part, when I'm looking through Leviticus, the effect is more a of a dull fog on my mind; I'm reading about ancient rituals and covenant commands that are so far removed from my postmodern 21st century life. But this student savors the Word, it's sweeter than honey...? If honey was a delicacy, a food of high value, then the Torah is valued even more than food, even more than the most valued treasure of the plate. Is it for me? No...
For this poet's part, his experience has been wonderful: his studying has resulted in greater wisdom than his enemies, more insight than his teachers, more understanding than his elders, and avoidance of every evil way. Hmmmmm...sounds like a little exaggeration going on...but that's what you do when you try to put words to the object of your deep affection. I can't fault him, I've not expressed that kind of love for God's Word; not even for honey - even the Canadian kind.
What is it about the Torah, the instructions and commands of the LORD, that fascinates this man? Other ancient nations had commands and regulations given to them by the gods. Others had rituals and rites given to them from the heavens; what made Yahweh's word superior? Truth; Righteousness. Following the laws of the LORD, the faithful student avoids falsehoods, they gain a deeper grasp of reality, of what is right and good. This knowledge enables them to create a vibrant community of families, of individuals committed to doing what is pure, noble, lovely, beautiful, wise, good - something to be savored like the sweetest honey. All that is wicked, loathsome, evil was to be abandoned, rejected, avoided.
Just the other day an accountant friend of mine commented on the giving patterns of her clients: Christians and Jews are more generous than the non-religious. Even when we don't love the Torah like we should, even when we don't devour the Gospels like we could, what we do know gets inside of us like leaven in bread, and raises up in us a sweetness through which God feeds and blesses the world.
"How pleasing is Your word to my palate, sweeter than honey.
I ponder your precepts; therefore I hate every false way."