let your hand be ready to help me, for i have chosen your precepts. [psalm 119:173]


God’s law is a means of help.

on first reading, it may seem like this verse is advocating following God’s law as a means to get his help (as some sort of bribe), but that is probably not what this is saying. c.s. lewis responds to this idea in the weight of glory:

“we must not be troubled by unbelievers when they say that this promise of reward makes the christian life a mercenary affair. there are different kinds of rewards. there is the reward which has no natural connection with the things you do to earn it and is quite foreign to the desires that ought to accompany those things. money is not the natural reward of love; that is why we call a man a mercenary if he marries a woman for the sake of her money. but marriage is the proper reward for real love, and he is not a mercenary for desiring it. a general who fights well in order to get [fame] is [a] mercenary; a general who fights for victory is not, victory being the proper reward of battle as marriage is the proper reward of love. the proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation.” (emphasis mine)

God helping us, then, is the “consummation of” or natural result of us choosing his precepts. for example, when we follow God’s command to love our neighbors, it is only natural for God to work through that cultivated love to bring them along to help us in times of hardship. we must not, however, love our neighbors for the sake of them helping us later; it is God that is truly doing the helping, and he himself is the “natural reward” for our obedience and submission. this is not, of course, to say that our obedience earns us God’s favor; even one sin against our righteous God excludes us from that. praise the Lord, that he sent his Son so that he might forget our sins! through the blood of Christ, we may live in the natural result of our obedience, as if we did not deserve death! if that does not lead our hearts to a place of worship, i know not what will!

bless the Lord, o my soul,

     and all that is within me,

     bless his holy name!

bless the Lord o my soul,

     and forget not all his benefits,

who forgives all your iniquity,

     who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit,

     who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

who satisfies you with good

     so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

[psalm 103:1-5]


~ stephen hall