Hmm. I must say that I'm glad I'm under the New Covenant of grace. I mean, someone touched the ark of the covenant, bam! he's dead. Disobey the slightest command about the destroying of enemies and, bam! you and your whole family and clan are dead. Quite extreme. I know, God was making His point. I'm just glad I get a slew of second chances. Sure, He could kill me whenever He chose, but it's a little different in this day and age.
Btw, I'm a NT girl. Except for Psalms, I don't hang out back there much unless I'm studying something. Does that mean I'm shallow? ;) After all, as you pointed out, the NT is the fulfillment of OT and the more I love the New, the more I can love the Old (opposite of you, Zoe).
Shallow, I think not. I merely think grace is terrifying and that the law is beautiful. 0=) And I think God was doing more than "making a point" in the Old Testament. Certainly, the Law is for lawbreakers and has only the power to point out our sins and condemn us.
Now, the rest of this is not directed at KC. I'm just using her question as a springboard.
Perhaps it is what the Law tells me about God's nature, rather, than six hundred dietary, ritual, and moral laws. I find as much grace in God forcing David to go back and actually bring the ark of the covenant back properly as I do watching him save the Hebrews out of Egypt, preserve them forty years in the desert, give them Canaan, provide them judges, and then relent and allow them a king when he did not wish it so. Remember how a man touched it and died? The point was never that Uzzah (I think that's his name) touched the ark, although that itself was an offense of ignorance.
The point was, rather, that David in his haste (and he was a rash man swift to fly into a temper, though quickly brought to simmer by a well-placed word or kick to the pants) had failed to consult God on the matter. And let's not forget David, writer of the majority of the Psalms, that great warrior king who preferred playing his harp and tending sheep. A man after God's own heart, right?
Of course, there is that one sordid tale...
Here is Uriah the Hittite, a man who was one of David's thirty mighty men while he fled from the murderous King Saul. Here is this Uriah, who probably saved David's rear countless time. Uriah, with who David has laughed and fought, eaten and drunk, who watched his friend the shepherd turned warrior drive back enemies, run for his life, and, at long last, become king. Uriah, who knew David's wives and children, who likely invited David to his wedding to Bathsheba.
Yes, that was Uriah. And then the scene changes: King David, this warrior king with a shepherd for a father, who not only isn't where he's supposed to be (in battle), but is out on the roof gawking at a woman. Do you really think he didn't know this was Uriah's wife? He's eaten with this woman. He knows this woman. He was likely at the wedding.
And the scandal begins. Not only does David have an affair with her, but when she informs him she's pregnant, he tries twice to cover it up, then sends his good old war buddy out on the front lines and orders his execution. After Uriah's dead, he takes Bathsheba.
Then comes Nathan the prophet. As I said, David's a rash, hotheaded man, and he's just broadcast this truth to the world. Do you really think David doesn't deserve to die? Believe me; he did.
Only God doesn't kill him. Yes, the child died. For David that was worse punishment. But God then gives David, by this same woman, a boy named Solomon. Shalom. Peace.
God's rebukes may be harsh, but face it: No one can say his mercy is not present in the older pages of Scripture.
So I suppose the point is that it isn't the actual set of 630 laws we love. And yes, you don't sit there and read through the Old Testament strictly to make sure you don't "cook a young goat in its mother's milk." I think most of us can handle that one. 0=)
You can't just "read the OT." You're right. Psalms you can read. Leviticus? Um....not so much. Rather, study it. Take small bites, chew carefully, and swallow. It's the difference between soup and a steak dinner.
Moreover, no one in the Scriptures, thank God, is perfect. David is usually the prime OT example, but even guys like Elijah didn't exactly make par. But we learn so much about God's character, how he thinks, how he moves, and the many ways he reveals himself to his people. We learn his severity. We learn his mercies even during the severity.
As for the whole "a minor infraction, and bam, you and your family are dead" thing, well, honestly, it's more or less immediate rather than the usual "Eh, we'll watch this guy live his whole life in complete defiance against God, and when he dies naturally he'll just go to Hell."
Frankly, that prolonged judgment is, to me, far worse than "I'm done with you. Lights out." It's actually much easier to obey someone who has a sword at your throat than one who merely dusts his feet off and walks away. Delayed judgment only allows more time for your sins to increase. Immediate judgment cuts it off before you can do something worse.
Furthermore, if the slightest disobedience regarding a command as to how to deal with enemies is worthy of death, then why shouldn't the penalty be exacted? I'm not being cold here, I promise. But that's the question: If I tell someone the penalty for even the slightest deviation from my instructions is execution, then how can I possibly shirk from what I've said will happen?
"Well, what about mercy?" you may ask. Okay. Granted. I can choose to extend mercy. And it would be my right and my authority to do so. But that does not negate that if I chose not to extend mercy, I am still as much in the right and authority.
I think that's largely my problem with this whole "well, we're under the law of grace" thing that completely fails to appreciate how we wound up even needing grace. Remember, "where there is no law there is no transgression" (Romans) and "sin increased that grace may abound" (my paraphrase of Romans -- Ha, no one saw my typo).
According to Scripture, the Law was written for lawbreakers. It became a kind of overseer (I can't remember which letter this is in). Now, we, as heirs of Christ, are no longer under the law, but have come into our inheritance (to attempt to use this analogy that I'm probably going to butcher), not by any merit of our own, but by the grace bestowed on us.
Where there is no law there is no transgression. Where there are no lawbreakers there is no need for law. I submit that if the Law did not exist, Grace would be an impossibility. And by "the Law" I do not refer to a bunch of rules and regulations written in stone tablets, for if the sum of the Law is contained in Deuteronomy 6.4 and Leviticus 19.18, then the remainder of those commands much be nothing more than mere exposition of what those two key principles mean (I'm now stealing from my friend Jeremiah).
In other words, mercy, by nature, cannot be deserved. Neither can grace. If you deserve something, and I give it to you, I have done nothing more than what I am obligated to do. If I (somehow) keep the whole letter of the Law (which, remember Paul writes that he did), then what do I gain? Nothing. Remember, Paul will say later it's all rubbish.
Therefore, Jesus had to do more than simply follow 630 Mosaic laws. Remember: Jesus worked on the Sabbath. Jesus walked among people of ill repute (though he did tell a man he healed to go home and "stop sinning" because he was running around with his mat on the Sabbath).
I'm always hesitant to make any "well, Jesus did this, therefore we..." statements because, one, the first rebuttal will always be "Well, Jesus was God"; and, two, just because Jesus called Pharisees "white washed tombs" and "broods of vipers" doesn't give me the right to do so. Jesus ran through the temple with a whip and tore it up. Somehow I don't think vandalism is a good way for the average disciple of Jesus to go.
So what law did Jesus follow? Yes, he was without sin and he kept all of his Father's commands. He was obedient to death and became a ransom for us all. In fact, I would submit that the true Law Jesus was fulfilling was well beyond ritual (though he did do that also).
If the entire Law is summed in two sentences, and those two sentences were the crux on which everything else hinged, the epicenter from which all the others come, then how can we say Jesus merely lived thirty or so years obeying 630 moral, ritual (btw, Jesus never acted as a priest, that I recall, beyond reading from the Torah, so he couldn't have obeyed or disobeyed the Levitical code because he didn't serve in the temple in that manner), and dietary laws, then perhaps there was always more to it than that.
Remember: Israel had righteous and wicked kings (I & II Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles). Israel had righteous men and wicked men. Israel had good judges and morally perverse ones (Samson, anyone?). Israel had good priests and wicked ones (Eli and his sons, anyone?).
I'm rambling a little. Back to the original question KC asked: "Is it shallow to prefer the NT and Psalms over the rest of Scripture?"
I wouldn't call it shallow. I still wonder at anyone who never reads and completely debunks the entire first 66 (okay, in this instance, 65, since Psalms is usually one that gets read) books of this little divine library. Of course, rest assured, KC, from the way you talk I highly doubt you fall into this category. Certainly, grace is a far greater thing.
Yet I still say that justice and mercy cannot exist apart from one another. The Law is beautiful because it is just and right and good. Grace is glorious because it shows us the awesome splendor of a God who is not a tyrant, who is not evil, who is humble and patient and slow to wrath.
Slow to wrath. Slow to wrath. For if his anger lasted longer than a moment, our hearts would melt like wax and even our very souls would perish. God, in all his terrible, awesome power and might, loves justice and prefers mercy (Micah 6.8) and is slow, slow to wrath (Isaiah; James). May his name and renown be known through out the earth; may his fame spread throughout the heavens, even to the depths of the sea. May all the earth know his majesty and bask in his glory and know the might of his right hand.
And may his mercies never cease; they are new each morning; great is thy faithfulness.