“So keep my charge never to …”

Leviticus does not make pleasant reading, but there are many things in the Bible which make us feel uncomfortable – for our own good. We could not fail to notice, in reading chapter 18, the parallel with much human behaviour these days. The Lord tells Moses about his abhorrence of many of the ways of life in Egypt – and in leaving Egypt, God expected his people to leave that way of life behind.

The chapter ends with the words, “So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never make yourselves unclean by them. I am the LORD your God”.

What were these abominable customs? One was, “You shall not lie [have sex] with a male as with a woman” (verse 22). There is also a long list of sexual relationships which are wrong. God says, “You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan to which I am bringing you … For by all these, the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean” (verses 3,24).

Our world today has become more than ever unclean in the sight of God – will he one day do to our world as he did to the nations in the days of Moses? There are indications in scripture that he will, but let us concentrate on ourselves – and the demands that we stay “clean”.

This is the spiritual hygiene which we saw emphasized yesterday as we started reading Psalm 119. We read more of this today and we see that the Psalmist was conscious his ways needed some cleansing for he writes, “When I think of my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law … I am a companion of all those who fear you …” (verses 59-62) Notice that last sentence! Instead of being a companion to those who have no thought for God, he seeks the companionship of those who do.

The Psalmist also recognises that troubles can be a blessing in disguise when he sees they caused him to rely on God. He says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted that I might learn your statutes” (verse 71) and “in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (verse 75).

Food for our own careful thought at all times, but especially when our lives encounter difficulties and we seem unable to cope with them and we pray, “Let your steadfast love comfort me … Let your mercy come to me that I may live; for your law is my delight … I will meditate on your precepts” (verses 76-78).