“They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Psalm 19
Now that David has sung his way through the eternal verities of the way of the Lord in Psalm 19, he embellishes the analysis with a pair of shining comparisons—the way of the Lord is sweeter than honey, more precious than gold.
It might be interesting to conjure a couple of more contemporarily seductive commodities than honey and gold, and if I read my spam I think I know what I’d list—Viagra and its clones, revolutionary weight loss plans, and fabulous get-rich quick schemes. So how about this? “The Torah is better than the
rewarding than Cialis.” South
Nope. Doesn’t work.
Which reminds me of a sad story. In the 1870, not far from where I live, stories had begun to circulate about abundant gold in the Black Hills, an area of the Dakota Territories ceded, by government treaty, to the Sioux people. The early settlers of eastern Dakota had a stake in there being gold in them there hills: they guessed the lure of gold would invite more settlers into the region, a good thing, especially to those who would profit from a booming new frontier.
Those settlers exerted political pressure, and General Phil Sheridan proposed an expedition into the Black Hills to investigate the possibility of establishing a fort there. A fort would, they assumed, quash the raids Native people were making on those who passed through the area on their way to the
Oregon and other points west.
General George A. Custer led the expedition, which, for reasons no one has ever been able to determine, included a geologist and miners. Guess what? Even though the expedition’s determined purpose was to find a place for an army fort, on June 30, 1870, near the present day town of
SD, someone from that expedition found gold.
Even though for a time the federal government held to their position that the Black Hills belonged to the Sioux people, and even though a subsequent expedition determined that extracting the gold would require really sophisticated mining techniques, mobs of white folks, pans in hand, swarmed out to western Dakota, money signs dancing in their fancies. In just six years, 10,000 white people lived in the Black Hills.
It’s hard not to believe that, in 1870, some white folks in neighborhoods not all that far from where I live had a firm grasp on the notion that David uses to describe the blessings of the way of the Lord. The faintest whiff of instant cash, these days especially, seems to many something heavenly. People love gold and will risk life and limb for the fleeting chance for what they believe will ensure happiness instantly.
Blessed is the man who discovers gold. That’s not the first verse of the first psalm, of course, but it’s a basic law of Western culture as far back as the psalmist.
The way of the Lord is even better than that, David says, better than those little nuggets that—if you’re lucky—might show up in the bottom of some scratched up pie pan. In fact, it’s better than much pure gold. The way of the Lord is better than the very best of this world.
That’s the claim. When he looks at the ore he’s dug from the mine of his own life’s experience, that’s the vein he’s found—and it’s sweeter than honey, better than gold. Shoot, better than much pure gold.
That’s life’s real bottom line.