Comfort food and comfort rules? (Psalm 119:52)

When I think of your rules from of old,
I take comfort, O LORD (Psalm 119:52).

Comfort food, comfort films, comfort friends and comfort rules?

comfort foodsWhat do you do when you need comfort?

Is there a food you eat to calm your soul?  For me lately it’s been Klondike bars.  (What would I do?  I’d open the freezer door.)  But the comfort doesn’t last very long.

Is there a film or TV show you watch to make you relax?  Lately, we’ve been watching Arrested Development.  Funny, but more troubling than comforting.

Is there a friend you talk with to encourage you?  Friends are wonderful, but they’re not always available.

The psalmist finds comfort in rules.  Nice huh?  A few verses earlier the psalmist needed comfort in affliction and found it in God’s promise, which gave life (for more on Psalm 119:50, click here).

Wait, how do rules bring comfort?  Rules bring structure, which is good.  Rules set boundaries which we all need.  But God’s rules are designed to bring us closer to God.  The psalmist might not always have a friend to talk to, but God’s always available.  And that’s highly comforting.

How do God’s rules bring us closer to God?  Good question.  Some rules like love God with all your heart, soul and strength (Deut. 6:5) obviously move us toward God.  Other rules like resting on the Sabbath (Deut. 5:12), force us to slow down, rest and make room for God in our lives.  Other rules make us dependent upon God, so hopefully we pray for divine assistance to obey.

The psalmist isn’t comforted with just any rules, but old ones.  Isn’t that always the case, the old rules are the best ones when you need to be comforted?

The oldest rule, is the first rule that God gave to the freshly made humans, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).  In order to be fruitful and multiply, what do humans need to do?  I’m pretty sure that will involve sex.  How much sex?  Enough to fill the earth.   (I discuss this in God Behaving Badly pages 116-118.)

God’s first rule is basically, “Have a lot of sex.”  Yes, that’s what it says (in the context of a life-long committed relationship between a man and a woman).

What a great rule!  Comforting and exciting.



  1. Come onn you make it sound like God’s excited about orgasms. Be fruitful and multiply was picked up again after the flood. God wanted the race to propagate.

  2. Kim, God is excited about a lot of things. Yes, he did want the humans to propagate, but he also made the act necessary to propagate enjoyable. I’m sure he’s excited about that too.

  3. Dear Dr. Lamb! I laughed a lot when reading last part of your reflection. I read a book yesterday. In this book, the author states that “It is important to note that “spirit” and “spiritual” are not the opposite of “physical” or “material” (Greek soma, Latin corpus) but of “flesh” (Greek sarx, Latin caro) in the sense of everything contrary to the Spirit of God. The intended contrast is not therefore between body and soul but between two attitudes to life.” I totally agree with the author’s opinion and I believe that the Bible describes body and sex positively. Thank you so much for this insight!

  4. Psalm 119 came up in our prayer book recently and it led me to dig up your blog entries about it. I particularly enjoy this paradigm shift about taking comfort in rules, and I find it insightful. As someone who sometimes doesn’t like “rules” and feels like they “hold me back”, I need to be reminded that God sets up boundaries and rules for our good and for us to flourish. Thank God for wonderful covenants like marriage and the promise of His spirit. It’s an understatement to say that the alternative chaos of no rules would “hold me back” even more.

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