A couple of Sundays ago, the psalm response was “Lord, I love your commands.”
If your first reaction was along the lines of “I don’t really, of course,” then slide over on the bench because I’m with you. I don’t love the laws of the United States of America, and I don’t find myself falling over with glee when I look at God’s commands either. Is that a failing? Regardless, even for deeply personal ones, where I feel like God wanted me to do something and I did it, I don’t react by saying, “♥♥♥Okay, God!!!♥♥♥♥ ♥♥♥♥I’m totally not stealing anything today!♥♥♥♥”
This time, though, I thought about it a bit longer, and I twisted it around. Let’s take it out of Thou Shalt Not territory.
The sonnet is a highly regimented literary form. Fourteen lines, iambic pentameter, with a rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. I’ve written sonnets. You didn’t know that? You want to know why? Because they were terrible and never got beyond first draft.
But look at what some writers have done with that highly regimented form. The beauty, the encapsulation of the human spirit, and I would argue (as they might too) that without the regimented form, they wouldn’t have dug as deep to create as well as they did.
In music, the classical symphony also had a very complex but regimented form, and listeners of the time would have been able to dissect a symphony on the first listen-through, identifying the introduction, exposition, modulating bridge, and so on. And those are just the parts, let alone the theory behind it all (key, tempo, harmony, rhythm…) A regimented form, but listen to what Haydn did with it, what Mozart did.
What if we looked at God’s commands that way? That each of our souls is a poem, a symphony, a work of art, and the Creator has certain guidelines for the work. In order to conform to these guidelines, the soul has to reach deeper and become more perfectly itself, at the same time conforming and becoming more individual. It’s difficult work. (I say this in perfect ignorance, having never attempted to write more than one line of music, for one hand, on the piano.)
If the form itself forces the piece to intensify and become more itself, then yeah, I guess we could say we love it.
Speaking of regimented forms, just to be a tad bit silly…
All through the Bible you’ll read,
God loves all His people indeed.
He gives us commands
and He opens His hands
to give us the things that we need.