I love questions, and I hope you love them as well. Questions are the ingredients of learning; if we ask them, we may find answers that season our minds, and our hearts, and our spirits in such a way that God and life can be savored more deeply. If we don’t ask questions, then we may find our taste buds soon become dull to the pleasures of life.
In Psalm 119:9, the Psalmist asks: How can a young man keep his way pure? This is an important question—one we’d all do well to consider. And the question is interesting in that the young are called out in particular. The assumption almost seems to be that the path we take early in life is often the path we continue later in life. And this is true, isn’t it? Many of us live out our youths and then spend the rest of our lives dealing with the consequences, whether positive or negative. School experiences, the absence of a mother, the abuse of a father, the training of loving parents, the presence of a dear friend—all of these affect us deeply in ways that are lasting.
The answer to this question, and the answer to the question of how an old man can keep his way pure, is the same: by guarding, storing, seeking, and using the word of God.
We might imagine our lives as a walk along a path. As we become young men and women, there are many paths we can take, like spokes on a wheel, and as we choose one and walk along it, we find there are many things that would pull us off this path. Detours, obstacles, ruts, holes, calls from others to join their paths—all these distract us from the simple task of walking forward each and every day.
What keeps us on the path of faith is the word of God. His word protects this path, and it directs the path itself. But using it in this way is intentional—the Psalmist says we “guard” or “keep” the path according to His word. So as the path is to be walked daily, the guarding or keeping must be daily as well.
Also along these paths are storehouses. Storehouses, as you know, are meant to store things. And we store things not for the sake of storing them, but so that we might use them one day. The Psalmist says he has “stored up [God’s] word in [his] heart [so] that [he] might not sin against [Him]” (v. 11). If the storehouses are empty, then we may be out of luck. And if they’re full and we don’t use them, then we may be out of luck. So storing up His word is crucial, and going into the storehouse to use the word is crucial, if we’re to remain on our path of faith.
Finally, we can never keep to this path alone. The Psalmist cries out, “With my whole heart I seek you,” (v. 10) which is odd in that he just lamented his lack of steadfastness in v. 5. So he must be expressing a heart desire, rather than a statement of fact. And we do find him on his path, crying out for help, saying, “Let me not wander from your commandments!” (v. 10). He knew what we know—that we walk our paths of life alone at our peril. The best path, the path of purity, the path of joy, is a path walked with God.
This God, who is the Word, who gave us His word, who reminds us of His word, is our faithful companion. May we grow in our understanding that He is there with us, that His word will guard our paths, so that we might not sin against Him, and so that we might experience the fullness of joy in walking each day by His side.
Question: When you read Scripture, do you think of it as storing up for use, either now or later, or something else altogether?
Some of you are blog writers; others are blog readers; still others are both. For the writers, you will undoubtedly know that your particular forum is often about something in particular. You could call it your mission statement, or your brand, or your purpose for writing. And for the readers, you will certainly recognize this kind of central message in the different blogs you read. They are helpful because, as readers, we can get a feel for what the writer is about, and how we can be helped, by participating in the ministry of writing, reading, and engaging.
This site exists to proclaim Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings, specifically by pointing to His superior worth compared to other things we seek to satisfy us. Over time, I have found that what I write tends to be story-driven, or thought-reflective, or question-based. I hope that it serves towards the end of making Jesus look glorious. What this style of writing has meant is that posts tend to be a bit longer, and a bit less frequent, than you might find elsewhere. And that has been good for me, and I pray, good for you as well.
For years now, I have sensed God’s invitation to me to come know Him more intimately—not to know more about Him, or to serve Him more readily, but to know Him more deeply. So I’ve recently begun a discipleship course that focuses on the daily devotional habits of reading, reflection, meditation, and prayer. And I want this process to be a means towards the end of my knowing God more intimately.
I have decided to be more intentional about finding out what God is revealing to me in my daily reading—and to know how it deepens my affections for Him and reveals more about my heart attitude towards Him. We are starting with Psalm 119, and I intend to share with you what God shows to me in the hopes that you will be encouraged to see and savor Him more deeply as well. Practically, this means posts that are a bit shorter (though not this one), and a bit more frequent, than you might be used to. We can perhaps see in the next week or so if they have value to you as a reader or if they would be best served to stay in my journal. Either way, if you find yourself lacking in your relationship with God, be encouraged to go and seek Him in His Word.
Here are a few observations about Psalm 119:1-8:
- To be blessed by God, to know Him more fully and to experience His joy more deeply, comes through seeking Him with a fervency that will lead to obedience. Why? His ways are perfect and righteous (vss. 1-4). We may know this intellectually, but to know deeply the law of the Lord, and to know Him who fulfilled the law, compels the heart to seek and to obey.
- The Psalmist prays for steadfastness because he does not have it (vs. 5). You and I are likely no different—desiring obedience, but falling short. We are too often pebbles that move with the wind. But the reason he prays this kind of prayer is because obedience is a gift from God to be sought. This grace to remain steadfast does not come from within ourselves, but from God, and is then meant to be worked out in steadfastness. Our pebble-like obedience grows with the weight of grace until it becomes an unwavering boulder.
- The steadfastness of obedience leads to honor (v. 6), praise (v. 7), perseverance (v. 8), and a continued dependence on God (v. 8). This sounds theologically fine enough, but how is this practical? Perhaps in this truth we find a picture of the gospel-centered life. The heart, given by God towards obedience, seeking after Him, sustained by Him in perseverance, depends more and more on His grace. Knowing Him more deeply in this process will lead to our praise of Him and His honoring of us—not for ourselves, but that we would not be put to shame in Him, so that His name, and His law, and the Christ who fulfilled that law, might be known as glorious.
Question: What do you think of when you consider being blessed by God?