King David loved God’s law and prayed (Psalm 119:62):
“At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.”
To be as enthused with the Law of Moses as King David professed it in the book of Psalms may strike some of us as strange. Interestingly, when the Ten Commandments were first revealed on Mount Sinai the common reaction was fear. According to the story from the book of Exodus, the people of Israel reached the Sinai desert three months after they had left Egypt and proceeded to set camp near Mount Sinai. Meanwhile Moses went up the mountain to speak with the Lord.
One day the Lord announced to Moses that He would make an appearance in the sight of all the people. This would happen three days later allowing the people to prepare for this event and get ready. And so the Israelites assembled in front of the holy mountain early in the morning of the third day. As promised, the Lord came down on Mount Sinai. While He spoke the mountain shook and fumed, lightening stroke and thunders rolled. At the foot of the mountain the people of Israel stood – shaking and trembling – while for the very first time the Ten Commandments were submitted to mankind (Exodus 20:18):
“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance.”
Fear can be a good thing that keeps us from harm. For instance the fear of getting hurt prevents us from touching fire. Children learn that really quickly. But when we grow up we use fire for our benefit. God is an eternal flame. He appeared to Moses in the form of fire, the burning bush. However it seems that over time the prophet grew past the fear of fire and a friendship developed between him and the Lord – a relationship the Bible depicts as exceptional, although I don’t believe God wants friendship with people to be an exception.
Life is more than just two-dimensional. Unless we want to live like cartoon characters, at some point in our lives we need to outgrow the idea that the world around us only falls into two categories: right and wrong; good and evil. The Lord’s commandments, written in stone, represent the stepping stones towards God’s world that knows no commands and is entirely built on love. A rigid, rule-driven life simply leaves no room to breathe. God’s commands were not written to stone us, but to guide us. King David understood that profoundly. He didn’t lead a flawless life, but he is known to be a big believer in God’s mercies.