‘The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.’ (Psalm 119:72)
Well might David acknowledge the benefit of affliction, since he had thus learned in God’s statutes something that was better to him than thousands of gold and silver. This was indeed an enlightened judgment for one to form, who had so small a part of the law of God’s mouth, and so large a portion of this world’s treasure. And yet, if we study only his book of Psalms to know the important uses and privileges of this law, and his son’s book of Ecclesiastes, to discover the real value of paltry gold and silver (Eccles. 5:9-20; 6:1, 2), we shall, under Divine teaching, be led to make the same estimate for ourselves. Yes, believer, with the same, or rather with far higher delight than the miser calculates his thousands of gold and silver, do you tell out the precious contents of the law of your God? After having endeavoured in vain to count the thousands in your treasure, one single name sums up their value—’the unsearchable riches of Christ’ (Eph. 3:8). Would not the smallest spot of ground be estimated at thousands of gold and silver, were it known to conceal under its surface a mine of inexhaustible treasure? This it is that makes the Word so inestimable. It is the field of the ‘hidden treasure.’ ‘The pearl of great price’ (Matt. 13:44-46) is known to be concealed here. You would not, therefore, part with one leaf of your Bible for all the thousands of gold and silver. You know yourself to be in possession of the substance—you have found all besides to be a shadow. ‘I lead’—saith the Saviour—’in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment that I may cause them that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures’ (Prov. 8:20, 21). The grand motive, therefore, in ‘searching the Scriptures,’ is because ‘they testify of Christ’ (John 5:39). A sinner has but one want—a Saviour. A believer has but one desire—to ‘know and win Christ’ (Phil. 3:8-10). With a ‘single eye,’ therefore, intent upon one point, he studies this blessed book. ‘With unveiled face he beholds in this glass the glory of the Lord’ (2 Cor. 3:18): and no arithmetic can compute the price of that, which is now unspeakably better to him than the treasures of the earth.
Christian! bear your testimony to your supreme delight in the book of God. You have here opened the surface of much intellectual interest and solid instruction. But it is the joy that you have found in the revelation of the Saviour, in his commands, in his promises, in his ways, that leads you to exclaim, ‘More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold!’ (Ps. 19:10). Yes, indeed—every promise—every declaration—entering in him, is a pearl; and the Word of God is full of these precious pearls. If then they be the richest who have the best and the largest treasure, those who have most of the Word in their hearts, not those who have most of the world in their possession—are justly entitled to this pre-eminence. Let then the Word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom’ (Col. 3:16). For those who are rich in this heavenly treasure are men of substance indeed.
True—this is a correct estimate of the worth of God’s law—better than this world’s treasure. But is it better to me? Is this my decided choice? How many will inconsiderately acknowledge its supreme value, while they yet hesitate to relinquish even a scanty morsel of earth for an interest in it! Do I then habitually prefer this law of God’s mouth to every worldly advantage? Am I ready to forego every selfish consideration, *if it may only be the means of uniting my heart more closely to the Book of God? If this be not my practical conviction, I fear I have not yet opened the mine. But if I can assent to this declaration of the man of God, I have made a far more glorious discovery than Archimedes; and therefore may take up his expression of joyful surprise—’l have found it! I have found it!’ What? That which the world could never have given me—that of which the world can never deprive me.
Yet how affecting is it to see men poor in the midst of great riches! Often in the world we see the possessor of a large treasure—without a heart to enjoy it—virtually therefore a pauper. Oftener still in the Church do we see professors (may it not be so with some of us?) with their Bibles in their hands—yet poor even with the external interest in its ‘unsearchable riches.’ Often also do we observe a want of value for the whole law or revelation of God’s mouth. Some parts are highly honoured to the depreciation of the rest. But let it be remembered that the whole of Scripture ‘is given by inspiration of God and is therefore profitable’ for its appointed end (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Oh! beware of resting satisfied with a scanty treasure. Prayer and diligence will bring out not only ‘things new,’ but the ‘old’ also with a new and brighter glow. Scraping the surface is a barren exercise. Digging into the bowels is a most enriching employ. No vein in this mine is yet exhausted. And rich indeed shall we be, if we gather only one atom of the gold each day in prayerful meditation. But as you value your progress and peace in the ways of God—as you have an eye to your Christian perfection—put away that ruinous thought—true as an encouragement to the weak (Zech. 4:10), but false as an excuse to the slothful (Prov. 13. 4)—that a little knowledge is sufficient to carry us to heaven.
And—Lord—help me to prize the law as coming from thy mouth (1 Thess. 2:13). Let it be for ever written upon my heart. Let me be daily exploring my hidden treasures. Let me be enriching myself and all around me with the present possession and interest in these heavenly blessings.
*A Jewish Rabbi, when induced by the prospect of a lucrative situation to fix his settlement in a place where there was no synagogue, is said to have resisted the temptation by the recollection of this verse. Poli Synopsis—in loco. A reproof to Christians, who, in choosing ‘the bounds of their habitation,’ have not always eyed their Master’s rule, Matt. 6:33.