How can a young man keep his way pure? This is a question that every person desiring to live godly asks at some time point. Psalm 119:9 tells us a young man can stay pure by keeping his way according to God’s word. The Hebrew word used for “keeping” means to keep, to watch, to guard like a watchman over a garden, flock, or house. How are we to stay morally pure and clean? By protecting our lives with God’s word. Peter tells us to “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour“(1 Peter 5:8). Each of us have the challenge before us of watching for anything in our paths that goes against God. In order to spot these things, we must know His word!
Verse 10 goes on to say, “With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments.” Have you prayed these same words before? I know personally there have been times when I have felt extremely weak while going through a trial or temptation and I have prayed, “Lord increase my desire to follow you.” There have been times in my life especially when I was younger that I knew the right thing to do and I wanted to do it, but there was still pressure to do wrong. Sometimes I just prayed over and over for God to increase my desire to do the right thing and follow Him in order to overcome the temptation. The psalmist is saying the same thing. The Hebrew word for sought is not a one time occasion of seeking; it means you have diligently searched over and over so much that you have beat or tread a path. He diligently searched for God and found Him and does not want to wander from His commandments. He now knows the right way and how important it is to follow it and he does not want to stray from it. He is pleading with God to not let him go astray. We must have soft hearts that never stop seeking God, hearts that are willing to pray, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
One of the most popular verses in scripture is Psalm 119:11; “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” When we treasure God’s word in our heart we store it up, we never want to let it go, we will do anything to protect it. The word used for sin means to miss the mark like an archer or to take a false step and stumble, this isn’t necessarily an intentional transgression. God’s word is so powerful that if we store it up in our heart and allow it to work on our minds it can help us aim and not miss and walk and not stumble. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
In verse 12 the psalmist states, “Blessed are You oh Lord teach me Your statutes.” The word used for teach means to chastise or discipline like you would train cattle or oxen with a goad. The oxen would be pulling the plow or cart and to keep them going in the direction and at the speed desired the farmer would use a wooden tool about eight feet long fitted with an iron spike or point at one end. Do you think that if oxen could speak they would ask their masters to discipline them this way? I’m sure not, but that is what the psalmist is saying to God. He values God and His law so much that he is willing to submit himself to whatever God deems necessary to teach him. This is the same attitude we should have also. Hebrews 12:10b-11 says, “but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
The psalmist goes on to say in verse 13, “With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth.” The word ordinances in this passage means judgments or law. Have you spoken God’s laws aloud? And not just that, have you told them to someone else? Jesus has commanded us in Matthew 28 to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Personal evangelism is an area in which I am weak. I can honestly say that I have and am doing this with my children and family, but outside of them…OUCH! It saddens me that I can’t say that I have spoken God’s words to those outside of Christ recently. Given that I have three small children that is somewhat understood, but I know I do not try as hard as I should in this area because it is outside of my comfort zone. Maybe you can relate. I know I can do better!
Verse 14 says, “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches.” The psalmist says he has experienced joy in his life while following God’s word, and he compares his joy to wealth. He says he has experienced the same amount of joy and gladness following God as he experienced with having riches. Obeying God’s laws should bring us joy. It should not be a burden to follow God’s word, but a lightening of the burdens of sin we have bore. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” As Christians our sins have been taken away by the blood of Jesus Christ when we are washed in the waters of baptism (Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3, Hebrews 9:22). Paul tell us in Colossians 1:22-23 that Christ “has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach – if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard.” What a reason to have unsurpassed joy and an unyielding commitment to our Savior!
Verse 15 says, “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways.” The word meditate used in this passage can mean to talk with oneself out loud and regard is usually translated “to look”. It was the same word used to tell Lot and his family not to look back when they were fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 and the same word used in Exodus 3 when Moses was afraid to look at God. So, another way to write this verse would be, “I will speak Your commandments out loud to myself and look to Your ways.” Another way we can write God’s words on our hearts is to repeat and ponder His commands aloud to ourselves and look to God’s ways of doing things. His ways are always best and He has our greatest interest at heart. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6). The Holy Spirit filled writer of this psalm who spoke the language it was originally written in says he will meditate on God’s precepts. He didn’t have to look in a Bible Encyclopedia to know the cultural background of the time, he didn’t have to find a Bible dictionary to clarify any unfamiliar words, he didn’t have to use a lexicon to discover the original word and its definition and how it is used, and he says he will meditate on God’s precepts. How much more should we be doing the same?
“I shall delight in Your statues I shall not forget Your word.” (Psa. 119:16). This is essentially the same as saying Your word will not be forgotten or I will not cease to care about Your word. In order to delight in God’s law we must first believe that He is the one true God(Heb 11:6) and then we can trust and obey Him. I know I cannot delight or take pleasure in anyone’s rules for me if I do not trust they have my greatest good at heart. The writer believes and puts his trust in the Lord and so should we. In order to obey God, we must know what He has told us to do. We are so fortunate and privileged to each own our own copy of God’s word, and yet at the same time we take it for granted. I will shamefully admit there are passages of scripture I once knew by heart that I have since forgotten. It bothers me that is the case, but what am I willing to do about it? What about you? Are you in the same boat? The greatest thing about walking with God is every day we wake up breathing, we get a new chance to do better than we did the day before. If you are like me and this passage of scripture has stepped on your toes a little let us recommit to remembering God and not forgetting His word…it’s the only path to truly knowing Him which transforms our lives! (Rom. 11:33-12:2).
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by Claire Palmer