"THE LAW OF THE LORD"
"Moreover by them is Thy servant warned; and in keeping them is great reward" (Ps. 19.11)
INTRO.: A song which extols the word of God as that by which we are warned and given a great reward is "The Law of the Lord" (#19 in Hymns for Worship Revised where it is simply entitled "Psalm 19;" but not the same as #75 in Sacred Selections for the Church, though the wording is somewhat similar). The text is taken directly from Psalm 19:7-10. The tune is a traditional melody from an unknown source. The origin of the song is also unknown. It was found in a small 1974 paperback book called Rejoice! And Sing to the Lord, published by Sweet Publishing Company, Ft. Worth, TX, where it was marked "traditional" and arranged by Gary Leon Mabry, who was born in 1951. After graduating from Abilene Christian College/University, he was for a while a member of the music faculty at the school.
In the 1970’s, Mabry helped edit two editions of Rejoice! And Sing to the Lord for Sweet Publishing Co. His most popular song was "Blue Skies and Rainbows" of 1971, copyrighted by The Boston Music Co. It appeared in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons, both in an arrangement by John D. Blackstone, and is found, apparently in its original form, in the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand. Praise for the Lord contains some other works by Mabry, including an arrangement of Charles F. Brown’s "A Common Love," his own "Thank You, Lord," and his version of an American folk song based on Rom. 8.1-2 called "There Is No Condemnation." When Abilene Christian University began compilation of Great Songs Revised, which was published in 1986, Mabry was a member of the hymnal committee but left the University shortly thereafter and went to Colorado. More recently, he was living in San Antonio, TX, where he was employed by the University of Texas at San Antonio. Repeated efforts to contact him and obtain more information about the song have been unsuccessful.
The original Rejoice! And Sing to the Lord books are now out of print, but Sweet Publishing Co. published a new volume in 1984, compiled by Reid Lancaster, which combines in one book the best of both volumes, and it contains "Psalm 19." Among other hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song was further arranged from the Rejoice! And Sing to the Lord books for use in the 1987 Hymns for Worship with changes in harmony and rhythm by co-editor Dane K. Shepard (b. 1951). SInce seeing the song in Hymns for Worship, I have also found it in a couple of more recent books, the 1990 Trinity Hymnal Revised from Great Commission Publications and the 2004 More Songs and Hymns of Revival from North Valley Publications, where it is listed as either "Unknown" or "Anonymous."
The song emphasizes the importance of God’s revelation to mankind and what it does for us.
I. Stanza 1 says that God’s word will save
"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple."
A. While the passage of scripture upon which this song is based was written under the Old Testament law, the principles that are enunciated apply to God’s law in every age, and today we are under the law of Christ: Gal. 6.1
B. It is upon believing and obeying the law of the Lord that we are converted: Acts 3.19
C. Because God has made His testimonies known to us, even those who may be simple or uneducated in the things of this world can become wise in spiritual matters: Ps. 119.130
II. Stanza 2 says that God’s word will guide
"The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes."
A. The statutes of the Lord are His precepts for right living: Ps. 111.7
B. Those who submit to these statutes and come to be in Christ can rejoice in the Lord: Phil. 4.4
C. It is by the wisdom that we gain from God’s revelation that our eyes are enlightened to know the right way to go: Eph. 1.17-18
III. Stanza 3 says that God’s word will last forever
"The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether."
A. Since it is the word of God that produces the true fear of God in our hearts, the term "fear" is metonymously used for the word which produces it: Eccl. 12.13-14
B. This word is something that will endure forever: 1 Pet. 1.23-25
C. Because the judgments of the Lord found in His message are righteous altogether, we can find in the gospel God’s righteousness that we might be justified: Rom. 1.16-17, 5.1
CONCL.: The chorus emphasizes what our reaction should be to the things that God has made known to us.
"More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold,
Sweeter also than honey, and the honey comb.
Again, we understand that we do not live under the Old Testament law that God gave to the nation of Israel, but God still has a law for us in Christ, and that this law plays a very important role in converting our souls, leading us in the way that God wants us to go, and finally helping us gain a home in heaven. Therefore, we should always love God’s revelation and submit ourselves to "The Law of the Lord."