How can a young person stay on the path of purity?(Ps. 119:9-16 NIV)
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
The Psalmist is taking the role of a wisdom teacher and asking a rhetorical question, ‘How can a young person stay on the path of purity?’ The answer is by living according to God’s word, through prayer and through seeking the Lord’s help with all your heart.
In v16 the Psalmist promises to not neglect God’s word. In fact, he says that he has hidden God’s word in his heart so that he might not sin against God. The habit of hiding the word in our hearts requires discipline, the discipline of reading God’s word, thinking about what the text means, and pondering or meditating on what is it that God wants me to learn from this passage. Meditating on God’s word is a lifelong occupation. The Psalmist reads, rereads and reads again. There is no one able to master the whole Bible. I have preached through the book of Ruth about ten times, more times than I have preached through any other book. I have read Jewish scholars, critical commentaries, literary criticisms, journal articles, devotional commentaries, and homiletical commentaries on the book. Each time I have come to study the book again, I find more to learn, more to apply. You will never exhaust the content of any book of the Bible. We need to hide and keep hiding the word of God in our hearts. It is like our daily food. The food I had yesterday did me for yesterday, but I will eat more today. It is the same with God’s word. In Psalm 1, the Psalmist speaks of meditating day and night on the law of the Lord. This is a deep concentration on the word of God.
The Psalmist develops his understanding of the word of the Lord by talking about it with others. It is enjoyable to listen to others talk about something that interests them. It could be a hobby that they enjoy and because they enjoy their hobby, they learn more about it and they can talk enthusiastically about it. My son-in-law was doing a dissertation on exploring how men deal with their emotions and he was using the life of David as an example. As he got into the subject it was enjoyable listening to him share some of his thoughts, and because I have been working through the Psalms I had also been reading about how the Psalmist expresses his emotions to God in prayer. That is an example of what the Psalmist has been doing. His love for the word of God has made him talk about what he loves to others. We should try and develop that kind of love for God’s word.
Lord God help us to sample enough of Your word each day that our appetite will grow for reading it, for thinking about what we have read and talking through what we have read with others. We like the idea of the word being hidden in our hearts that we might not sin against You, but help us to put a plan in place to begin that process of having that word in and upon our hearts because we ask this in our Saviour’s name. Amen.